Segerstrale: Focus on mobile or console, not both

Segerstrale: Focus on mobile or console, not both
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

May 30th 2013 at 3:30PM

Kristian Segerstrale on why developers should concentrate their efforts on a single platform

Next-gen consoles will be the Pied Pipers leading some of the most promising companies today away from long-term success, says Kristian Segerstrale.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Playfish founder, now on the board at Supercell, said developers could still be successful on consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One, but advised them not to try and tackle other platforms such as mobile at the same time.

He explained that there is no ‘and’ when it comes to choosing console or mobile and tablet, and that the big companies who don’t bet on a single platform will face enormous challenges keeping up with the “pureplays” on mobile.

“Any strategy that involves many ands - this and that and that - fundamentally risks execution across the board. My thesis is that these next-generation consoles will turn out to be the Pied Pipers that lead some of the most promising companies today away from long-term success," said Segerstrale.

"I'm not saying they cannot be successful as platforms, but as a company it is hard to do two different things. The biggest, most interesting thing to observe about the biggest companies right now is to see how bold they will be in terms of focusing their efforts on what they believe will be the future driver of the industry."

Clash of Clans and Hay Day developer Supercell is a prime example of how a core focus on mobile and being ‘tablet-first’ can bring huge rewards for developers. The company is thought to be making $2.4 million a day from just two games, and is said to be valued at around $800 million.

Segerstrale said the studio had managed to challenge the traditional models of the development process, by ditching the mass-marketing campaigns to launch a game, and releasing games first in a test market, ditching ideas that don't work.

"The games industry has traditionally created a hierarchy on top of games teams to ensure that marketing and the studio are both aligned to create this marketing event when you launch, and that lives on in the muscle memory even of many mobile and social games companies," he said.

"The genius of Supercell is that they're calling out that the emperor has no clothes. That's not the right way to create games moving forward. You have to get hold of the best talent, then release a game in a test market and let the audience decide. If it works, wonderful. Launch it. If it doesn't work, go back and celebrate the learnings you made, not the failure."