The Faces Behind Successful Mobile Games

PHOTO: D.I.C.E. 2013 panel on mobile games.
Albert Sabaté/ABC/Univision

Sure, you might spend hours playing "Words with Friends" with your mom and your roommates…but do you know who are the people who created these addictive mobile games?

We spoke to 4 high-profile game developers who attended the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas last week and asked them the following: what makes their games special, how they made it in the gaming industry and what excites them about the future of gaming. Check out what they said.

PHOTO: Phil Larsen
Albert Sabaté/ABC/Univision

Phil Larsen

Chief Marketing Officer, Halfbrick Studios

What makes your game special? The beauty of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride is incredibly simple but also extremely visceral and satisfying. And the feedback you get is extremely addictive and compulsive. Fruit Ninja has had more than 400 million downloads (2 trillion fruit have been chopped!)

What are you excited about? About fans being able to explore new genres and new ways to play, that means we can be more creative with what we do.

PHOTO: Paul Bettner
Albert Sabaté/ABC/Univision
Words With Friends and the "With Friends" Franchise

Paul Bettner

Chief Executive Officer, Verse, Inc.

What makes your game special? We launched six games, our first was Chess With Friends. The important part is the social -- the game is the excuse to socialize. The second thing was to replicate what you're doing on the phone anyway, which are 30-second experiences: email, text messaging, web browsing and Facebook.

What are you excited about? Verse, our new studio. OUYA is what drew me out of hibernation (I was going to take a year off.) A disruption is about to happen in gaming exactly like what happened on the iPhone, but this time it's going to happen to TV console gaming.

PHOTO: David Edery
Albert Sabaté/ABC/Univision

David Edery

Chief Executive Officer, Spry Fox

What makes your game special? Triple Town has reinvented the puzzle/match 3 genre. My company and by extension, me, were known for trying wacky things.

How did you get here? I wanted to get into game industry out of college. I couldn't figure out how to break in. I was an English Major and nobody wanted to hire me. So I taught myself programming and did things unrelated to games and then eventually, went to business school at MIT to get my MBA and took that opportunity to get [into the industry.]

What are you excited about? This is an exciting time for us because we released almost nothing last year and this first quarter we're releasing three games -- maybe four. We're doing beta-releases for two and the other will be out in March.

PHOTO: Jenova Chen
Albert Sabaté/ABC/Univision

Jenova Chen

Game Director, thatgamecompany

What makes your game special? People talk about how to innovate technology or art style or mechanics to create a new type of game. But we look at game innovation based on how a game makes you feel.

For Journey, I wanted to change the emotional color from something about empowerment to something about connection. I believe it's possible to define an emotion that's deeper, stronger and deeply social.

What are you excited about? I'm working on something… but it's too early to discuss.

I grew up in relatively poor family. I'm a Chinese citizen. I had my dream [fulfilled] because of education in the States and I can and I'm living the dream -- the American Dream. It makes me feel grateful and want to pay back to society. All these people who helped me, who taught me, who supported me to make this possible. I need to do something that's valuable and that's going to help other people. So, the more I work on these games, the more rewarded I get. It's an interesting feedback loop. What is the best thing you can do? That's what you should be doing. How many people can you help, how many people's lives can you make better?

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