m_guillemotAt WWDC Touch Arcade had the opportunity to interview Gameloft President and CEO Michel Guillemot concerning his views on iPhone gaming and what the announcement of the new iPhone 3G S means to his studio.

Guillemot's involvement in the game industry began with the formation of Ubisoft Entertainment by him and his brothers in 1986.  Ubisoft quickly became a very successful publisher as gaming evolved into a major industry.  But as Guillemot tells it, he longed to get back to the days of home computer gaming, when people owned a computer primarily for reasons other than gaming, but would engage in casual gaming as a matter of course.  Seeing the rise of the mobile handset, which he (correctly) believed most everyone would soon be carrying, Guillemot saw an opportunity to provide games in a model analogous to the home computer days of old.  And so was born Gameloft in 1999.

The highly successful Gameloft of 2009, with 4,000 employees worldwide, develops games for around 1,200 different mobile handsets as well as most major home and mobile consoles.  But Guillemot makes no effort to hide his particular excitement for Apple's iPhone platform.

When Steve Jobs announced the App Store and the business model, I said they are going to do as well on the App Store and on the business model as what they did on the iPhone itself, which is creating something which is quite mature, quite balanced, quite sustainable in the long run.  And that's why, as a company, we decided to really invest and support it, because it was, to me, really a kind of very advanced thinking to have these three elements [iPhone, iTunes and the business model] connected and together, reaching consumers with a very comprehensive approach.  So, I think it was very much 21st century in the making and a clear cut from anything we had seen so far.

In his view, Apple set the tone for the mobile gaming device of the 21st century.

What I think is that two years ago, handset makers and carriers were a little bit lost. We were telling them that they should bet on the game side -- to make sure that the handset would be game friendly. But, for some reason, they were not. And then Apple came and convinced many people -- the right way: see, it works! And now what we see is that everyone is trying to emulate them. Apple came from outside and took the lead.... And so I expect that, in the race where the leader is still running and still accelerating [ laughs ], it's challenging. Because, if they already overtook you and they're still accelerating, you really have to consider that seriously if you want to remain in the race.

gameloft logo imageAnd while he is dedicated to supporting the newly emerging units that seek to surpass the iPhone, he points out that for gaming those companies are at a disadvantage.  The just-launched Palm Pre, for example, Guillemot considers to be a nice device, but feels its webOS HTML5 development model puts it just about where the iPhone was for gaming before the SDK was announced.  The Android devices, he feels, also hold less promise for gamers as compared to Apple's device.

Android is Java ... Java takes two-thirds of the power.  So, when you drive a car - if you take the same car with 1/3 of the horse power, you will not have the same experience.

Guillemot was pleased by Apple's announcement of the iPhone 3G S on Monday and is eager too see what advancements the new hardware will enable for his studio's games.  And while he feels the more capable device will raise gamers' expectations and make the coming year more challenging than the last for iPhone gamemakers, he appears to be rather undaunted.

Perhaps no surprise from a man whose studio creates games for most every mobile platform on the planet.

  • http://germany-today.co.uk Sam

    wow he looks menacing!

  • http://germany-today.co.uk Sam

    wow he looks menacing!

  • Tower Defender

    hmm I never knew Gameloft even had a relation to Ubisoft. I guess now I know.

    GI Joe: And knowing is half the battle!

  • Tower Defender

    hmm I never knew Gameloft even had a relation to Ubisoft. I guess now I know.

    GI Joe: And knowing is half the battle!

  • Oliath

    I really don't see the 3GS as changing gaming that much.
    A developer isn't going to limit their sales by only producing something for the new hardware and then new hardware isn't enough of an enhancement for everyone to rush out and get one.

    This means that most devs will either have to work for both specs and make the game scalable which will cost them more...... or just ignore it.

    Or is it more simple than this?

    I have been wondering for a long time how a radically more powerful device would work with the current model apple have going. Would they have to have a specific app store only accessable from the newer hardware? The last thing they want is people accidentally purchasing stuff they suddenly cannot play.

  • Oliath

    I really don't see the 3GS as changing gaming that much.
    A developer isn't going to limit their sales by only producing something for the new hardware and then new hardware isn't enough of an enhancement for everyone to rush out and get one.

