Launching over 110 apps as ngmoco and then DeNA, this company has seen it all. Originally hyped as the "Nintendo of the iPhone" and grabbing the lion's share of the iFund, ngmoco made some groundbreaking games. The games released by ngmoco did not lack quality, but they did lack sales. So in 2010, ngmoco made a big push into free to play. While it was rocky at first, the decision really started to pay off in 2012 with the release of Rage of Bahamut.
We talk with Clive Downie, CEO of DeNA West, about the transition from paid to free to play, and some of his thoughts and experiences of the last five years with the App Store.
148Apps: How has the App Store changed the way DeNA/ngmoco:) does business?
Clive Downie, CEO of DeNA West: The App Store hasn't changed the way we do business. ngmoco was conceived to take advantage of the new App Store ecosystem. We were leaders in its early days, creating some of the original premium games such as Rolando and Skee Ball that paved the foundation of gaming on the iPhone.
148Apps: If you have one single success within DeNA/ngmoco:) you'd like to highlight from the past five years on the App Store, what would it be?
Clive Downie: Pivoting the company to freemium to take advantage of Apple offering IAP in free apps. We were there on day one with Eliminate and Touch Pets Dogs. Then we followed up quickly with We Rule and Godfinger and received excellent promotional support from Apple.
148Apps: In the five years since launch, the App Store has gone through considerable changes. The number of users has skyrocketed along with downloads, prices for paid apps has stabilized way lower than many expected, free to play has dominated the top grossing charts. If, knowing what you know about the App Store now, you could go back and influence ngmoco five years ago, what would you say?
Clive Downie: I wouldn't say anything new. We were shrewd to get out of paid, seeing the lowest average price plummet for apps and piracy negate the value we put into creating paid apps. In a market economy where the lowest price is zero that is always going to happen.
I'm proud that we pivoted the company the way we did to focus on the engagement multiples that going free allowed.
148Apps: What have you seen on the App Store, outside of DeNA/ngmoco:) companies, that has surprised you most?
Clive Downie: I'm surprised that it's not smarter at personalizing what I as a consumer might want. Genius looks like it's removed from iOS7, and while there will be some new location capabilities, it seems like there’s an opportunity to enhance the functionality around interests.
148Apps: Any predictions for what the App Store will be like five years from now?
Clive Downie: On a watch...
Personalized to me (Amazon on steroids)
Many thanks to Clive Downie for his time.