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How To Find a Mobile Games Publisher? 119

n01 writes "In the last few months of my spare time, I've been implementing an abstract strategy board game (that I invented) along with a decent AI. The game resembles TwixT in that it is also a connection game, and could be played without the need for a cellphone or computer. The implementation on the Java 2 Mobile Edition platform will soon be finished, with only some minor usability and sound issues to fix. While I enjoyed working on the game (actually more than on my day job as a programmer) I would still like to earn some money from selling the game, so I can work more on such projects in the future. What experiences have Slashdot readers had with selling their applications/games for mobile phones? With which publisher will I have the broadest audience and achieve the highest earnings? Would you try to publish the game both as a mobile game and a traditional board game?"
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How To Find a Mobile Games Publisher?

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  • by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:49PM (#25840355)

    the obvious answer is, of course, opensource it and make money from related services, you insensitive clod!

    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:58PM (#25840433) Homepage Journal the very least..apply for a provisional patent. Then maybe try to sell it to a games company.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 ) the very least..apply for a provisional patent.

        copyright != patent !

        • "copyright != patent !"

          I know...and I did mean patent.

          • You cannot patent a games' rules (which is the "invention" part of the game). Heck, you can't even prevent people from copying them via copyright.
    • by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:06PM (#25840531) Journal

      On the open source note...

      If it is popular then it will get knocked off on other platforms - or maybe even on your chosen platform.

      The only way to make money then would be a lawsuit against the purveyors of said knock-off. Seeing as game rules have special designation under the law you would need to sue like the Scrabble folk did, focus on the actual board design etc.. and then you will just look like a prick to all the people who discovered 'your' game through the knock off you have now hounded in court.

      Make a couple variations on game-play, open source the code, have a contest for free (donated?) stuff awarded to the best alternative implementation of game rules etc.., and then get an online game consortium to give you an interview based not on a CV, but the conversation their reps had with you at the game expo where you were hobnobbing with your new open source gaming friends.

      Don't advertise on other game designer's comment threads without consent - hopefully you knew that already.

      Have fun most of all, though, cause your idea is probably not going anywhere - most don't and it usually isn't cause they are bad ideas. Implementation is everything.

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
        I believe you can patent a game.
        • by Mushdot ( 943219 )

          That reminds me of the Spectrum game 3D Ant Attack and its title screen - for years I thought it was written by Sandy White and Pat Pending :)

        • My original post does not say that games cannot be patented, only that there are special laws about 'game rules.' The game itself is a combination of elements that can include programming code (copyright issues), physical or electronic representations of board for play (clearly patentable if the board is a material item), maybe a couple other elements, and the game rules.

          The game rules are the wildcard under current law. If someone can implement your ruleset without infringing on the other protected eleme

          • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
            I was trying to clarify:

            Physical or electronic representations are protected by copyright, but the game (ruleset) can be patented (if innovative).

            This should give you a decade or so to implement your idea without competition.
      • like you said, most ideas/applications/games don't go anywhere. therefore, it's best not to get ahead of yourself trying to make money off of a game that people may or may not want to play.

        however, if you still want to sell the game, then just do a quick search for mobile games on the platform(s) you want to publish on. then just look up the publishers of the games you see and contact them. obviously the easier a publisher's games are to find, the better distribution and marketing they have. so just hit up

    • Well, I did a MCGA knockoff on Tetris back when the MCGA was fairly new (and nobody else seemed to konw how to program it). But when I tried to distribute it via shareware on bulletin boards, it earned me zero dollars. I am not convinced that open-sourcing or shareware are a way to make money off the game. I'm honestly not sure how a person can make money off a game. I'm only sure that my way didn't work.
  • Sorry... (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:57PM (#25840427)

    I'm sorry Mario, but your profit is in another castle.

    There's the cost of the developer SDK, getting your license, getting signed up on whatever development channel/website/thing the vendor wants everyone to play nice in, then you have to submit your work along with your SSN, DOB, and 3 drops of blood from your first born... Takes about 4-6 weeks to process your request, at which point... You find out that you violated some patent for using a contextual-menu based system utilizing the prefrontal lobes of sentient bipedal organisms for navigation and you actually owe them money.

