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Exit Games Interview - Cell Phone Community

Ever wish you could use your cell phone to keep up to date on your favorite MMO, see which of your friends is online, or when your next raid is? Those and more are the possible uses of cell phones for MMORPGs according to Tom Sperry of Exit Games.

Exit Games Interview - Cell Phone Community

Can you tell me a little bit about Exit Games and what you do?

Tom Sperry

Exit Games’s Neutron is the leading platform for multiplayer games and communities. It is used by leading game developers and publishers to create cross platform multiplayer and social games. Neutron allows users to play each other regardless of device – from any type of mobile phone on any carrier, to the PC and game console.

In a nutshell, Neutron allows for true cross platform game play and social interaction!


What practical application does your technology have for today’s MMORPGs in terms of new features and / or functionality?

Tom Sperry

Our platform’s service, called “Neutron”, enables PC-based MMORPG developers to extend in-game features to a mobile device in real-time. The most important thing about an MMORPG is the community (besides the quality of the game of course) and all of the social interaction features that go with it. Players are not able to sit in front of the computer 24/7 – at least, not in a healthy way – and so a natural way to access the game while on the run is via your mobile phone.

In the US, mobile devices and networks are not “ready” today to be gaming systems capable of realtime gameplay of MMORPGs, so we’re not trying to replicate the actual game onto the mobile. Instead, we’re using what it’s best at doing – communication. What Neutron can do for MMORPGs is tie the mobile phone to the game’s back end so that the player can stay plugged in to the virtual world, through various forms of social communication features. These features may include seeing which friends are currently logged into the game, chatting with a friend or your guild mates, checking the raid calendar, searching the auction house to see if the weapon upgrade you’ve wanted is up, etc. The mobile device is the perfect channel to stay in touch with the game while away from the computer, and Neutron allows developers to make this happen without having to allocate too much in dedicated resources.

Why do you feel that MMORPGs specifically are ripe for this kind of interaction?

Tom Sperry

From an Exit Games perspective it is about enhancing the game community and social aspect behind MMORPGs which enhances the player’s experience. MMORPGs are all about community – that’s the core theme that the game is built around. Well, for those who can’t be tied to a PC all day, yet would like to stay involved and abreast of what’s happening in the community, the mobile device serves as the perfect tool. Therefore, the mobile device, the mass market communications device of our time that everybody you know owns, is the perfect complement to staying connected to your favorite MMORPG community. Of course, it also allows for increased brand loyalty and a new line of revenue for the game publisher, increased data traffic for wireless carriers, and an overall entertaining gaming experience for the consumer.

Why do you think that MMOs are only now looking toward mobile phone integration?

Tom Sperry

Competition is getting high. There are tons of MMOs in development. Publishers need to find out ways to make their games sticky as new and exciting MMOs emerge to steal your subscribers. In essence, to enhance the game’s community features and to continue to build the user base with features that enhances their gaming experience and interaction with other players. Also, mobile technology has finally emerged in the last several years that makes this possible, not only on the back end, but also in terms of device capabilities and network bandwidth.

Are the services that you offer something that you entail a monthly fee of some kind?

Tom Sperry

This would depend on how the game developer/ publisher builds out the application and/ or mobile extension to the game, and how they would bill for it. Do they want to charge a monthly subscription fee? Or is it a one time download fee? Perhaps it is provided free with advertisements? Our billing model is flexible, and Neutron can be formed to work with the publisher no matter what method they choose.

What obstacles stand in the way of integrating mobile services with an MMORPG?

Tom Sperry

It is not so much about “obstacles” as much as it is an understanding of the carriers and devices you want to support. From there, the developer/ publisher can create the best user experience based on the network and handset compatibility - will it support lower-end 2D handsets and 2.5 G networks? Or only high-end 3D handsets and high-bandwidth/speed 3G networks, for which there is a smaller user base?

Once this question is answered, then the developer/ publisher can do what they are best at and create winning experiences for the user.

Please tell me anything else about your product, specifically in how it relates to MMORPGs, that I haven’t asked about.

Tom Sperry

Exit Games today already supports some leading MMO’s that are due to ship in the next few months – Freaky Creatures by Abandon Entertainment and World Golf Tour. These are not MMORPGs, but serve as examples of how online game developers are using Neutron to traverse connectivity between a variety of platforms to offer social community features to improve the user experience. The movement has begun, and we’ll be seeing the world’s top MMORPGs extending such social features to the mobile device.