Interview: Capcom's Cosmic Infinity Acquisition
Modojo spoke with the heads of Capcom Mobile and Cosmic Infinity to discuss Capcom's recently announced acquisition of the Toronto-based mobile developer...
The seemingly never-ending stream of mobile mergers and acquisitions continued today, with Capcom Mobile's announcement that it had acquired Toronto-based mobile developer/publisher Cosmic Infinity. The company is perhaps best known as owners of the North American mobile rights to Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but Capcom made it clear that Cosmic Infinity was a fit with their mobile roadmap, and acquired the company to accomplish much more than pick up the powerful license.
Modojo spoke with Capcom Mobile General Manager and Senior Vice President Midori Yuasa, Cosmic Infinity's Vice President of Business Development Matt Gillis, and Cosmic Infinity President Dave Dies to discuss the acquisition.
Small, but Mighty
Cosmic Infinity's history goes as far back as the history of mobile gaming itself. "I've been in the videogame business for 20 years, and around 1999 I was doing work for the GameBoy Color," Dies explained. "Around that time I started hearing rumors about the next generation of mobile phones, and their potential as a gaming platform. At that time - late 99, early 2000 - I decided to transition the entire company into mobile [development]. We spent the next 2-3 years developing a wide variety of mobile products."
The company remains small, employing just six people, but has been built from the ground up with no venture capital. Dies serves as chief coder in addition to running the company, leaving no doubt as to the priorities of Cosmic Infinity's small team. The company prides itself on its cross-platform technology.
"We support all three major technologies - J2ME, BREW, and WAP [browser]," Dies explained. "Users can compete transparently against one another, regardless of which technology they're using to play, which is fairly unique in this industry."
Who Wants to be a License Holder
In addition to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire license, Capcom picked up a couple other interesting licenses held by Cosmic Infinity. The company runs a mobile golf MMO that carries the Golf Channel license, and also has a close relationship with casual PC game developer Large Animal Games, having ported two of their titles to mobile.
"In the future we think there is a significant opportunity to launch casual titles simultaneously on PCs and mobile," Gillis said. "This is something we're going to be very excited to talk more about in the coming months.
There's no denying that the crown jewel of CI's stable of licenses is WWtbM, however.
"We have a longterm partnership with Buena Vista TV, and acquired the licensing rights back with the show was in its hayday. It's still extremely popular however, and remains one of the top-rated syndicated shows on television," Dies said. "The mobile game has become a bestseller thanks to a number of factors. It's perfect for mobile and ports extremely well. Compared to other trivia titles like Trivial Persuit, people tend to have more fun, since they can get more questions correct before being stumped. Lastly we give players the option to cycle out their collection of 450 questions for a new batch, any time they get sick of the questions included."
The Capcom Connection
Capcom didn't just look to Cosmic Infinity to broaden its collection of licenses beyond the company's console titles, however. The acquisition creates significantly greater production capacity for the mobile division.
"One of my big incentives is that Cosmic Infinity does all their work in-house," Yuasa explained. "The acquisition gives us significantly more in-house production ability. Moving forward we fully intend to have team working on Capcom licenses, so we can keep more of that development internal."
"A lot of mobile developers and publishers have the production capabilities but not the licenses, or vice versa. What was so attractive about Cosmic Infinity is that they have both. Their casual franchises are an excellent compliment to Capcom's franchises, which are more recognizable to a hardcore audience."