Interview with Sami Lahtinen of RealArcade

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realarcade interview with appcraverRealArcade Mobile's games portfolio consists of more than 60 games, with support for more than1400 handsets, including a large range of touch screen devices such as the iPhone. We recently heard from Sami Lahtinen, Sr. Director of Games Development for RealArcade.

1. You’ve launched a number of good-looking apps: Sally’s Salon, Tiki Towers etc. What traits do they share beyond graphics?

SL: Not only do they look good, but they play good as well! Our passion is to create great games and offer casual games experiences that will make our audience relax, have fun and always leave them wanting more.

2. If you could be something other than a developer, what would it be?

SL: I’m happy where I’m at, but if I could try anything new I might choose rally driving!

3. Do you anticipate that iPhone apps will need to be more sophisticated over the next year as buyers become even more selective?

SL: In a free market like the App Store, there is room for countless types of applications, with varying degrees of sophistication and depth. Whether a simple 'snack' of content or a large and complex application, price must align with expectations and value.

4. Buyers have very high expectations, perhaps overly so, for apps that cost a mere $4.99. Are they unreasonable or do you think it’s a model that devs inadvertently created by releasing so many inexpensive apps just to get attention?

SL: It's all about setting appropriate expectations about content and quality. If buyers have high expectations for $4.99 apps, what happens when they purchase a $19.99 app? Some buyers are thrilled after purchasing a $4.99 fart simulator application, and that’s because the product matches their expectations. At the same time, a $0.99 app can cause great disappointment if the quality is not at the level expected by the buyer.

5. What’s the development cycle for one of your apps? Do you envision dev cycles to lengthen, driven by the increasing need to dev shinier apps?

SL: Today we are seeing roughly a six to eight month development cycle on our games, and I think that’s the right level of investment to generate a top quality casual game for the foreseeable future.

6. How does your work affect the price point for your paid apps? In other words, what do you contribute to an app that you believe gives it value?

SL: That’s a difficult question. While I can’t break up our games and single out elements to evaluate individual values, our largest priority is to create a well-balanced, high-quality game that provides an experience our audience will be happy to pay for.

7. Do reviewers like me bother you? How about people in the App Store? I see some people give an app one star, thinking that that’s a good thing. “Awesome app! Worth one star!”

SL: No and No. We love reviewers, especially when they love us! People in the App Store are our audience and, while their comments might be hard to hear or understand at times, our audience is always right. We’ve built mobile games for almost 10 years, and it’s always been difficult to find reliable sources for customer feedback. The App Store has been a real eye-opener for us, providing us with valuable customer feedback that we can use to make better games.

8. What features do you hope Apple will implement in future versions of the iPhone/SDK?

SL: It would be interesting to see features such as micropayments, improved support for localized versions of our games and enhanced control over videoplayer.

9. What’s the biggest advantage of the iPhone other than mobility?

SL: The iPhone offers remarkable ease in exploring and purchasing digital content, such as games. You can browse, read some customer reviews and if you like it, buy it. It’s easy and it works, which is really all that matters.

10. What apps are on your iPhone right now?

SL: Well, too many games to be mentioned here — though my current favorite is Tropical Towers — also known as Tiki Towers in North America. Aside from games, I really enjoy using my iPhone as my Rhapsody remote controller with the help of the Sonos client and Sonos audio system.

11.The big game studios promote their developers as rock stars. If you were a rock star, what instrument would you play?

SL: Wow. Mobile Game developers have never been considered rock stars in gaming industry. I’d have to liken us more to the banjo or accordion players! We do have quite a large fan base for our short Banjo Ballads and Accordion Anthems, and our audience loves what we do. I think most of us would rather write a nice piece of code than sign autographs, anyway!

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