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Interview: Telltale Games Bets Big On iPad

In August, Telltale Games saw 15 percent of its monthly revenue come from the sale of iOS games. Last month, that percentage jumped to 30. Gamasutra's Chris Morris talks to Telltale's Connors about the tablet revolution.
In August, Telltale Games saw 15 percent of its monthly revenue come from the sale of iOS games. Last month, that percentage jumped to 30. In fact, year to date, the iPad has been the fastest-growing revenue driver for the episodic game maker. That increase came amid an effort to drive new content to the device, but it was also a chance for Apple's systems to prove themselves as viable income sources. They passed the test admirably, and now Telltale CEO Dan Connors says the company is planning to dedicate considerable resources to iOS devices. "The tablet is super interesting to us because we believe the style of content we build is perfect for the form factor," he told Gamasutra in an exclusive interview. "The fact that Apple has been able to get such a powerful tablet out there with a big install base makes it the obvious place to focus. "What we're seeing is you have access to a worldwide audience. There seems to be a real proliferation of these devices across the world. And the App Store is so easy for people to purchase from. You can get your products to market really quickly and get them in front of people really quickly. There's a good diverse audience - which is really good for the content that we do." So good, in fact, that Connors says he expects the iPad to account for 15-20 percent of the revenues for every game the company launches moving forward. In the past six months, Telltale has added roughly 30 people to its studio, bringing the count to 116. The additional headcount allows the company to not only handle the wide number of licensed episodic games it's currently juggling, but to begin releasing the games simultaneously on all platforms. This November, when the first episode of Jurassic Park is released, the iPad will be included in that list of platforms. And before the end of the year, the company will release another 13 iPad titles, including Sam & Max Beyond Time & Space and the first cases in Telltale's Law & Order game. "The iPad as a form factor – specifically, the way in which you play the game - the type of entertainment that succeeds there really works well for what we do," says Connors. "The iPad 2 has gotten to a place technically where it can deliver a high quality, high tech experience." Before fans begin to worry that the company is stepping back from the PC or consoles, Connors notes that Telltale has always been a platform agnostic company and has no plans to change that philosophy. But the rapid spread of the iPad and its growing use as a gaming device makes it a logical next area of focus for the company. "We built the company from the get-go to be optimized for digital distribution," says Connors. "We've always wanted to be as device-agnostic as possible so we could be in as many places as possible." Android fans are going to have to wait a while, though. While the sheer numbers are there, the wide range of system specs (due to the diversity of hardware utilizing the OS) and the chaotic nature of the Android Marketplace makes many developers skittish to jump in – and Telltale's no exception. "We're waiting on it to define itself more from a marketplace standpoint," says Connors. One new device that the company is watching closely, though, is Amazon's affordably priced (and Android driven) Kindle Fire tablet. The question they're most curious about is whether Amazon can handle the discovery issue as well as Apple has. "As other devices comes online with a lower price point, they'll be able to get the audience," says Connors. "The question is: Will they have a storefront that's as ubiquitous as what Apple does. And will they be able to push the same level of quality from a graphical and presentation standpoint? … [But] as new platforms come online, we want to establish ourselves on those platforms as soon as possible."

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