Game Theory: Q&A with Ryan Morel of PressOK Entertainment

Jul 22, 2010
Games

Location: Seattle, WA Notable apps: Finger Physics (99 cents), Spinzizzle (99 cents) & the brand new Finger Physics: Thumb Wars ($1.99) Platforms: iPhone, Brew & J2ME Specialty genres: Puzzle, Card Company size: 7 employees Short description of company: PressOK Entertainment started in 2008 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.  We are a small yet mighty team of […]

Location: Seattle, WA

Notable apps: Finger Physics (99 cents), Spinzizzle (99 cents) & the brand new Finger Physics: Thumb Wars ($1.99)

Platforms: iPhone, Brew & J2ME

Specialty genres: Puzzle, Card

Company size: 7 employees

Short description of company: PressOK Entertainment started in 2008 and is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.  We are a small yet mighty team of passionate mobile gamers. Our mission is to create mobile games that people love so much, they want to share them with friends.  Our iPhone titles include Finger Physics, Spinzizzle, Gin Rummy Multipack, Fantasy Date, Go Fish and Dungeon Run.

How did you and your firm get into the iPhone game development business?

PressOK Entertainment was created as the publishing arm of Mobliss Incorporated, a company that started with SMS text campaigns and Brew and J2ME applications in 2001.  When the App Store launched in 2008, there was an opportunity to shift from the feature phone market into the smartphone market.  Gin Rummy was our first iPhone title and it is still on the App Store today – several revisions later and sitting comfortably within the top 10 titles in the Card genre.  Since Gin Rummy, we’ve launched several other games on the App Store – some have done really well and others have not, but that’s part of the business.  To date, Finger Physics is by far our most successful title and has been downloaded more than 3.3 million times.

In your opinion, how has the iPhone and Apple’s iTunes App Store changed the gaming industry?

The iPhone and the App Store have catapulted the mobile gaming industry more so than any other one company or device – that cannot be denied.  That being said, it will be fun to watch what Google does in the next 12-18 months, especially in terms of its Android marketplace.  I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in the space and since Apple has recently announced their more stringent application and advertising regulations I think that more developers and third-parties will flock to Android, or at least look twice at it when they may not have otherwise.  I’m pretty sure this was not Apple’s intention but in an inherently evolving and collaborative industry, I think their announcements of late conflict with what the industry and its developers stand for.

Apple’s App Store can be a developer’s best friend and worst enemy.  It’s setup in way that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer – relatively speaking of course.  So once a title has been discovered and downloaded x thousand times, it’s more likely to climb the charts, stay top of mind, and be very easy for consumers to find. Then again, it can sink just as quickly.

Conversely, if your app is struggling its rank will remain very low and it’s very difficult to get noticed without some amazing reviews and a little luck.  This goes back to the issue of discoverability on the App Store. With more than 200,000 apps, it’s tough to stand out even if you have an amazing product.  But just like any industry, these challenges are what make application development and publishing fun – we’ve had a taste of what it feels like to be on top so that’s what we strive for everyday.

Describe the differences between developing games for the iPhone and the iPad.

We haven’t released anything for iPad, yet.

What factors go into how you ultimately price your games?

Several factors come into play when determining the price of our games including development cost and expected downloads. We’ve learned over the years that price can be a very effective marketing lever and so to price above $.99 means that we can run promotions to try and spur sales and have more flexibility overall.  We always put ourselves in the shoes of our users though and ultimately price the game for what it’s worth to our consumers. Finger Physics for instance was priced at $.99 and we’ve released seven updates with new levels over the last several months.  Compared to other games on the App Store, we’re providing our users with a significant value.  Normally a game with frequent updates and more than 200 levels would be at least $1.99.

Describe what your dream game for the iPhone would look like.

Our dream game is one that stays in the #1 spot forever!  All joking aside, our dream game is one that achieves that elusive viral component and is shared among friends.  From a gaming perspective, it would offer continuous challenge, intrigue, fun, addiction and is easy to pick up and hard to put down.We’ve really enjoyed developing and playing Finger Physics and we have plans to expand the franchise this year. Finger Physics: Thumb Wars, the first extension is launching very soon and we hope our loyal fans enjoy it as much as the original.

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