Interview: Ngmocoâ??s Neil Young

Interview: Ngmocoâ??s Neil Young
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

December 7th 2010 at 10:00AM

CEO Neil Young discusses what Plus+ has done for ngmoco

Keeping customers returning to mobile services is a tough problem facing companies in a quick-change culture.

ngmoco has been one of the main entertainment companies to capitalise on smartphone development, and its games have been download over 20 million times. ngmoco launched their own social gaming platform, Plus+, in June 2009. Similar to OpenFeint, this service has allowed ngmoco to step up their third-party publishing as well as providing a vital connection with users.

Ahead of his keynote at Evolve in London tomorrow, CEO and founder Neil Young of ngmoco shares his thoughts on the mobile market and explains why Plus+ has been “essential” to the company’s business plan.

What can attendees expect from your session at Evolve in London?
I’ll be sharing our experience of building ngmoco, some of the things that we’ve learned that can be applied generally for others who have companies in this space and talk about the future of mobile gaming landscape.

When you started ngmoco, why did decide to enter the mobile gaming market?
We felt that the iPhone was the first of a set of devices that could revolutionize mobile and, more importantly for us, energize a stagnant mobile gaming industry. Our sense was that devices like the iPhone would be in the pockets of billions of people and given their capability, this seemed like an incredible opportunity to build a new type of mobile company.

What concerns you most about the mobile gaming market?
In general, I don’t have very many concerns about the mobile gaming market - I think it’s a rich, vibrant market that’s growing at an incredible pace. Most of the concerns that I have centre around how best we can ensure that our company takes full advantage of the opportunity in front of us.

ngmoco has brought many popular titles to the iPhone, including Rolando, We Rule and GodFinger. However, as developers like Rovio gain the contacts and expertise to self-publish, do you think your role as a content provider is threatened?
Not at all - if we want to stay as a creator and publisher of titles, I’m sure we’ll be able to compete. The transition that we’re going through though is how to move from an application developer and publisher with an affiliate network (Plus+) to a platform company with world class first-party development and a broad set of relationships with third-party developers that allows them to successfully and effectively access our audience.

Extending the user relationship with brands is of key importance now. ngmoco has its own social media network in the form of Plus+. What has the service done to help you retain users and expand your business?
Plus+ and its services has been essential in helping us and our partners reach and engage our customers. Retention is a function of engagement. And engagement, in our experience, has been radically enhanced through the Plus+ services, in particular when those have been placed at the centre of the game experience.

I think we’ve learned a lot about how games that put social at the centre of the experience can positively change the play patterns of users which can then in turn be monetized. Once you establish a monetization model around engagement (usage) you decouple your dependency on chart position as the sole mechanism for monetization and it's really been that along with our ability to introduce that engaged audience to new products that has fuelled the company’s growth.

Evolve in London takes place tomorrow.