Behind Oasys Mobile

When QuicklyBored sat down with some of the people behind Oasys Mobile this year at GDC, what emerged from that meeting was not just a profile of a company looking to succeed in the sphere of mobile games, but also a story about a company that has created a new paradigm for itself. During the interview, Creative Director Rick Raymer and Studio Director Mac Senour drew a detailed map of where Oasys has been, where they are, and where they’re going. It’s an interesting age for mobile gaming, in that the industry is coming into its own while, at the same time, is still overshadowed by the monstrous success of console and even pc gaming, and Oasys has given much thought to what it takes for a mobile game to shine. In the end, it seems that their recipe for success is not about money, is not about formula, but about getting the best out of their most valuable resources: People.

Oasys Mobile was originally a direct-to-consumer entity, whose portal offered everything from ringtones to wallpaper. As it is with many of the web portal solutions, however, the money just wasn’t there: “We were having trouble monetizing it,” Raymer explained, “and in the mean time we were creating mobile content and focusing on mobile games and we were able to make money with that.” The push to transition Oasys from direct-to-consumer mobile content to full-on mobile games creation came from Bernie Stolar, Lead Director of the Oasys Board of Directors, who brought in Doug Dyer as CEO last December. Dyer brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge in the mobile games space, not the least of which being his involvement with THQ Wireless, which he is credited for starting and building into a successful entity. Moving away from the portal mindset and into mobile games creation was a logical one, as years of experience existed in the company. “Part of that decision was monetary, part of that also was we looked at the personnel we had. Take all the exprience that Rick has, that I have, that our development crew has we have about ninety, nintety-five years total game creation experience. It just makes sense,” Senour explained. “Why would you take this many years of exprience and throw it away to do a simple application? We’re making games because these guys are very experienced. They know what they’re doing. Let’s give them the ball and let them run with it and let’s see what they want to do as far as the company’s concerned.”

Now, Oasys focuses on its publisher program, which is now the backbone of their game-development strategy. Adopting a staunch grass-roots approach that looks to small, passionate developers for The Next Great Game rather than trying to ride on the coat tails of established powerhouses, Oasys wants the foundation of their work to always be rooted in passion. To securely establish a process of empowerment for the talent to make great games and to make sure that there’s always heart, Oasys eschews top-down project management which confines and demands. Instead, they work hard to inculcate a system of dialogue, mutual support and ideas exchange. Senour is adamant about keeping the corporate formulas and art-by-committee flavor out of the process. “The phrase I’ve been using is: If you’re successful, then we’re successful. We’re going to use what resources we have to make sure the companies or individuals we’re working with are successful. If they’re really successful coming out with a great game then the money will be there. Then once that’s there then we can start building on that franchise and say ‘Alright, you’ve got the skill level. We want this high of a skill level, and we’re gonna help you get there’.”

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