Published on July 16th, 2012 | by Tom Reed

Mobile Gaming Has A Bright Future Ahead – Interview With NGmoco

Mobile Mojo

Despite making waves back in March with statements like “console gaming is dead”, the name NGMoco still isn’t garnered as a household name. Then again, NGmoco won’t be found in your household, but quietly humming away in your pocket.

In just a few short years the company has become a force to be reckoned with in the mobile gaming arena. And according to some reports, they’ve got something big in the works.

NGmoco has reached meteoric success with Rage of Bahamut but all the while has been quietly working on something in their Sweden based studio: something NGmoco are calling a game-changer.

The Swedish team is headed by Ben Cousins, a manager well experienced in producing cut down FPS titles such as Xbox Live’s extremely successful Battlefield 1943. Using the Mobage platform, several in-house development studios, and a proprietary engine called NGCore optimised for mobile gaming, it seems like NGmoco have all the pieces in place to deliver a premium FPS experience on a mobile device. The big difference between this secret project and a product like Nova 3 from Gameloft is that NGmoco’s game will in most likely be free-to-play.

 

They’re a very happy company. Judging by the emoticon anyway.

I sat down with Sami Mahmood, Marketing Strategist for NGmoco, at a recent event to find out a little more about the company and what exactly they’re working on.

What is NGmocos relationship with Rage of Bahamut?

We publish Rage of Bahamut globally and several other trading card games. It is published using our Mobage platform which gives developers access to a huge and passionate audience and is in turn, promoted by us.

An NGmoco spokesman Ben Cousins earlier this year said….

He said a very bold statement (laughs).

Yes, that mobile gaming would see the end of traditional home gaming and consoles would see an ever dwindling return.

I can’t speak for Ben, but he certainly knows his stuff. My own opinion is that we’re in an amazing era for gaming, maybe the most exciting period in gaming history as far as I remember. The way consumers find and interact with games is changing, radically, and we feel confident we’re at the cutting edge of those shifts.

With next-gen manufacturers making a push for tablets to be used as connecting devices to home consoles; it seems like you are poised to take advantage of a natural expansion in mobile gaming.

Yes, we’re really excited about the developments in hardware and I think that we have a company culture which is poised to make the required pivots, quickly. We’re all about delighting players, and we will look to create great experiences for them on whatever platform they want to play on.

With tablet technology gaining an increasing market share have you started thinking in terms of specific apps for tablets?

We have big plans for the tablet market, for sure. It offers a really unique playing experience, due to its combination of size, portability and amazing graphics.

Do you see digital transactions as the dominant form of acquiring interactive entertainment in the future?

Yes, exactly. When you look at how popular the PSN network and Xbox marketplace has become it breathes a fantastic new life into the development community. That’s why we [ngmoco] see digital transactions taking over and especially the ‘Freemium’ model.

Does this mean NGmoco will be branching out to the console marketplace?

I wouldn’t say we mean that.

Ngmoco appeared in 2008 and in 2011 saw its name billed as a top 10 provider of mobile gaming. How have you seen the market develop and where do you see it going?

Perhaps the biggest change has been freemium gaming and social connectivity. Change is the only constant, and we seek to be adaptive so we’re poised to delight our players. That’s better than trying to predict the future.

There is an increasing number of exciting mobile technologies emerging all the time. Does NGmoco aim to develop games based on new ways of using technology?

Our technology platform, ngcore, is a world class tool for developers to publish simultaneously to both Android and iOS, and we have an international team who are constantly looking to mobile technologies and integrating them, to ensure it’s the most cutting edge tool for developers.

So you have relationships with current manufacturers?

We have a great relationship with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

What western developed IP’s do you have coming out from the NGmoco stable?

Loads! This week we launched Galaxy Assault, which is a game where you build an army and battle alien invaders. We’re releasing a game this month on Google Play called Monster Tracker where you capture and collect monsters. We also have several more titles in the pipeline from our own studios but I can’t talk about them yet as they are still in development.

Rage of Bahamut has an incredible art style that incorporates western talents like English artist Matt Dixon, as well as a Japanese art direction. Is the explosive art style something you are keen to make a trademark of NGmocos games?

Absolutely. Some of the games we are working on at the moment are truly stunning.

Currently NGmoco sport 40 plus titles on mobile devices but only 3 run on IOS, what’s happening there?

We will have all of our games available on both platforms. Recently we’ve been so busy producing games that for various reasons the Android versions have hit the market first, but that’s not a policy.

NGmoco’s founder and CEO Neil Young recently stated there are currently 30 japanese titles being either developed or ported to the west. Could you reveal the names of any developers or games on the way?

Sadly no, it’s all under wraps. (Silence) What I can say is we have some REALLY exciting games coming out this summer, starting with Galaxy Assault which is available on Google Play right now.

 

Our money’s on Golem. Those other two look far too weedy.

It seems like the joint venture you have with DeNA and the Mobage platform means a huge amount of truly culturally authentic Japanese games could be introduced to the west. Could the niche Japanese games really take off?

Indeed. Take Rage of Bahamut which has been phenomenally successful even though prevailing wisdom might have said that Japanese titles have mixed success in traveling west.

Does NGmoco see Japanese developers coming to you, hoping to reach a larger audience? Or are you tasked with convincing eastern studios to climb over the wall?

We are always on the lookout for innovation and yes we have great connections to the Japanese gaming community, of course. Mobage offers a unique platform for developers since we’ve had hits in both US, Europe and Japan. So right now we’re having some really positive conversations with world class developers.

How many internal studios do you have?

We have several internal studios: Sweden, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Chile and New York.

Ben cousins has been the general manager and executive producer on the Battlefieldseries since 2008 and is now the general manager of NGmoco’s Sweden studio. Could we see an FPS style of game coming to social mobile gaming?

There is a massive, massive game coming out of Sweden.

Oh? (excitedly)

But I can’t talk about it. (flatly)

Oh. (sad face)

Ben is a very talented guy and what he’s working on out there is going to be a game changer, but… I can say no more.

Thanks for your time Sami.

Any time.

Sami’s comments left me wondering exactly what could be possible on a mobile device six months from now. With technology allowing us to enjoy longer battery life and enhanced graphics, companies like NGmoco are sure to have something in the pipeline that will take advantage of that. Despite the promise of big changes on the horizon, the true mark of success may be determined by how the “freemium” model pans out in the long run.

Does the idea of being beaten by someone in a game because they have more money in their pocket disturb you? Or are you happy to casually play quality games for free? Let us know in the comments below.

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