“Android, at this point, is over 53 percent of all global device shipments this year,” Omar Siddiqui informed his audience during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “1.3 billion devices to be shipped this year. As you are developing your games, if you want to reach that mass audience, you obviously have to be thinking about both iOS and Android.”
Omar Siddiqui is the co-founder and CEO at Kiwi, a cross-platform game developer that has produced top games on Android and more recently on iOS. He and his co-founder Shvet Jain started the company in 2011 after building free-to-play games for almost a decade at Trippert Labs, Playdom, and Disney.
Tying It All Together
In Kiwi, Siddiqui has found an opportunity to tie together all his experiences, especially those gained from building top social games, such as Gardens of Time for Disney Playdom. They innovated on design and also achieved commercial success. He says, “That balanced approach continues to be our template for the types of products we want to continue to build going forward.”
Siddiqui gains the greatest satisfaction in his career through achieving goals as a team. These moments are his opportunity to take stock and appreciate what they have been able to do together, especially since it takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and luck to make a game tangible, starting with nothing but an idea.
For him, these meaningful moments range from successful products, such as Gardens of Time for Playdom or Shipwrecked and Westbound for Kiwi, to products that didn’t succeed commercially, but they were still proud to have pulled off as a team.
Siddiqui emphasizes the advantages that he personally finds with the mobile gaming platform, particularly the accessibility and availability that make it convenient as his life has become busier. He has also noticed that he is increasingly using tablet gaming as a multi-tasking activity; this correlates with the data Kiwi is starting to see about how people are gaming.
These days, he plays Hearthstone quite actively. Although he is a casual player, he still enjoys competitive play. He particularly enjoys a quick, player-to-player experience with permutations and nuances he can figure out at his own pace.
Typically, he does not become involved in paying for F2P, preferring to grind his way through. But he did break down and pay for construction acceleration in Clash of Clans, and considers that to be quite a testimonial for the game.
His console gaming is considerably more limited than what he does on mobile; he is still running an old Xbox 360 and says he is definitely due for an upgrade.
Improving the Communities
Siddiqui emphasizes, “As a company, we are ensuring that we build great linked player experiences across iOS and Android devices, whether phones or tablets. Providing excellent cross-platform social gameplay and community building remains an area where we feel we can excel on in the coming years, as smart mobile devices are truly ubiquitous.”
They are following the extension of smart operating systems from mobile devices to televisions with interest. With their titles built on Android and iOS, as smart televisions and smart top-set boxes become common, new markets open up for them. Siddiqui also believes, “With the same casualization of gaming that becomes increasingly possible as households play familiar mobile casual games on their televisions, new forms of approachable gaming will emerge that could be very exciting.” Kiwi is planning for this future through experimenting with their existing games to these new platforms, as well as prototyping new games that are relevant for smart television play.
Siddiqui believes the emergence of international markets will make a tremendous impact on the entire game industry. He points out that these markets are both huge and unique. For example, new mobile gamers in China have very different preferences toward in-app purchases and game genres than players in other markets around the globe. He insists, “To capture these enormous opportunities, developers everywhere will have to rethink how they build and distribute games to better appeal to a global audience.”
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.