[Speaker Profile] Chaynor Hsiao – PlayNext

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A developer and publisher of cutting edge mobile titles,  PlayNext has a team with a ton of experience in the game industry. Chaynor Hsiao is a Project Manager, working on development projects for Mobile and the publishing side of the PC business. Most recently, he moved into the Production team and has been focused on the art production for X-Men: Battle of the Atom. Here’s what he has to say about life at PlayNext.

You used to be Aeria games, but were recently bought out and are now in a transitioning phase. Can you tell us a bit about that? How is the transition going? How does PlayNext differ from Aeria?

We actually sold our PC business off to ProSieben. The transition is pretty much all but done. We have a services agreement that allows us to provide support during this time, but in general, we’ve fully transitioned over. The true branding work has just begun (creating logos, contracts, press releases, website). If you’re asking about what’s changed…. mostly our focus and the expansion of tools in our toolbox. We retained a lot of the knowledge and core competencies from our PC publishing business, while rapidly developing new capabilities to help us succeed in mobile game development. The above was a great test of our adaptability – we had to do something that we were never did before. I’m happy to say it worked out well.

PlayNext recently launched Marvel: Battle of the Atom. What kind of challenges did you face creating a game around such a world famous IP? As a first game for PlayNext, how is the launch going?

The launch is going well! Probably the biggest challenge surrounding X-Men was developing a game when we had never done something similar before. We essentially converted a web development/portal team into a game development team and we did it in a very short period of time. Meeting milestones, implementing feedback from licensors, and then bringing it all together in a package that players enjoy was a very challenging endeavor.

Now that you are focused more on mobile gaming, what do you think the most important distinction is between mobile and PC?

The key differences right now between Mobile and PC are numerous, but the noteworthy few that I’ve experienced are: PC provides a more immersive experience, but device fragmentation is very high (No two systems are the same). Troubleshooting problems is harder. Hacking is more prevalent. Analytics is not a standardized practice, so metrics vary from game to game. The market is frankly narrowing, and it’s harder and harder to provide a compelling experience without seriously long development times and a nuclear proliferation level rise in demands on computing power.

In contrast, Mobile is more “casual”. Play sessions on PC are measured in hours, while on mobile they’re measured in minutes. Device fragmentation on iOS is very small. Hacking is less prevalent, troubleshooting is easier, and analytics solutions are more standardized, making it easier to see how you’re doing in relation to other developers and apps.

The most important reason is that the mobile market is growing faster.

What do you think the most important mobile trend will be for 2014 and how will PlayNext approach it?

We think with the market becoming more crowded that publishers will be needed to sustain overall pace of mobile growth. In that, we aim to apply our core strength, which is our long experience working with overseas developers to publish Asian games in the West. As more talented studios seek to expand mobile games into NA territory, we will be looking to replicate many of our PC publishing successes on iOS and Android platforms.