MMO games to be massive on iOS, Jolt CEO says

22 Mar 2011

While the iPad 1 and iPad 2 and the various iPhone devices have proven themselves as fantastic gaming devices, the unexplored potential of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games could yield massive rewards, the founder of Jolt and Demonware Dylan Collins believes.

Collins, who sold Demonware to Activision in 2006 for US$15m and later set up Jolt Online, which was acquired by global retail giant GameStop for an undisclosed sum, says the first company that cracks the casual MMO space is going to be huge. Jolt recently launched the first Playboy game on Facebook for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire.

“As crazy as it sounds, there’s an opportunity (with the right audience) to create what what used to be called a ‘platform-seller’. Not that Apple needs it obviously, but I think the market opportunity really is that big,” said Collins, who returned from the recent Games Development Conference (GDC).

In terms of demographics, Collins pointed to Nielsen’s 2010 study, which showed that 65pc of iPad owners are male and 63pc are under the age of 35. Entertainment is the main driver for this demographic.

Why MMO will be massive on iOS devices

“From my own observations (and confirmed anecdotally), usage is bifurcating. The younger people (under 35s) are using it as a gaming device whereas the older people (over 35s) are using it much more as a tool, with entertainment being a secondary aspect.

In his blog, Collins pointed to a graph (see below) showing his average gaming time over the last decade versus his monthly spend on games.

He said that for a lot of people, available time is decreasing which means many don’t have the time to play big-budget games like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Homefront.

Yet they still want games and are willing to pay for them. iPhone and iPad games cater perfectly for people with time constraints and yet cost nothing, or next to nothing.

In addition, Apple’s iOS ecosystem provides developers with a ready-made distribution platform and billing options which are usually the reasons that prevent game developers from attacking the marketplace.

Collins predicts there will be several MMO games entering the iPad/iPhone ecosystem in the coming months.

Already Gameloft has revealed plans to bring Chaos & Order Online, a MMO competitor to World of Warcraft, to the iOS ecosystem, Zarksoft are developing a strategy MMO called Empire of the Eclipse for the iPad and Spacetime Studios have created what is believed to be the world’s largest MMO in Pocket Legends.

“At GDC the other week, I consistently asked one question in every meeting, regardless of audience: ‘Who is working on an iPad MMO?’ The responses varied from blank looks of incomprehension to knowing smiles. However, regardless of the facial reactions, I was surprised by the lack of concrete information floating around.

“I think the first company which cracks the casual MMO space on the iPad is going to be huge,” Collins predicted.

Time and money for gaming online


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years