• 52°

Durham start-up builds video games for mobile devices

DURHAM (AP) — With mobile phones in many people’s pockets and TVs up on their walls, Rob Witman believes that the future of video game play will combine the two technologies.
Witman, 36, is the founder of the two-person Durham start-up company Splitmo, which is developing games that are played using mobile iPhones and iPad tablets, while viewed on TV screens.
The company is looking to release a new game this week, and has recently landed a new partnership for one of their existing games.
“We are working on mobile/TV connections because we see that as the future,” Witman said in an email. “It is still early, but it is coming, and this could very well be the first year it goes mainstream.”
The company is expecting to launch a new, free game called “Snake Life” that will be available as an iPhone or iPad app and for use on the Apple TV. The idea is based off a simple game that Witman said he played on his calculator in high school math class.
“What else were you going to do in math class?” he said.
Demonstrating how the game is played, Witman used his mobile phone to navigate a snake around the TV screen, accumulating points by eating mice.
“It’s a simple concept — it doesn’t take much thought,” Witman said.
Witman and Phil Jacobsen, the 47-year-old principal engineer for Splitmo, designed the game in-house in about six months. They did all of the development, but contracted out the music and artwork.
While the game is free to play, users can pay for extra features. Witman said they’re choosing to launch the game now because it’s a quieter time in the industry after the big holiday push, Witman said.
“However, people still have their gift cards, and new devices are getting a lot of use, so this ends up being a nice time to launch a game for smaller development shops like us,” he said.
And recently, they landed a deal to have their first game — a video poker game called “Poker Night TV” — available to AT&T U-verse TV subscribers.
AT&T U-verse, which is available now in Chapel Hill, but not in Durham, is a digital TV, high-speed Internet, and digital phone service delivered over fiber-optic technology. Customers play the free, digital version of “Texas Hold’em Poker” by connecting their smartphone or tablet to their U-verse TV receiver over Wi-Fi.
The game has already been available for Apple TV device users.
While he said he couldn’t release specific revenue or usage information, Witman said the company is currently privately funded using revenue from his last start-up, which is called RiffWare. They’re not cash-flow positive yet.
Mobile gaming is a competitive business, but Witman said there’s the hope of enjoying success seen by other developers. “Candy Crush Saga,” a top grossing free iOS app by King.com, was estimated by Think Gaming to generate $946,788 in daily revenue.
While Witman said that’s an “aberration,” that’s the hope.
Lewis Ward, research director of gaming for International Data Corp., a provider of information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology market information, said in terms of revenue, mobile gaming was still smaller in total revenues than console or computer games, but revenues for mobile games grew faster in 2013.
“It’s definitely a growing market,” he said.
And in terms of connecting handheld gaming devices to TVs, Ward said recent survey data has shown that it’s not “through the roof,” but is noteworthy. The ability to connect a smartphone to a TV for gaming threatens companies in the traditional console game business like Nintendo Co. Ltd., Microsoft Corps., and Sony Corp., he said.
“At least, casual games — the type of games that are very popular on smartphones and tablets — are going to be able to move those experiences on to the living room big screen, and have less of a (reason to have game consoles to play similar games,” he said.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs

Nation/World

FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight

Crime

Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law

Nation/World

Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago

Business

State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March

Coronavirus

NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly

News

Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain

Elections

Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full

Local

Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity

Coronavirus

Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread