Interviews

Talking with ngmoco's Neil Young (part 2): 'We want to feel like first-party on iPhone'

Connectivity, originality, and social interaction to define the company's future iPhone games

Talking with ngmoco's Neil Young (part 2): 'We want to feel like first-party on iPhone'
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Don't miss part one of our ngmoco interview with Neil Young.

Painting progressive games onto the canvas that is iPhone marks only one part of Neil Young's ambitious strategy for carving a role out for ngmoco. Shaping that very canvas is the other part. The CEO's forward-looking efforts to support a burgeoning iPhone gaming community and bring a score of social features highlights the conclusion of our interview.

Beyond MazeFinger, Topple, and the forthcoming Rolando, Young and his group at ngmoco have "over a dozen games in various stages of development." Young admits that he's banking on a new platform, intending to succeed in being among the first to shape its identity. iPhone has few notable names, whether it be developers or game titles, and ngmoco wants to be among those few. Getting there means churning out compelling games that feel native to the device – a point hammered hard by the visionary executive.

Young's goals go further, though. "We want to feel like first-party for the device," he trumpets. To become synonymous with iPhone means more than just creating the best games; it requires philosophically owning the platform and setting its agenda. In other words, ngmoco must be a leader in pushing for new features, pinpointing the platform's future, and convincing others to join their cause. While Apple has begun to awaken from its slumber to realize the potential of gaming on its device, it lags behind in encouraging developers to design world-class titles. Even more, the company has yet to jump wholeheartedly into development and is holding back from constructing features to support a growing community of gamers.

Young, along with so many others in the industry, understands this absence of leadership and is stepping up to the plate. He assures that ngmoco will address this void by introducing a wide range of features to support social interaction and community on iPhone. While he only briefly touched upon the concept, Young's enthusiasm is unbridled. "We want to create a platform to bring players together – something of a love-child between Facebook and Xbox Live."

ngmoco insists on "delivering games of the highest quality," which to Young means incorporating a number of features that have been standardised on other platforms. Whether it's achievements or trophies to messaging and friends lists to leaderboards and game referrals – these are all components of the new gaming experience that have yet to trickle down onto iPhone. Gamers expect these in their games, but more surprisingly non-gamers increasingly want them too. The rise of social networking applications drive a demand for social connectivity that bleeds into games.

To Young, drafting a community around iPhone also makes sense from a marketing perspective. "The applications will propagate themselves when you have users thirsty for quality experiences and willing to refer those games to friends," he surmises. Simply put, fostering social interaction on iPhone empowers gamers to share their experiences with others and bolster marketing efforts via word of mouth. In order to get this rolling, though, the aforementioned features must be in place and that's something ngmoco is working on.

Don't hold your breath, though. Features such as these require extensive development and patience to match. But the effort is worth it, and Young knows it. Until that day comes, ngmoco will focus on creating unique games. "Everything from traditional games to progressive things – we're doing it all," he proudly states. And we're waiting to imbibe it all.