    There is no market for innovative games in the cell phone market-- There is only Zuul.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by taniwha ( 70410 )
      or just download the android SDK for free, load up eclipse and you'll have hello world running in about 10 minutes - I was suitably impressed
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bsharitt ( 580506 )

        Android is where I'm planning to focus my efforts. The process for getting a j2me app distributed through the carriers is jsut a hair shy of futile for an independent developer. Sure there are other options to distribute J2ME apps through, but most of the market just goes throgh their carrier. Things like the Android and iPhone stores are a perfect match for independent developers.

        • Agreed. Especially considering some carriers lock down their phones so hard (Verizon) that it is impossible to install Java apps by any means other than their the carriers' download center.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dude, you don't know what you're talking about.

      The real issue here is carrier certification (if you're living in the US). Everything else is free/unusued. The JDK is free (there is no developer sdk, just the midp library), you need no license, you just need carrier certification, which a publish house can help you get through.

      As far as how to actually do this, I have no clue. You might want to check with some of the publishing companies. Good luck with that though; I have no idea how difficult that is. I ca

    • Re:Sorry... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:26PM (#25840713) Journal

      There is no market for innovative games in the cell phone market.

      I beg to differ. []


      • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

        From TFA:

        "Many of the overnight successes we've witnessed enjoyed the benefits of timing and visibility, advantages quickly being eroded due to market oversaturation," Steinberg added. "Let's put it this way: I wouldn't tell anyone to quit their day job just yet. As with any Cinderella story, chances of recreating this kind of success are few and far between."

        And that's very true. If that same game came out now, it would make peanuts... it was simply the only decent puzzle game available with the App Store

      • I do understand that you wrote in Java but as someone who would not piss on my cellphone company if they were on fire (Verizon) it think your best best is the iPhone/iPod platform. I have a Touch and I've spent half my game budget on it. You get a great distribution platform, your app is secure, and the hardware is nice. I would never pay for any app on my cellphone today.

        I'm not a developer or even a fanboi, I just like the device. It replaced my Palm Pilot and I would have an iPhone if my company woul

    • by cgenman ( 325138 )

      As parent poster points out, the publisher / developer relationship is a lot more complicated than the original poster seems to think. Publishers don't just publish, they also generally fund, shape, drive development, and eventually publish as an afterthought. Generally speaking, taking a finished game to a traditional publisher will get you a nice message saying "that's pretty, but we really were looking for something more X." Now that you've fully created the game, you can't switch to the X that they h

  • GPL it and sell it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aurelianito ( 684162 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:59PM (#25840447) Homepage Journal
    I've been thinking about doing a cellphone game and what I thought regarding distribution is to both sell it over a channel (like the Google Android Market) and GPL it. There are several profitable business that work this way (MySQL comes to my mind) and it's an interesting gamble.
    IMO, people who buy cellphone games for a dollar are not the people who will download and install GPLed games on their cellphone. Doing that you should maximize the number of people that uses your game without loosing money because of people that downloads the game and installs instead of just buying it. A paypal link (or similar) would also be a nice adition in the game web page.
    • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

      They make money off of MySQL selling support and enterprise packages. Can't really do that with a game. GPL

      • Oh shit, better tell blender they can't sell GPL games []. awww.. damnit! It's too late!

        • by PylonHead ( 61401 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:25PM (#25841127) Homepage Journal

          Nobody here is saying you can't sell GPL games. I believe he said that you can't make money doing it.

          The team working on "Yo Frankie!" are donating their time.

          The team members will get a great studio facility and housing in Amsterdam, all travel costs reimbursed, and a fee sufficient to cover all expenses during the period.

          Blender Institute is funding the project to improve their software, specifically to

          improve and validate the open source 3D game creation pipeline, with industry-standard conditions

          It's a great idea, but it's disingenuous to hold it up as an example of a business model.

        • by abigor ( 540274 )

          They aren't making money off that shit. Grow a brain.

    • I've been thinking about doing a cellphone game and what I thought regarding distribution is to both sell it over a channel (like the Google Android Market) and GPL it.

      If you go this way, and don't include any significant extras for the paid version, then you should add a clause that restricts anyone else from selling it via the same channels you are

  • iPhone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:02PM (#25840483)
    That's where the cash is. Or so I hear.
    • Re:iPhone (Score:5, Informative)

      by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:10PM (#25840577)

      iPhone apps are not based on java. He'd have to rewrite it.

      • It sounded to me like he might already have planned on multiple different 'implementations'. Instead of saying "it is written Java 2 Mobile Edition", he said "The implementation on the Java 2 Mobile Edition platform will soon be finished..."

      • iPhone apps are not based on java. He'd have to rewrite it.

