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Games aren’t scoring big on Windows 8, but that could change

by David Needle

October 30 2013

Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO of Arkadium and Neil Sorens, Creative Director at Zen Studios see opportunities for Windows games developers. (PHOTO: David Needle)
Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO of Arkadium and Neil Sorens, Creative Director at Zen Studios see opportunities for Windows games developers. (PHOTO: David Needle)

The market for video games just keeps getting bigger. And the mobility and popularity of tablets make them a perfect target for developers. So why hasn’t Microsoft cashed in? 

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Microsoft has a ways to go to win over game developers, according to a panel of game experts speaking at the GamesBeat conference here today.

Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO Arkadium, says Windows has some distinct advantages that haven’t been exploited by developers yet.

“There is no operating system in the world that allows you to have a continuous game experience,” he said, noting that if Microsoft provides the right developer tools a Windows game could be started on a Windows PC, continued on a Windows phone during lunch and continued to be played on a tablet in the evening.

Microsoft didn’t make the first version of Windows 8 particularly attractive to developers including the fact that there were limits on the in-app functionality. Now that Microsoft has addressed the issues with Windows 8.1 he expects things to turn around.

“I think Windows is just around the corner from major success stories,” he said. “Developers want to see a title make a million dollars a month and then ‘Ding!’ success, there will be a snowball effect.”

Still, Rosenblatt says he doesn’t see any big Windows 8 momentum in games coming till next holiday season and on into 2015.

Neil Sorens, Creative Director at Zen Studios, echoed Rosenblatt’s comment that the sooner Microsoft makes it possible to run a game across all three platforms (desktop, phone and tablet) the better.

“They’re getting there, but there is still work to do,” he said.

The other issue is Microsoft Store. While the number of apps is growing, it still pales in comparison to Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“Microsoft has to spend more money on quality software in general and getting more games out there,” said Sorens.”

He also noted that iOS and Android benefit from a bigger ecosystem. While Microsoft offers developer tools, ad networks and analytics, there are a range of such services for Android and iOS from third parties that aren't currently supporting Windows apps.

(Don't miss APP DEVELOPMENT – The right way to build your tablet app, one of the key sessons at the upcoming TabletBiz conference & expo coming to New York on November 13, 2013)

Boom time for games - good and bad

John Riccitiello, the former CEO of Electronic Arts who is now an investor in game companies, said these the video game industry is booming, particularly on the desktop and for mobile.

He said the latest research shows there are about 1.2 billion gamers in the world
with consoles accounting for $25 billion, PCs about $6 billion and smartphones and tablets combined at $13 billion in sales.

“An amazing fact too is that for the first time games are growing in every major geography,” said Riccitiello.

But he decried the onslaught of copycat games and the lack of big brand hits.

“The Sims is 13 years old, Mario is 25 and those brands are delivering hits year in an out. I don’t see great brands being built yet today.” 

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