Developer Workshop: Tarver Games

Developer Workshop is a series of profiles exploring the current state of the mobile marketplace from the point of view of the software developers mapping out its future. Each profile focuses on a developer with a compelling story to tell, and offers their perspective on what the industry's doing right, what it's doing wrong and how to make it better. Check out our previous workshops on Shazam, InfoMedia, Viigo, Meet Now Live, Shortcovers, Pint Sized Mobile, Geodelic and Spark of Blue Software.

This week FierceDeveloper profiles Tarver Games, which recently introduced its flagship iPhone title "Ghosts Attack."

tarver games logo

Mobile and portable game sales are anticipated to reach $11.7 billion worldwide in 2014 according to a recent forecast issued by research firm DFC Intelligence--the firm expects Apple's iPhone and iPod touch to lead the

charge, anticipating the devices will together account for about 24 percent of total portable game sales five years from now. The App Store is already teeming with games, but what sets apart startup Tarver Games is its pedigree--President Chris Cross is a 16-year videogame industry veteran who previously served as game design director for Electronic Arts' landmark "Medal of Honor." First introduced in 1999, the World War II-themed franchise is the best-selling first-person shooter series of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records, selling more than 50 million units worldwide over the last decade.

Earlier this month, Tarver Games introduced its flagship iPhone title "Ghosts Attack," which updates the first-person shooter genre via the integration of Google Maps technology. Available for $4.99, "Ghosts Attack" will eventually expand its alternate reality gaming environment with the release of additional episodes, each priced at 99 cents. FierceDeveloper spoke with Cross and Tarver CEO Quinn Banks about the mobile gaming experience, management philosophies and the value of original intellectual property.

Chris Cross tarver gamesChris Cross on the differences between console gaming and mobile gaming: The biggest thing to take into account is the user interface--specifically, how the player will experience the game, and where. With consoles, 99 percent of all users are playing on the couch, and they've made a certain investment in each game--when a game costs $50, you're going to spend some time with it. But gaming on the iPhone is usually a transient experience. The amount of time for each player is a lot shorter--you have to grab them right away, or they'll go off and do something else.

Quinn Banks on the influence of Japanese management philosophy: I lived and worked in Japan for about five years, and that experience shaped how this company is structured. Rather than teams competing against one another, our entire team works together to improve the company as a whole. There's always improvement going on. Typically, American companies look three or four or five years down the line--we have the philosophy that we're building a house we want to live in for the next 20 years, so we're making sure we install a sound foundation.

Cross on nurturing original IP: The philosophy behind building new IP is simple--the goal is to get a complete stranger to say "Wow, what a neat world. I want to play there." You have to make it relevant to them. All the concepts have been done--it's not about new concepts anymore, but about how we can bring new experiences to players. How do we reach out and get people engaged? How do we let them interact with each other and with the game? You have to let people have the experience they want--don't force the story on them.

tarver games ghosts attackBanks on advice for aspiring developers: A lot of developers don't have a lot of business experience, so from a business side, make sure you do your paperwork, and have your lawyers and accountants in order. Get your trademarks in place. Do your due diligence.

Cross on advice for aspiring developers: Just because you have a good idea doesn't mean it's a great idea. Chances are there are people with the same idea as yours. It's the execution that matters. The game that grabs the audience will always win--it's how people experience the game that matters.