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Five-Minute Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers
—by Jade Dragon

Have you ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love? What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.

gameloft logo

Earlier this year, we thought Gameloft had changed its game development strategy to focus on mobile gaming. Well, it turns out they were just hiding somewhere sharpening their pencils. With the recent release of Rayman Ultimate and Siberian Strike X for the Pocket PC, Gameloft sent a message that the company will strengthen its foothold in the PDA gaming market, all the while producing a huge catalog of game titles for mobile phones. The latest Rayman Ultimate also hints that a number of console games will make their way to the PDA platform. We chatted with the General Manager of Gameloft’s North American office, Mathieu Rolland about what’s happening with Gameloft.

Jade Dragon: Could you describe the relationship between Gameloft and Ubi Soft? How closely do you work together?

Mathieu: Michel Guillemot, CEO of Gameloft is one of the founders of Ubi Soft. Gameloft was originally funded by Ubi Soft shareholders and has since been introduced on the stock market in Europe. Gameloft is a completely separate company from Ubi Soft but we share a very close relationship with them. Most importantly, Gameloft has access to all of Ubi Soft's licenses, including the Tom Clancy line of products, Rayman, Prince of Persia and much more.

Mathieu Rolland

Jade Dragon: Ubi Soft's Rayman franchise has released Rayman titles for various gaming platforms. When you ported Rayman and Rayman Ultimate to Pocket PC, how did you decide which Rayman titles to port?

Mathieu: First was a concern of playability. At the time Rayman started being developed for PDAs, the Game Boy Color version seemed like an obvious choice. It was also the only version that could be ported both on Pocket PC and Palm. Then Rayman Advanced came out on Game Boy Advance. Our teams of programmers and designers are extremely competent with an extensive experience in the video game industry. They have been able to port that game to the PocketPC and make Rayman Ultimate. You have to remember that this game was originally developed for the Playstation and it is no small task to port it to a device like the PocketPC. I think you will agree that Rayman Ultimate raises the bar at every level for gaming on the Pocket PC.

Jade Dragon: Gameloft changed its focus from developing and selling games for PDAs to developing games for mobile phones earlier this year. Now, with the new Rayman title and Siberian Strike X, it seems that you don't want to abandon the PDA market all together. What is the Gameloft's game development strategy?

Mathieu: It has never been in the plans to abandon the PDA market all together. It is true that we realized early in 2002 that the cell phone gaming market was bound to grow much faster than the PDA gaming market. We shifted our focus to support the cell phone market more strongly. The fact that carriers were coming up with real and valuable business models, in terms of revenue, distribution and so on, lead us to believe that it was the right choice. But as our mission statement was to provide gaming for mobile devices in general, we kept on making games for PDAs as well. We are very proud of Rayman Ultimate and Siberian Strike X, they have both received great reviews.

Jade Dragon: From the development point of view, how different is to develop games for phones vs. PDAs?

Mathieu: We are dealing today with a few standards on both sides. For phones, it's a choice between Java (J2ME) and BREW. For the PDA, between Palm OS and Pocket PC. On the PDA side, we have a bigger screen, more processing power and buttons that you can (usually) press simultaneously. This allows for better games all together. Coding the game for one OS (Palm or Pocket PC) will allow it to work on all the corresponding devices.

On the phone side, it is a little more complicated. There are a lot of different form factors. The phone can be black & white or color, different color depth, different screen sizes, different processors and different menu keys. Even if they all run Java, there will be some porting to do to optimize the gameplay on each type of handset. We usually chose the handsets that are the most popular and put them on top of our list. If we have enough time and resources, we will port the games to the less popular models.

Jade Dragon: Can we expect more Ubi Soft titles for PDA/Phone by Gameloft? Can we expect more PDA (Palm and Pocket PC) games from Gameloft?

Mathieu: Of course! We are very excited to see mobile gaming pick up in all parts of the world. On the PDA side, you will continue to see great games from Gameloft, some carrying strong licenses. Palm is coming out with a new OS (OS5) and better processors which will allow more compelling games. One the phone side, we are very excited to see the manufacturers and carriers put out beautiful color phones with better processing power. The future of mobile gaming looks bright and it looks very cool!




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