        And Android apps are not really based on J2ME, requiring extra work as well...

        The hardest idea is thinking up a good game, rules, and interaction with the player. The code is nothing compared to that (well, not nothing but a good idea is still a good thing to port).

  • by MaineCoon ( 12585 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:04PM (#25840503) Homepage

    Granted it's been about 5 years since I did cellphone development, but back then every phone was different and required tweaking or custom support, and each vendor had their own Java API. Some used BREW instead of Java, which is/was an entirely different language (I spent a couple weeks rewriting a game from BREW to Java).

    That said, EA might be your best bet, they have a strong cellphone market presence now.

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:42PM (#25840845) Journal

      Granted it's been about 5 years since I did cellphone development, but back then every phone was different and required tweaking or custom support, and each vendor had their own Java API.

      I have a friend who runs a PR firm catering to the mobile apps industry, and they've all told him that they plan on their iPhone products being the bulk of their revenues by the middle of 2010, and putting all their other versions into maintenance mode. The development costs for the other smart phones aren't worth it between the different APIs per vendor and different UI and menu layouts, etc, that vary per carrier.

      The iPhone totally changed the game.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by markdavis ( 642305 )

        >The iPhone totally changed the game.

        And it is likely that Android will change the game much, much more (when it finally really takes off). Imagine writing once and being able to run on dozens of different handsets across several networks. It will be far more attractive for developers than a single, proprietary platform like the iPhone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr ( 53032 )

          Imagine writing once and being able to run on dozens of different handsets across several networks.

          Oh, imagine it by all means! Just don't expect to actually get it. Does the phrase "write once, run anywhere" ring a bell?

          It will be far more attractive for developers than a single, proprietary platform like the iPhone.

          Want to bet?


          • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @01:01AM (#25842067)
            The iPhone is .05% of world cellphone market, Blackberry is .72% (peaked at ~2.1%). MIDP 2.0 is a whopping 69.46%! All numbers taken from here []. I would say developing for MIDP 2.0 and tweaking where devices significantly vary from the standard is probably the way to go.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by 2nd Post! ( 213333 )

              Um, those numbers include non-smartphones. If you are including only smartphones (which is more reasonable as I think the market for apps is larger on smartphones), you get:

              Nokia 46.6%
              Apple 17.3%
              RIM 15.2%
              Microsoft 13.6%

              MIDP may still be the biggest market, now, but by this time next year if Apple continues to grow and expand aggressively they will probably be the bigger market.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            GP It will be far more attractive for developers than a single, proprietary platform like the iPhone.

            JCR Want to bet?

            I'm willing to bet that back in the day you thought Apple offered a more attractive platform for developers to make money on than MS did too.

            • by jcr ( 53032 )

              MS offers an excellent platform for MS to make money on. Third party developers, not so much.


              • MS offers an excellent platform for MS to make money on. Third party developers, not so much.

                As usual, you've completely missed the point. Google (like MS before them) is going to offer a more open platform, that will fill far more niches than Apple's offering.

                The spread of the platform will make it far more attractive to developers.

                • by jcr ( 53032 )

                  The spread of the platform will make it far more attractive to developers

                  Sure it will, right around the time that Linux takes over the desktop.


                  • Sure it will, right around the time that Linux takes over the desktop.

                    Again, you've utterly missed the point - Linux on the desktop has no backer, two entrenched competitors (one of whom is a convicted monopolist).

                    No such situation exists in the smartphone space. It's more analogous to the portable music player market prior to Apple entering that market.

                    • by jcr ( 53032 )

                      Again, you've utterly missed the point

                      Nope, I got your point, and I dismissed it with an analogy. Try to keep up, will you?

                      Android is something that the free software crowd is all emotional about, but once the iPhone SDK came out, Android became pointless.

                    • once the iPhone SDK came out, Android became pointless.

                      Hahaha. That is classic. I guess you think once Apple releases anything, the competitor's version becomes pointless?

                      Please - enlighten me. Tell me (tell us all) how the iPhone SDK makes Android pointless. I await your informative reply with bated breath.

                    • by jcr ( 53032 )

                      I guess you think once Apple releases anything, the competitor's version becomes pointless?

                      No, only when they release a game-changer like the iPhone.

                      BTW, do you have to expend some effort to maintain this snotty git character of yours, or is it just your everyday personality?


                    • No, only when they release a game-changer like the iPhone.