    This means that most devs will either have to work for both specs and make the game scalable which will cost them more...... or just ignore it.

    Or is it more simple than this?

    I have been wondering for a long time how a radically more powerful device would work with the current model apple have going. Would they have to have a specific app store only accessable from the newer hardware? The last thing they want is people accidentally purchasing stuff they suddenly cannot play.

  • Sambo110

    Maybe games will have requirements, and if you purchase an app for a device higher than yours it will say "WARNING, this is not compatible on your device!". Or something like that.

  • Sambo110

    Maybe games will have requirements, and if you purchase an app for a device higher than yours it will say "WARNING, this is not compatible on your device!". Or something like that.

  • http://erikveland.com Erik K Veland

    The older model will encourage developers to keep optimising their games. The 3GS will simply run them better with a smoother framerate and faster launching.

    There might be the chance of some games only targeting the 3GS, but that will surely be a small minority.

  • http://erikveland.com Erik K Veland

    The older model will encourage developers to keep optimising their games. The 3GS will simply run them better with a smoother framerate and faster launching.

    There might be the chance of some games only targeting the 3GS, but that will surely be a small minority.

  • Jon

    "Java takes 2/3 of the power"
    2/3 the power of what?

    I've used Java for over 10 years, and I'm not sure what this made up statistic is refering to lol

  • Jon

    "Java takes 2/3 of the power"
    2/3 the power of what?

    I've used Java for over 10 years, and I'm not sure what this made up statistic is refering to lol

  • http://www.bitrabbit.net BitRabbit

    In fact, Guillemot brothers involvment in gaming industry began even before the creation of Ubisoft in 86. As early as 83 or 84, they had set up "Guillemot Software", which was one of the first companies to massively import games from the US and UK for the French market, which had very few games available for computers like Commodore 64, Spectrum or consoles like Atari 2600...

  • http://www.bitrabbit.net BitRabbit

    In fact, Guillemot brothers involvment in gaming industry began even before the creation of Ubisoft in 86. As early as 83 or 84, they had set up "Guillemot Software", which was one of the first companies to massively import games from the US and UK for the French market, which had very few games available for computers like Commodore 64, Spectrum or consoles like Atari 2600...

  • elf_mz

    I really don't understand why people think it is going to be hard to publish games that take advantage of the new specs and are also playable on the old ones. The PC industry has been doing this for years, you will just have some extra settings screen.

  • elf_mz

    I really don't understand why people think it is going to be hard to publish games that take advantage of the new specs and are also playable on the old ones. The PC industry has been doing this for years, you will just have some extra settings screen.

  • Alex Hardy

    @Jon The 2/3 figure seems a bit off the top of his head. I guess he's not referring to Java on the desktop, but on average across mobile phone handsets (which are obviously much lower powered). A Java VM must surely take a big bite out of a mobile phone's resources...

    It does raise an interesting point about the fragmentation issue. I reckon most developers will target the lowest spec necessary for their game (Dizzy Bee, Fieldrunners etc don't a 3GS).

    It takes a bigger developer like EA, Sega, Gameloft, Ngmoco, Chillingo or Firemint to make a device-pushing 3D game. I'd expect those kinds of developers to be pretty relaxed about the extra effort of making a game scale.

    If you're used to supporting over a thousand different phone specs, you're not going to break a sweat over two :)

    I wonder though, will it become a storage issue? If you've got an 8Gb 1st-gen iPhone, you probably don't want to download a "fat" version of a game that's loaded with features you can't use...

  • Alex Hardy

    @Jon The 2/3 figure seems a bit off the top of his head. I guess he's not referring to Java on the desktop, but on average across mobile phone handsets (which are obviously much lower powered). A Java VM must surely take a big bite out of a mobile phone's resources...

    It does raise an interesting point about the fragmentation issue. I reckon most developers will target the lowest spec necessary for their game (Dizzy Bee, Fieldrunners etc don't a 3GS).

    It takes a bigger developer like EA, Sega, Gameloft, Ngmoco, Chillingo or Firemint to make a device-pushing 3D game. I'd expect those kinds of developers to be pretty relaxed about the extra effort of making a game scale.

