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Jani Tietäväinen, CEO and lead producer of Finland-based Seepia Games, received funding from AppCampus to build a strategy game called Permia Duels. Since he released the app to Windows Phone six months ago, it has been hugely successful, accruing 540,000 downloads. Tietäväinen built his game to scale across multiple platforms, but now, he will be able to access over one billion Windows users via Windows 8.1—with minimal effort on his part. As he prepares to launch his game for laptop and PC users, Tietäväinen agreed to talk with me about how he plans to make the most out of his upcoming release.
What excites you the most about Windows Phone 8.1?
“We’re creating a continuous experience across different form factors, thereby increasing user engagement.”
The universal Windows app is huge. I love that you can build one app and publish it to both the Windows and Windows Phone stores without having to re-code. By publishing the app to Windows Phone 8.1, we know we’re opening the door—so to speak—to Windows users worldwide. The size of that market potential is exciting to think about. Using a common code base means we can be more efficient in managing and updating our code, and it also simplifies support scenarios.
Customers change their behavior and make different decisions based on the device they’re using, so if we want them to play our game, they need to be able to find it easily on their device. We can’t expect them to come looking for us. That’s why creating a compelling cross-platform experience matters so much. Fortunately, Windows now makes that easy. We envision our customers starting a game on their PC and then leaving and picking up where they left off on their phone or tablet. We’re using 8.1 to create a continuous experience across different form factors, thereby increasing user engagement.
What Windows Phone 8.1 features do you intend to leverage to make your game even more successful?
“[We can now] focus on building the best game we can and engaging our users rather than having to write extra code to make a feature work.”
I am particularly excited about the enhanced HTML5 support for native apps in Internet Explorer 11. Our users tend to access our game from within the browser, so I’m pleased I’ll be able to create the rich app experience with enhanced graphic support on Windows Phone 8.1. It’s great to see Microsoft innovate in this area. Google is just now starting to create native app support with Chrome, and Apple isn’t attempting anything of the sort.
I also intend to take advantage of the powerful combination that is Live Tiles and Action Center. I can use the new live tile templates to create a more visual connection with our users and then combine that with notifications through the Action Center to keep users updated and engaged.
From the perspective of a games developer, the people hub extensibility for social apps is very important because we are able to amplify our presence and invest more in connecting with users where they are likely to spend their time.
Our game is multi-player, so we run the game entirely in our backend. With background execution built into the platform, we can now be more efficient by moving some of that processing to the client side without compromising performance.
Also, we use Windows Azure quite a lot. We hope to start using Windows Azure Mobile Services as well to integrate the app with the cloud service directly.
In summary, the fact that all these features are built into the platform makes it easy for us to focus on building the best game we can and engaging our users, rather than having to write extra code to make a feature work. It’s a time-saver, and it helps us to optimize our resources.
Do you have any advice for developers?
“I encourage developers to take advantage of the 8.1 release.”
The most important thing a developer can do is to build a high-quality app. Customers will have a good experience, and strong ratings will propel more to try it.
Create a strong leadership team. Seepia Games has six founders; each of us leads a different part of the development process – from game design to backend architecture to marketing.
Finally, I encourage developers to take advantage of the 8.1 release to expand the reach of their games across Windows and Windows Phone.
Seepia Games Founders include: Jani Tietäväinen (CEO and Producer), Jani Rönkkönen (Game designer), Pasi Hirvonen (Graphic designer), Juha Hyttinen (Technology architect), Antti Villanen (Advisor and Chairman of the board), and the software service company OCTO3 Ltd.