Interview with Fredrik Reinius of PAN Vision, Creators of Pirates VS Ninjas VS Zombies VS Pandas
Over the past year there has been an influx in different types of games that were character inspired, related to either Pirates, Ninjas, Zombies or Pandas. PAN Vision thought it would be cool to combine all of these popular characters and create their own game called Pirates VS Ninjas VS Zombies VS Pandas or what I’m calling “PvNvZnP”…the best of all worlds.
I sat down with Fredrik Reinius, Head of Digital Marketing for PAN Vision, to discuss their upcoming title “PvNvZnP”, their previous successful titles and awards, and the company’s influence on the mobile gaming industry.
Company Name: PAN Vision
Name: Fredrik Reinius
Title: Head of Digital Marketing
Q: How do you think the iPhone has revolutionized the mobile phone industry?
The short answer to that question is: in many ways. In my opinion the main reason or feature that made the iPhone revolutionize both the mobile phone industry and the games industry is the App Store. The App Store has made it so easy getting new content onto your phone paving the way for huge growth of creativity and entrepreneurship around the world. Obviously having that great new screen and amazing touch controls didn’t hurt either.
One of the developers we work with who has been in the business since it’s inception calls the iPhone the “jesus phone”. You can divide the mobile phone business and especially the games part of it into two eras, before and after iPhone. And that kinda says it all.
Q: How do you think the iphone has revolutionized the portable gaming industry with contenders such as Sony and Nintendo?
The main revolution in my eyes has been how easy it is for new developers and creative people alike to get onto the platform, the barriers for entry are low and that creates an environment with a lot of creativity and it definitely shows in the games store. Gaming is becoming a mainstream activity in most demographic groups thanks to the iPhone.
Q: What separates your company from your competitors with mobile phone applications?
We are a small agile unit of specialists inside and backed up by a huge company, we are driven by quality and try to get games to the market that we enjoy playing ourselves.
Q: What is your company background, size (employees, developers, etc), and company inspirations?
PAN Vision with 170 employees is a big company owned by a huge consumer cooperative in Scandinavia. We are 5 people working in our unit which is part of PAN Vision and focusing on publishing digital games on many platforms such as the iPhone and consoles like the Xbox and PS3.
Q: Do you outsource any projects or development, if so, how much?
We are a publisher and as a publisher we outsource all of our development to different companies that we like and have worked with in the past. At PAN Vision we handle projects in the early phases (coming up with ideas, analyzing them and providing feedback on game design and strategy) and late phases which is mainly marketing, community and consumer management and support.
Q: Advancements in graphics and animations in the mobile phone industry have astronomically grown within the past couple of years. How much time does your company devote to graphical, animation, and sound production for mobile applications? Are there areas that you focus on?
Not really applicable for us but I feel that all of these areas are extremely important, especially the balance between them and how they intertwine. A game doesn’t have to be extremely good looking in 3d to be fun to play, I personally love the latest developments in 2d world and how that’s been developing since digital platform have taken off.
Q: How many applications has your company planned, developed, or created at any given time?
We are currently working on 10 digital games for different platforms, a majority of them for the iPhone and iPad. Our backlog of games is huge but we’ve mainly worked on family games and educational games aimed at the Nordic market.
Q: What do you think of the iPhone Operating System in comparison to other mobile platforms? Are Apple’s competitors finally producing a comparable product or has the iPhone already monopolized the niche market?
It’s great, Android is getting better and better and is definitely an option when we are looking at platforms but has problems with monetization and piracy. Windows Phone 7 is looking to be a nice platform as well especially with the Xbox Live support it’s got. For me, Apple is still ahead but needs to keep improving or they’ll be overtaken quickly.
Q: Is your company currently developing for other mobile platforms, if so, which ones and why?
Only working with iOS at the moment but we are always looking a all platforms when deciding on investments.
Q: Marketing an application can be a very difficult task. With so many applications being developed and released on a daily basis, capturing user attention in an App Store is challenging. What have you found to be an effective way to market your products to users?
In short, create a great product and make sure there are people waiting for your game to be released. Try to build hype before your release with trailers, screenshots. Also prepare your material and game for viral spread, use social networks and make it easy for people to tell their friends abour your game. Have a plan for how to market your game. But with the amount of games being released every day you can do everything right and still not make it, so it’s a bit of luck as well.
Q: Following the response above, what do you think of the store review process? Is it helping or hurting your business? What are some recommendations in order to speed up this process?
I guess you are talking about the approval process. I’d probably like it to be a bit more predictable and transparent but to be fair I have no real quarrels with it. Compared to releasing games on XBLA or PSN the App Store is heaven ☺.
Q: What do you think about other application review websites? Are they effective at providing in-depth reviews of applications and helping market your products? Or is your company experiencing challenges of trying to find quality application websites? What do you think of Appmodo?
There’s lots of competition in this field and I feel that most sites are doing a good job of covering the business. What I like about Appmodo is that you cover most platforms and that gives me a good overview of the entire market, not just the iPhone market.
Most of the review sites are doing a good job and help consumers finding new games and apps they might like. App discovery in the App Store for example isn’t great and sites like yours are doing great work in that field.
Q: What are your thoughts on the App Store user reviews and the ability to monitor them?
It’s great that people can review apps in an easy and efficient way, obviously there are problems with this as well as people tend to give apps bad reviews for minor flaws in the games and that might break an entire game. Monitoring reviews could always be easier, personally I’d like a way to give answers to reviews.
Q: What is your favorite application?
The application that I use the most is an application called “Res i STHLM / Travel in Stockholm”, it’s basically a public transportation travel planner for Stockholm, Sweden. It’s awesome. My favorite game at the moment would be Pirates vs Ninjas vs Zombies vs Pandas ;) But I also like tower defense style games.
Q: What is your most popular application? Have you received any awards or achievements for that application?
We have yet to release and application for the iPhone, Pirates vs Ninjas vs Zombies vs Pandas will be our first one on this platform. As a company we’ve had several successful titles in the past and won several awards. A game called Backpacker is one our most successful games in the past, it’s a travel quiz game that still sells lots of copies.
Thank you very much Fredrik Reinius and PAN Vision for your time.
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