    If you're used to supporting over a thousand different phone specs, you're not going to break a sweat over two :)

    I wonder though, will it become a storage issue? If you've got an 8Gb 1st-gen iPhone, you probably don't want to download a "fat" version of a game that's loaded with features you can't use...

  • Tower Defender

    I know huh Chris. It's like before the photoshoot, the camera guy told him to smile and he said, "Do I have to?" ... *sigh* Errrr?

    *Snap*

  • Tower Defender

    I know huh Chris. It's like before the photoshoot, the camera guy told him to smile and he said, "Do I have to?" ... *sigh* Errrr?

    *Snap*

  • reinhart_menken

    I don't get these people who just think better hardware will only make apps run smoother and launch faster...

    I mean...they obviously don't know jack shit about polygons and etc when it comes to 3D games.

  • reinhart_menken

    I don't get these people who just think better hardware will only make apps run smoother and launch faster...

    I mean...they obviously don't know jack shit about polygons and etc when it comes to 3D games.

  • reinhart_menken

    Need to acknowledge the fact that your old device will suck when they start releasing games like PSP's God of War (if their "above PSP" claim is true), and that you're broke and can't get it (like me) instead of saying the new device won't worth shit.

    I'm worried about storage too though, since when games with better graphics come out they're certainly and easily weigh in around 200 MB if not significantly more. (PSP games are around a gig)

  • reinhart_menken

    Need to acknowledge the fact that your old device will suck when they start releasing games like PSP's God of War (if their "above PSP" claim is true), and that you're broke and can't get it (like me) instead of saying the new device won't worth shit.

    I'm worried about storage too though, since when games with better graphics come out they're certainly and easily weigh in around 200 MB if not significantly more. (PSP games are around a gig)

  • Alex Hardy

    No company that likes making money is going to disregard 40 million users of older-model iPhone and iPod Touches.

  • Alex Hardy

    No company that likes making money is going to disregard 40 million users of older-model iPhone and iPod Touches.

  • Melisa

    The thing is applications may run smoother with new hardware but that will require more space so that applies some kind of pressure on the hardware industry too... its complicated actually, but I don't see why old apps would not be compatible with new hardware... maybe just excuses for an upgrade

  • Melisa

    The thing is applications may run smoother with new hardware but that will require more space so that applies some kind of pressure on the hardware industry too... its complicated actually, but I don't see why old apps would not be compatible with new hardware... maybe just excuses for an upgrade

  • Alex Hardy

    Just a thought, maybe the in-app purchase mechanism could be put into use to make everyone happy here? Here's a scenario:

    1) Developer sells standard (i.e. targeted to the majority of the user base) version of game for normal price

    2) Users can then optionally download (ideally for free) the 3GS enhancements (whatever they are)

    I don't have a problem with progress, but if the iPhone is going to take on an accelerated rate of yearly progress that's more like a mobile phone upgrade than a console generation then it needs to be handled smoothly.

  • Alex Hardy

    Just a thought, maybe the in-app purchase mechanism could be put into use to make everyone happy here? Here's a scenario:

    1) Developer sells standard (i.e. targeted to the majority of the user base) version of game for normal price

    2) Users can then optionally download (ideally for free) the 3GS enhancements (whatever they are)

    I don't have a problem with progress, but if the iPhone is going to take on an accelerated rate of yearly progress that's more like a mobile phone upgrade than a console generation then it needs to be handled smoothly.

  • Almy

    Well that explains a lot about why Gameloft games are short and have no depth. I didn't know it was founded by someone who didn't like making PC games that have depth.

  • Almy

    Well that explains a lot about why Gameloft games are short and have no depth. I didn't know it was founded by someone who didn't like making PC games that have depth.

  • spiffyone

    @elf_mz Says:

    The different specs on PC development is among the very reasons that formerly PC centric developers have moved away from the PC game market and into the home console market. Think of all of the "big" PC games released the past few years. Most were developed for XBox 360 primarily as the "target" platform. Why? Less headaches to deal with, less dev costs.