                      Hahahaahahahahahahahaha! Awesome - better than I was expecting. Game changer? Of course!. Noone's released a locked down, tied to a contract smartphone before! Thanks Apple! You've changed the game for us!!!!!!

                      BTW, do you have to expend some effort to maintain this snotty git character of yours, or is it just your everyday personality?

                      You see - this is the difference between you & others. I know your personality is (shudder) natural.

                    • by jcr ( 53032 )


                      Let's see.. Where have I seen that reaction before? []


                    • by jcr ( 53032 )

                      Oh, and since you're apparently too thick to understand how the iPhone changed the game, I'll spell it out for you:

                      1) It's the first smart phone with a decent user interface. That's why it's the fastest-selling smart phone yet.
                      2) It's easy for third parties to write apps for it that match Apple's visual quality and ease of use, since they can work with the same development environment that Apple does.
                      3) It's the first mobile phone platform where it's possible for a developer to directly reach a critical m

                    • Now, maybe you want to deny it, but the fact is that the iPhone changed the game.

                      You haven't explained (or even attempted to) why this makes android irrelevant.

        • Can't the various Android phones have different screen resolutions, input devices, etc.? So wouldn't people have to write specialized code for each type of device?

          (I don't claim the iPhone/iPod Touch will never change any of those things either, of course... but if you will have to _now_ specialize for each Android device, that still seems like a lot of work.)

          • by Zadaz ( 950521 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:13PM (#25841413)

            Yup. Android still has the same problems that drove my company away from mobile development for years. There are just too many variables. Sure there's only one Android phone now, but a year from now... Here's a short list of variables that need to be accounted for on an android phone:

            Aspect ratio
            Anamorphic pixels (yes, really, on a few handsets)
            Button placement and layout. (Nothing at all can be taken for granted. Not even the existence of buttons.)
            System permissions (which are determined on both a per model and per network basis.)
            Memory availability
            CPU speed.
            System events (incoming call handling, etc.)
            Optional input (GPS, Motion, multitouch, microphone, etc.)

            "Yes" you say, "But don't I have to take into account these things on any desktop application?" No. Not to this extent. It's easy to make an interface that works at both 800x600 and 1920×1080. It's a much greater challenge to make one that looks good at 480x320 work at 128x160. (Even class A publishers are guilty of making games that are readable in HD but not SD. Phones are a much greater challenge.)

            Catching and dealing with all of these fringe cases in programming and testing is a nightmare and significantly drives up the cost of something that is, frankly, very low margin to begin with. We found even developing for Palm was a better decision than mobile phones. (Though we even decided against that in the end.)

            As one example of the blah of the market, the only reason anyone developed N-Gauge games was that Nokia financed 100% of the development.

            However we're prototyping games for the iPhone at the moment. The SDK, path to market, and hardware support, and handsets in the field make it much more attractive than we've ever seen the mobile market in any country at any time.

            • by jcr ( 53032 )

              Your account is typical of those I heard from other developers at the Apple developer conference this year. The iPhone made life a lot better for users, but what it did for developers is beyond compare.


            • by dkf ( 304284 )

              It's easy to make an interface that works at both 800×600 and 1920×1080.

              And yet so many developers continue to fail miserably at that. And fail doubly hard when they come up against users who require large fonts.

              I must be getting a bit too cynical...

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mmurphy000 ( 556983 )

              As my sig notes, I'm somewhat biased on this topic, but I still think you're taking a narrow, short-term view of what the iPhone is.

              Yup. Android still has the same problems that drove my company away from mobile development for years.

              iPhone will have most of those same problems too. Just a bit more slowly.

              Sure there's only one Android phone now, but a year from now...

              Sure, there's only two iPhones now, plus an iPod Touch or two, but a year from now...

              Do you honestly expect Apple will forevermore keep the sa

              • by Zadaz ( 950521 )

                ...then iPhone is toast in a decade.

                If I can get a decade run on the iPhone then that's twice as long as I've gotten from any other architecture including the Playstation.

                No, Apple doesn't promise that they won't change resolution or CPU, etc, but if you look at the devepmonet environement they've accounted for it much better than Andorid has. I've looked at both Dev kits. Have you? Apple clearly has a roadmap. Android has a cobbling of specifications. I like the idea of Android but the implementation

        • by tobe ( 62758 )
          I've said it before.. but there is at least one company that provides exactly that functionality (write-once) in native C++ for a vast variety of mobile handsets. Including iPhone and Android:
        • That only matters if the sum of all Android phones outnumbers the iPhone.

