With the Pocket Gamer Awards 2012 entering the final stretch (the winners will be announced next week during a ceremony held in San Francisco to coincide with GDC), it seems appropriate to shine the spotlight onto this year's sponsors.
We start with iDreamSky, a young Chinese company and relative newcomer to the mobile scene, but one that is going places fast. Jeff Lyndon, executive director and iDreamSky co-founder, was kind enough to answer our exploratory questions in full.
Pocket Gamer: For the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with iDreamSky, could you give them a quick overview of who you are and what you do?
Jeff Lyndon: iDreamsky is one of the fastest growing smartphone companies in China. We started in 2009 with five employees, focusing on outsource development. Now we are a team of 90, focusing on mobile game publishing for Greater China.
We have the strongest mobile game titles line-up in China, including: the Angry Birds series, Fruit Ninja series, Jetpack Joyride, Great Little War Game, Bouncy Mouse, Fragger, Gravity Guy, and many more.
We also have established one of the biggest distribution platform in China with five telcos, 63 web / third-party distribution platforms and 86 smart device manufacturers. To help our partners to conquer China we provide them with the Skynet SDK [software development kit], an all-in-one solution that solves: DRM, tracking, in-app purchase with seven local billing methods, Chinese SNS with exclusive API usages, leaderboards, achievements and centralize local advertisement platform.
Our goal is to be a publishing brand that gamers respect and know that when a game is associated with our brand it is a good game. Developers, meanwhile, can trust us when handing over their precious work.
To go back to SkyNet, your social gaming and distribution platform, it obviously represented a major step for you. Can you explain how did that concept evolve, how it works and how are things progressing?
In 2010 we started building our own games for the Chinese market. We quickly realised there were no SDKs that provided Chinese SNS [social network services] integration and local leaderboards, so we start building our own.
After building it we actually locked it up and and almost forgot about it – until we decided to get into the publishing business and developers were asking us if there was something similar to Openfeint in China. We then brought it out and revisited it.
Since then we've added more features that focus on helping developers draw more revenue and help us with management. These include integrated multiple ad platforms, DRM, tracking and in-app purchases.
Since July 2011, the launch of the first Skynet enabled game in China, we now have 20 million Chinese users registered and daily active uUnique User over 2.2 millions. One in every seven Android phones in China has a Skynet enabled game installed. Currently there are over 40 games integrated with Skynet and we plan to have another 60 to 70 this year.
Clearly, from a western developer's perspective you offer a distribution solution for their titles in China. What do you look for in western titles with regards to the Chinese public?
With most publishers there is mostly a rigid and streamlined process, which relies on trends, stats, numbers, history, measurable elements, and game reviews.
We tend to go back to basics. We look for titles we love, developers who we believe we can work with and they believe we are the right people. You can have a stellar product but if the relationship isn't there and isn't put in the right hands, it will flop no matter what.
As such our selection procedure is more like dating, or what I call 'human'. I like to meet with every developer we work with to get an idea of who they are and let them know who I am. To understand from them their love and passion for their games, and express to them my view of publishing and the Chinese market. If the vibe is right and we share the same goal, we go ahead.
It's less scientific but it has worked well for us so far.
Finally, why get involved with the Pocket Gamer Awards?
My business partner and I have been loyal followers of Pocket Gamer since 2008 and we have always dreamt of receiving a Pocket Gamer award – however, we've never manage to get one. So this year we decided that if we can't get one, we shall sponsor them so at least we get to touch the award somehow.Our thanks to Jeff for his time.