Develop Mobile keynote discussing the future of mobile kicks off three-day Brighton event

Develop Mobile: Glu – ‘Focus on gameplay, not gimmicks’

The Develop conference and expo has kicked off at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Brighton, with the Mobile conference keynote from Glu Mobile’s head of studios Chris White outlining the future of mobile games development.

Key to his message was that developers should "Focus on gameplay, not gimmicks," by retaining the purity of their game design while "carefully" implementing technology.

"The end user simply wants to have fun," he explained, pointing out that some of the best selling games in the handheld game space, such as Tetris and Brain Training, are low-scale games that focus on their gameplay design rather than short-lived features.

He added: "Always ask yourself: is this feature going to sell more games? Will it improve the user experience? What is the impact on development, porting, QA and deployment time?"

A variety of Glu games, he added, took these points in mind during their development by "carefully using technology added to the end-user experience" but making sure that didn’t impact the low-end version of the game.

Elsewhere in his talk, White’s overview of the mobile games industry pointed out that fragmentation was still a key issue – potentially causing market slowdown as developers are forced to cater not just for new handsets but also old ones as well, which means licence-based games and titles that fail to take advantage of new technology were still prevailing.

"It’s not a lack of ideas at development studios that is preventing this from happening," he said of games embracing new technologies. "The whole market is increasingly fragmented and diverse.

"It’s as if a PC developer had to support every PC ever made."

That said, he predicted that some barriers, such as control functions, may be knocked down in time: "Controls are still a stumbling block, meaning games are limited by clumsy keypads," said White, adding that mobile games may from 2008 begin to include Wii-like motion sensors to drive the user-experience forward, and encourage more of those gameplay-driven ideas he stressed developers should focus on.

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