          If they don't outnumber the iPhone, it will be like comparing the multitude of P4S devices vs the iPod. Proprietary is also a hard term to swallow when the SDK is actually available to download from anywhere to anyone.

    • by rogere ( 1353247 )
      Worked as a programmer for them. The major point here is the possibility for them to deploy on a massive amount of different phones and platforms. Parent mentionned BREW and Java, but there's also Symbian, Blackberries, iphone, smartphones, and soon a lot of Android. They have some multi-platform framework making a breeze of this mess. From recent events of small teams with great ideas a la World of goo, I hope they will give make more concept games and give a lesser importance to franchise games.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've worked for a game publisher for a while and maybe you should try to contact one with this proposal.
      The main problem in developing cellphone games is that there are hundreds of different models and they almost always need some tweaking to make your game fully compatible. To make a profit by selling them at $5 you need a large number of buyers, that you'll only get by porting your game to all possible (or just the most profitable) platforms. And believe me, no matter how good is an emulator, you'll al
    • J2ME compatibility has improved a bit in recent years, but there are still different quirks and bugs on different phones. And because there are so many different phones, details like performance, screen resolution, available keys etc. will vary from model to model; in the API these differences are abstracted away, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them.

      So in practice J2ME means you can port relatively easy from one phone to another, but you can never assume that if it works on one phone it will work on a

  • Take a look at (Score:5, Informative)

    by cephah ( 1244770 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:42PM (#25840847) I was recently in the same position as you and when I asked around, that was the site I was recommended.
    • by n01 ( 693310 )
      Did you hear of ? Any opinions?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cephah ( 1244770 )
        No problem.
        I haven't heard of, so I recommend taking a look around this site [], many of their members have experience with releasing mobile games and they'll gladly offer their advice and opinions on different distribution channels.
  • porting issue (Score:4, Informative)

    by jkajala ( 711071 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:01PM (#25840961) Homepage
    The problem in J2ME development is the cost of porting and QA. So my guess is that you will have hard time finding a publisher for your title, since the publisher would need to invest signifigant amount of resources to port and do QA for the title. Also, pretty much all mobile publishers have own porting platforms built on top of basic J2ME, so they would need to "port" your game to the platform as well. So in the worst case they would need to pretty much re-do your game. Plus they would need to negotiate some deal with you, which would cost time and money as well. So unless your game is extremely addictive and it shows in 2 minute gameplay, I think you can forget about finding a good mobile publisher for it.
  • I personally believe that DonationWare is one of the best ways to go, that is accept donations, but don't otherwise charge or license. For the following reasons:

    1) People will pirate your shit either way. There is no stopping it. Pirating in itself is a game of sorts.
    2) If its donation ware you don't have to feel bad providing absolutely no support.
    3) Any kind of licensing system you can come up with will either be a huge time sync on your and people will crack it anyways.
    4) The more your product is availab

  • Sleep with Carmack's wife. He'll find you!
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @10:18PM (#25841087) Homepage Journal

    People apparently make a bit of money by uploading their games to casual game sites, like Kongregate. Anybody can do this, and if your game becomes popular, you get a taste of the advertising revenue. The problem there is that only Flash games seem to be supported. Perhaps there's a way to compile a Java program to flash bytecodes instead of Java bytecodes?

    Ever since I got my first PDA, I've downloaded (and often bought) mobile device software from sites like Handango. Google for "mobile software". Their mainstay seems to one-programmer shops like yours. Don't know how you get your software there, but it can't be hard.

    Third idea: just put the software on your own web site, together with an Amazon or PayPal tip jar. Sometimes you can make more money by using your invention to create good will than you can by productizing it. I think over the years I've spend as much money rewarding authors of innovative mobile device freeware as I have buying software for these same devices.

  • An emerging revenue model is advergaming.

    You could hook up with an ad agency or whatever brand/sponsor you manage to negotiate with, and then have them license or buy the game from you as a viral advergame and brand it with a product.

    It's a pretty good business model and brings in money for some game developers/agencies.

    Essentially, instead of selling the game to individual users, it's the sponsor/brand who "buys" or licenses it and signs your paycheck, and then the players get to download and spre
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by naz404 ( 1282810 )
      Also, you could consider porting your game to Flash. Actionscript 3 syntax is very close to Java now so porting shouldn't be as painful as porting from Java to C/C++.

      If you don't want to pony up for the Flash or Flex IDEs, you can use the free Flashdevelop AS Editor/IDE [] + JDK + free Flex SDK [] combo.