    Apple was supposed to "change the mobile market" with the iPhone and iPod touch. Instead they have fallen into the same trap as a Nokia and the rest. Apple had the advantage of having two product lines (iPhone and iPod touch) that ran on the same base hardware, with few differences here and there. Different clockspeeds and RAM speed, but same base CPU, same base GPU. 3Gs has a next gen PowerVR GPU (SGX) rather than MBX-lite (as in the current line). Apple's advantage wasn't hardware. Two years running it is still a significant part of the mobile industry not because of hardware but because of the fusion of software and hardware and accessibility through the App Store. That's Apple's advantage. It's the software, not the hardware. They could've run with the same base hardware, with minor redesigns (changing the GPU is a MAJOR change), for another year and a half to two years giving the current line a better life cycle while also extending the time until the real "next gen" iPhone and iPod touch would be released with even better tech than this 3Gs.

  • spiffyone

    @elf_mz Says:

    The different specs on PC development is among the very reasons that formerly PC centric developers have moved away from the PC game market and into the home console market. Think of all of the "big" PC games released the past few years. Most were developed for XBox 360 primarily as the "target" platform. Why? Less headaches to deal with, less dev costs.

    Apple was supposed to "change the mobile market" with the iPhone and iPod touch. Instead they have fallen into the same trap as a Nokia and the rest. Apple had the advantage of having two product lines (iPhone and iPod touch) that ran on the same base hardware, with few differences here and there. Different clockspeeds and RAM speed, but same base CPU, same base GPU. 3Gs has a next gen PowerVR GPU (SGX) rather than MBX-lite (as in the current line). Apple's advantage wasn't hardware. Two years running it is still a significant part of the mobile industry not because of hardware but because of the fusion of software and hardware and accessibility through the App Store. That's Apple's advantage. It's the software, not the hardware. They could've run with the same base hardware, with minor redesigns (changing the GPU is a MAJOR change), for another year and a half to two years giving the current line a better life cycle while also extending the time until the real "next gen" iPhone and iPod touch would be released with even better tech than this 3Gs.

  • http://www.sleekgames.net psionic

    I believe it'll come down to whether or not we can run the same OpenGLES code on the new graphics hardware. From a brief look at the documentation this doesn't seem to be the case, however I believe the Star TD game developers said that their WWDC demo was on the new iPhone 3GS, and they definitely use OpenGLES.

    So, it's the lowest common denominator thing. This doesn't separate the platforms enormously. Simply develop for an iPod Touch 1st gen as the target device and it'll still run along the entire platform.

    It's basically going to be like the XBox 360.. it can run XBox games, but it can also run its own custom content.

    When the controllers come out for the iPod Touch/iPhone using the new dock connector compatibility that was released in 3.0, we'll get an entirely new platform to play with, and honestly, there's nothing like the iPhone 3GS in the mainstream at the moment. Dual analog controls from an accessory, combined w/ pixel & vertex shader support and soon enough we'll have a stripped down version of Crysis :P

    Chris.

  • http://www.sleekgames.net psionic

    I believe it'll come down to whether or not we can run the same OpenGLES code on the new graphics hardware. From a brief look at the documentation this doesn't seem to be the case, however I believe the Star TD game developers said that their WWDC demo was on the new iPhone 3GS, and they definitely use OpenGLES.

    So, it's the lowest common denominator thing. This doesn't separate the platforms enormously. Simply develop for an iPod Touch 1st gen as the target device and it'll still run along the entire platform.

    It's basically going to be like the XBox 360.. it can run XBox games, but it can also run its own custom content.

    When the controllers come out for the iPod Touch/iPhone using the new dock connector compatibility that was released in 3.0, we'll get an entirely new platform to play with, and honestly, there's nothing like the iPhone 3GS in the mainstream at the moment. Dual analog controls from an accessory, combined w/ pixel & vertex shader support and soon enough we'll have a stripped down version of Crysis :P

    Chris.

  • menom

    I agree with Sam (1st Poster)

    Msr. Guillemot looks like he'a about to rip a baby to shreds in that picture

    as a photographer, I dread to think what had been said to him just before the picture was taken

  • menom

    I agree with Sam (1st Poster)

    Msr. Guillemot looks like he'a about to rip a baby to shreds in that picture

    as a photographer, I dread to think what had been said to him just before the picture was taken