In part 1 of Namco spotlight, we talked with Jason Ford about the type of things you kinda have to talk with Jason Ford about when you get the chance: carriers and innovation. I mean, we also had a conversation about the merits of a nice sipping sherry versus a firm scotch, but that’s not fit for print, right?
For part 2, Ford teams up with his partner in crime Scott Rubin, Namco’s VP of Marketing, to cover a broad spectrum of industry issues and where Namco fits in the big puzzle that is mobile gaming.
For all the problems of the mobile games industry discussed in part 1 of this piece (and on QuicklyBored each day, for that matter), it’s interesting to note that a common statement being bandied about MGC in July was that 2008 would be a year of big things and great change. We were eager to question Namco’s two head honchos on whether they thought there is a set date for the mobile Golden Age, or if at the next MCG everyone will be talking about 2009 instead.
Jason Ford: Well, history repeats itself. We were saying that 2005 was going to be a good year in 2003 and it wasn’t a bad year. But mobile gaming has this big brother in traditional gaming that took maybe 15 years to really materialize; it wasn’t until the mid-90’s that it became what it is today. We’re trying to do the same thing in five yearsï¿½ People need to realize that time is part of what’s holding us back.
However, that doesn’t mean that Namco and other industry players can’t be a part of hastening the process. Scott Rubin pointed to the fact that the industry needs to work together and build a better infrastructure to encourage gaming. The first step? Educate consumers.
Scott Rubin: Part of this is just watching what happened in Japan and how involved the carriers got into supporting a mobile game culture. We can’t do it by ourselves; we have to work very closely with the carriers to create a mobile culture so consumers know that there are games available to download and how they can get them on their phone. If we could get the 95% or whatever number of people who have never downloaded a game to know this, our market could grow a lot faster.
Ah, Japan. A necessary topic of discussion for mobile gaming, especially when Namco - one of the few publishers with a major presence in Europe, North America and Japan - is involved. Traditionally, Japan is light years ahead of North America in terms of infrastructure and handset hardware. QuicklyBored wanted to know the reason for such a historical lag between Europe and Japan and what filters to North America. Once again, Namco’s answer seemed to be time and education.
Scott: I remember when we were 3 years behind Japan in terms of technology and now we’re a year and a half behind - that’s progress. My understanding is that Japan went through the same cycle that we are going through a few years ago: an incredible growth period, followed by a leveling off, and then another growth period spurred by educating the consumers. We’re at the point now where we’ve achieved our first leveling off, and in order to have that next spurt we need education.