      You won't be able to publish for older phones with that combo tho but it should run on Flash 10 which will be running on upcoming phones (I think it was demoed on T-Mobiles G1 Android phone at Adobe Max earl
    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      An emerging revenue model is advergaming.

      I predict that these guys [] are going to see the lion's share of their business coming from iPhone users. With their program, you don't have to sell a deal to any particular sponsor.


  • Given the current legal environment regarding "intellectual properties" ownership, are you sure that you actually own that code, and can legally sell it? Since you develop it while being employed, are you sure you didn't sign any agreement not to moonlight, or sign away any idea that passes through your head?
    • Since you develop it while being employed, are you sure you didn't sign any agreement not to moonlight

      Moonlight []? Are there even phones that run Silverlight yet?

  • ...he said it's in J2ME. NOT objective C. Why one would want to port to obj c unless they meant to make some serious cash off the apple store is beyond me. Awkward language.

    I know RIM has an upcoming app store, and Blackberry platforms run at least a subset of J2ME. I'm not a java guy so I can't say for sure how extensive the support is. Try giving it a go on a blackberry (if you don't have one, almost certainly someone you know does) and see if it runs. If it does, or all it needs is some minor tweak

    • Yeah, the Blackberry does J2ME. Of course there are the usual platform oddities. I have been writing a voice encryption app for J2ME and testing on the Blackberry. The RIM SDK might make things easier to run on Blackberrys (Blackberries?) but sticking with the J2ME libraries makes for better compatibility.

      I am using the Netbeans + Mobility Pack IDE. Totally free, and I can publish Over The Air using a webserver. No wierd restrictions like the RIM stuff.

  • Apple SDK. It is free and easy. Make them 1-3 dollars and you make buco bucks. I buy nothing for more than 3 dollars, if I can't try it first.
  • by thelegendofzaku ( 1069196 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @12:59AM (#25842053) Homepage
    See, I used to work within the depths of the mobile apps industry, so I pretty much have first hand knowledge of this sort of info. For example, when I worked for this dev that primarily worked on games and personalization apps for cellphones, most of the time, we went straight to the carrier to get our apps on the "deck," which is industry slang for the carrier's applications store that you access from your phone, hence we had business relationships with the major carriers. However, when that company first started out, it had to rely heavily on publishers, which in turn busted their balls in terms of QA'ing the apps to meet the dreaded carrier requirements.

    When I was over there, I had to work with this publisher called Airborne for supporting one of our flagship games on AT&T. We tried our best to essentially cut them off completely in order to go direct to the carrier instead, but like the parasites that they are, they were ready to turn the tables on us and affect already live builds out on the market by killing off our subscription based system that is at the heart of the game in question. So we had no choice but to stay with them and put up with their piss poor staff that were in my honest opinion, some of the shittiest QA testers I've ever worked with, always reporting non-issues thinking that they are showstopper bugs, hence they held back submission to the carrier due to false alarms.

    On the other hand, there are times you will need publishers since some of them hold the necessary digital signatures necessary to use certain MIDP API's locked out by the carrier. Case in point: T-Mobile, which requires THEIR very own digital signature to use the network on a J2ME midlet. Problem is: that sort of sig is only given out to big time mobile distributors and developers, so a person like you for example that runs a small time operation will have to rely on a publisher. What's worst is that when I worked on T-Mobile builds, I also had to work with Airborne and constantly send the builds to get signed in order to run it on the phones, and that would either take hours, or in some cases, days to get back fully signed, further slowing down the development process.

    Long story short, take your game directly to the carriers, cut the middleman, I say again, bypass him. Your game is near completion right, so surely you can easily whip up a demo that you can present to the carrier's product manager, and garner enough interest on their end to establish a business relationship with them. You're better off showing it to AT&T first since they're the largest J2ME phone carrier in the country, and most of their MIDP API's aren't locked down like the ones you need to playback video and sound. However, you're going to have to invest some money into things like digital signatures and more handsets to test it on, since once you get your foot through the door, they're going to want you to port your game to high priority devices like the RAZR and the low end LG's and Samsungs, so you have to make sure that your code is scalable to support these crappy, but high selling handsets. If I were you, I would just pool up some money to get yourself a few phones off of eBay, like a Moto RAZR, since the install base on AT&T is in the tens of millions, and a tiny screen phone like the LG CG225, which is slow as hell and has Jar size limits, but like the RAZR, is more prevalent among customers in the network. Pro-tip: the shittiest phones sold by AT&T are always the ones on the top of the priority list. Basically, the easy part was creating a working app, the hard is yet to come, where you have to port your code to various other handsets, which will mean different screen sizes, speed, and heap memory available, plus the bugs associated with them.

