When Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins founded Digital Chocolate in 2003, mobile gaming was a young, wavering platform – but today, the company is one of the biggest in the mobile game biz. What went right?
In 2003, Trip Hawkins was in a very interesting position. While the first company he’d founded, Electronic Arts, had gone on to become one of the most influential publishers in the entire industry, his second – 3DO – had collapsed, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (despite pioneering the modern MMO with Meridian 59). Though Hawkins was determined to dominate the mobile space as EA had dominated the living room, the waters of mobile gaming were murky in 2003, and it was a risky prospect – to say the least – as he relates to Jordan Deam in Issue 219 of The Escapist.
“There is an enormous difference between a hardcore game and what we would call an omni game,” Hawkins says. “The omni gamer seeks social contact and wants a game to be simple and convenient with short play sessions. The hardcore gamer wants advanced, immersive performance that is a challenging form of escapism.” It was a lesson that contradicted decades of accumulated knowledge of AAA game development, but one that Hawkins heartily embraced.
“The irony is that the first rule of omni gaming is that less is more – the player is intimidated by immersive 3-D games and prefers 2-D cartoons like you see on Facebook and on the iPhone,” says Hawkins. “Traditional game developers are so accustomed to improving performance that many of them can’t stop thinking that way.”
Despite initial trepidation towards the iPhone, the platform has paid off in a big way for Digital Chocolate, and the company now boasts that 2% of all applications on the App Store are under its name – quite the feat. To read more about how the mobile gaming space was won (for now), read “Cooking Up Digital Chocolate” by Jordan Deam in Issue 219 of The Escapist.