    However, if you want to take the independent route, you could also try a site like for example, which provides free games to users, but the devs get a cut of the ad revenues. Still, you would have to invest on at minimum a digital signature to ensur
    • Well i still work in the mobile phone industry for a games company, while we are moving towards the higher handsets (iPhone and Andriod) we still support 300-400 handsets. The department i work in is porting so trust me when i say support thousands to different devices/screen sizes/ quirks / jar limits / carrier specifications (especially vodafone always gives me a headache) So if you can avoid that route by going to a Publisher do so! they have the resources and the QA. unless your planning on getting thi
  • Try the telecom operators. They decide which games they want to embed in the phone they buy from the manufacturers. Keep in mind that they prefer games that generates traffic, so you might want to add some SMS level unlocking "feature" in your game.
  • Hi, Have you considered going the free ad-supported route? People these days are being extremely conservative with non-essential purchases, and an ad-supported platform might be your ticket to a big audience combined with revenues. There are currently two big networks out there - Hovr [] and Greystripe []. The obvious advantage with putting your game on a network like this is that you pretty much instantaneously gain a HUGE audience, with little or no extra effort on your part.

    Disclaimer - I am one of the fo
  • Learn Objective-C (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @04:28AM (#25842947)
    Buy a used Intel Mac Mini, download the iPhone development tools, and convert your software to Objective-C with UIKit. Once its done, for $99 you get access to the most professional and most profitable shop for mobile phone software - the iTunes App Store. Do a search about what has been reported about revenues. You set the price that the end user pays, and you get to keep 70 percent of that. In the last quarter, Apple was the third largest mobile phone manufacturer by revenue, and all of that revenue is iPhone. On top of that you can sell to iPod Touch users, and there are a few million of those around. And that is a market full of people who will actually _look_ at the iTunes App Store, so your application will be seen, and who are used to paying out actual cash for things.
    • I agree with the parent post. Port your app to iPhone. It might mean more development time but you will probably get much better profit margins. Your distribution and marketing costs will be near zero (except for the $99 start up fee) and your app will be available for download by millions. Apple sold over 6.8million iPhones in last quarter alone [] and there are 13million iPhones out there already.
  • Hi

    You can connect with mobile content aggregators/distributors. The revenue model varies. If your intent is to reach a larger market, go for content aggregators.

    Google around and you will get 100s of them. Leading mobile content / game development companies are also content aggregators.
    Jamba, Handango, Sumea, Jamdat etc ...

    Also note, there are so many different mobile handset brands and models. Your game/application should have handset specific versions. Check out a development framework from J
  • You could try selling it as a board game...

  • by bigredswitch ( 622835 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @07:51AM (#25843747)

    Quite a few years ago I wrote a J2ME Bluetooth racing game (along with an artist friend). We secured a popular license and publisher for it, and the previews and reviews were good (in real printed magazines!). We then sat back waiting for the mountains of cash to be delivered to our doors. It didn't happen. The game didn't get the exposure we were expecting, for whatever reason.

    Not to be deterred, we took an improved version of the game engine (since the license was tied to the publisher) and developed something new. Our previous lesson learned (don't tie yourself into stupid deals) we found a new publisher. A small one, but one who assured us premium placement on a popular brand of handsets. The testing period dragged out, much frustration ensued, but the game finally launched. Again, to good reviews [] (not as good as before, since this time the game was starting to show its age).

    It didn't really sell. Never mind, we said, we can take the it elsewhere. So we took it to one of the bigger publishers, who would give us less of a cut but a lot more exposure. The game by this time was no longer cutting edge. In 2004, when it was originally created, the renderer was impressive. Fast forward to 2007 and it looks shabby next to the other hi-end racing titles.

    Anyway, reviews were still okay and the game sold in decent numbers. That smaller cut, when going through multiple aggregators doesn't amount to much per unit, but the rise in sales make up for it. Or they would have done if we'd managed to get any of it from the distributor, who a year after the deal was signed went into receivership without ever paying a penny.

    Developing games anonymously for the big guys made money. Pushing our own stuff never did.

    For the curious, you can grab the game's source code here []

  • Don't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by core ( 3330 )

    Releasing to J2ME handsets is a money and time sink; consider Gameloft with their 200+ developers working fulltime on porting to specific handsets.. there are 300+ devices to test on. Consider targetting a single form factor like the iphone instead, or releasing it as a flash game - as a single mechanic without heavy production values would be a little light these days for a pc/mac downloadable.. then you'll probably have a fighting chance.

    Best regards,

  • Any advices how to get more visibility for freeware (Nokia Symbian 9.x) ? I've tried Nokia Mosh, but it seems not doing much.
  • Gameloft is the mobile games leader so I'd try to go with them.

  • But they keep moving around...

  • by juanfe ( 466699 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @11:20AM (#25845851) Homepage

    n01, you're on the right track thinking about going with a publisher.

    I used to run developer programs for a large US wireless carrier, and now do so for a large Latin American wireless carrier. In general, I encourage small Java ME developers not to bury themselves trying to negotiate with the carrier directly. Unless you have something extremely innovative or a brand that a mid-level product manager type in a wireless company can recognize, you're probably going to lose a lot of money, time and brain cells getting anyone who can launch your product at SprATiT-zon to respond to you. And say you DO get their attention: that's almost even worse, since coming up with some kind of content distribution agreement with a gigantic corporation will consume all your waking hours.

    So start small, and grow from there depending on how your app does.

    - Make sure the stuff works. You should start researching Mobile Publishers out now, but before you do, make sure your game is rock-solid on as many devices as possible.
    - Work with a content porting service. There are companies that can help you make sure your game works on all these devices. One I know of that I can recommend (they used to be a development shop as well, they know the pain of the small developer) is Tira Wireless -- they have a program that can take your midlet and help you port it to the hundreds of devices you'll need to build the MIDlet for to get any traction: []
    - Get your MIDlet run through a generic certification program like JavaVerified []. Many operators require it, it is a very good basic quality test that meets about 96% of the requirements of any operator, and at least shows that you're serious. One company I've worked with that does a good job with that is NSTL ( The other labs that do Java Verified (RelQ, Babel, CapGemini) also have good reputations.
    - Join the developer programs of operators worldwide you'd WANT to work with. It will give you a sense of whether or not they care about developers like you. Companies in English-speaking countries that I think are able/willing to work with smaller developers are AT&T, Orange, Sprint (the Nextel side), T-Mobile to a certain extent, and of course, we are [] (although I must say that you're probably not quite there yet to work with us, mostly due to language issues). Particularly, make sure you can that it is easy to get the data services you need for your application to work - since yours uses a data network, if it's tricky to get the service (or tricky for you as a developer to get it working) chances are you're going to be hitting a brick wall sooner rather than later. The forums on these sites will give you a good idea of where the pain points are for developers.

    NOW, find a publisher.
    There are a number Publishers or Aggregators that work with guys like you to get good game placement without trying to gouge you too badly. I will mention two that I have worked with and respect (and that have a good reputation), and that are of a size that would work well with what your game sounds like it does.

    - Digital Chocolate - focuses on social mobile games. Good company to do business with from a carrier's perspective. []
    - Cellmania - they're an aggregator that also runs a number of storefronts for various operators worldwide. They do a good job putting apps on the long tail to see what happens with it. []

    IF YOU ARE SERIOUS about it, then do this. There is money to be made if your application really is good and different and sticky.
    If you're not in a position or willing to spend some money on it up front, or to dedicate s

  • If you’re good, I’ll publish you! But it has to be good.
  • Money? from making games on your spare time? I wish I knew how to do that....
  • When the Palms originally came out I thought that it would be a good opportunity to make an entry into the gaming industry. I didn't get the impression that I could probably ever make enough to support myself doing it and so I didn't pursue it. Not sure exactly how your app works, but MySpace has been starting to offer some, kind of neat, old-old school style, turn based apps and when I first started fooling around with them I immediately thought that this was a very promising new avenue for entry into th
  • I have had experience on both sides of the fence...product developer and venture capitalist... So I see what makes applications successful in the mobile or web world. The first challenge is always how to get consumer a "side gig" the issue is how to do this on no or very little budget. Launching a Facebook or iPhone application can provide some traction, however with so much competition you could also get lost in space with all of the applications being submitted on a daily basis. So, my re
  • I like traditional games(board games) even though I have no one to play with it's nice when I do so we can just sit around, talk, and not have the flashing stuff which can cause an uncontrollable moment in me(seizure's like) or distrastions

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.