Will PC, Console and Mobile Games Converge?

Developers can use Leadwerks latest engine to create mobile games with Triple-A graphics.

Josh Klint founder CEO Leadwerks mobile game development platform provider

Josh Klint, Leadwerks founder and CEO, describes the company's recently launched Leadwerks 3 game engine as a new approach to mobile game development.

As the continuing evolution of tablets and smartphones has made more immersive mobile games possible, the once-yawning chasm between PC and mobile gaming has narrowed. One company is hoping to close that gap entirely and set the stage for a future where console, PC and mobile games all provide gamers with a triple-A experience.

The mobile gaming market is growing quickly; it’s expected to reach $86.1 billion by 2016, according to report from NewZoo, a market research firm. Leadwerks Software is hoping to capture part of the market with its recently launched Leadwerks 3 development platform. Competing with larger players such as Unity and Havok, the small Las Vegas-based company hopes that its C++-based development engine for building mobile games for PC/Mac, iOS and Android will open a door to mobile for many software developers.

“Most of the professional developers are stuck in the console world right now and they don’t really venture out of that,” said Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks. “What I discovered is in terms of per unit processing horsepower, mobile graphics are much more capable than PC and console graphics.”

During a recent visit to Hacker Lab in Sacramento, Klint sat down to discuss the aggressive development cycle for mobile, touchscreens on PCs and how soon console, PC and mobile games will converge.

What does the future look like for mobile games on tablets and smartphones?

There’s the world of games that you play on consoles from triple-A studios and then there’s the world of mobile, and until now they have been really separate. I think the hardware capabilities of mobile are getting to the point where those two worlds can merge. Mobile doesn’t have to be off on its own, and it’s about to merge with the conventional game industry. In the near future, within 2 years, certainly, when the next “Call of Duty” or whatever comes out it will be available on the next Xbox, PlayStation 4, the PC and whatever iPad and Android tablets are available at the time. We’re not very far from being able to put triple-A graphics on mobile.

What is Leadwerks’ role in that mobile gaming future?

We built a game engine on pure C++, which is what the game industry uses, and we built it because we know there will be a lot of professional studios that will soon move over to mobile. We built the Leadwerks 3 game engine expressly for the purpose of meeting their needs. It will scale extremely well because we built it on pure native code, which is C++. We can enable them to build triple-A games on mobile. Until recently, mobile has been kind of like its own little thing, using it for simple games, but we’re getting to the point where you can actually play immersive games with great graphics on mobile. That’s what we see happening. That’s how we are positioning our company.

Josh Klint CEO mobile game development platform provider Leadwerks

"The next step is to push mobile graphics quite a lot further than they've been to-date," said Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks.

Mobile games make use of touch, but do you see touchscreens becoming part of the PC gaming experience?

I think for mobile touch is here to stay. I would like to say the same for PC, but I don’t think it’s true. The extent that touch makes sense on a PC is a trackpad. I think Windows 8 was a colossal mistake that anybody could have seen a mile away. I’m actually more excited about the future of Linux than I am about Windows. Linux is something that has been in the back of my mind and when you see companies like Valve leading the way with support for Steam on Linux we think there’s a big potential there for games and game development tools. We have started building Leadwerks for Ubuntu. Because Leadwerks is written in pure C++ it’s relatively easy for us to get it running on Linux. We think there’s a good future there.

What’s the biggest difference in developing mobile games for tablets and smartphones compared to developing them for the PC?

Mobile moves fast. The development cycles are faster, the hardware is fast. In the console world we get a new generation about every 7 years. PCs, like, every year and a half, maybe, 2 years. In mobile we get a new generation every 6 months. This means at any given point in time the average wait time for the next generation of mobile hardware is just 90 days. When companies expand into mobile they need to get in fast. What we provide is an accelerated path into mobile so they don’t have to deal with all the details that we already figured out. We make it easy for them to transfer all their existing code assets into mobile because everything we do is based on pure C++. All these game studios have legacy code that’s all their IP. For example, if they were to go with Unity or something like that they would have to throw all that code away and transfer all their IP over to C sharp, which really isn’t a language commonly used in the game industry.

We pushed high-end graphics on PC as far as we could (with Leadwerks 2) and that had been our specialty. So we took all that knowledge and found out that a lot of that translated over to mobile. In other words, optimization on the big screen translates into optimization on the small screen. With Leadwerks 2 we were weak on the tools and we knew we had to make a really good editor that was really efficient to use, so that’s our foundation that we’re building now with Leadwerks 3.

Are you abandoning the PC segment altogether?

On the contrary, I’m looking forward to getting back into high-end graphics on PC, but right now our focus is on professional studios that want to expand into mobile. You can add good graphics to a game engine that has a good editor, good tools and a good art pipeline, but you can’t do the reverse. You can’t start with a really advanced renderer and then add tools that make it easier. We had to totally rethink everything and redesign it based on the lessons learned.

Leadwerks founder CEO Josh Klint - mobile game development platform provider

Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks, believes that within a year gamers will be playing mobile games that look like "Doom 3" on such mobile devices as iPad and Android tablets.

Leadwerks 2 did not run on Intel integrated graphics. Leadwerks 3 runs perfectly on Intel integrated graphics. Intel has done a really good job with their openGL drivers over the recent years. In fact, the first time we ran Leadwerks 3 on Intel integrated graphics it worked perfectly the first time, meaning that they did a good job on the drivers. We shouldn’t have to do any testing, theoretically. It should just work. That’s not the case with Nvidia or ATI.

The next step is to push mobile graphics quite a lot further than they’ve been to-date. I’d say we’re about one or two iterations of the iPad away from being able to do a full-deferred rendering in a game. I think within 12 months we can be playing something that looks like “Doom 3″ on the iPad or the equivalent, like Android tablets.

One thing that Intel is doing in mobile that’s pretty interesting is they’re coming out with x86-based Android tablets, so they’re leveraging the power of Intel integrated graphics with the mobility of Android. I think the power that brings to gaming could really drive some high-powered gaming devices.

Will PC, Console and Mobile Games Converge?

Developers can use Leadwerks latest engine to create mobile games with Triple-A graphics.

Josh Klint founder CEO Leadwerks mobile game development platform provider

Josh Klint, Leadwerks founder and CEO, describes the company's recently launched Leadwerks 3 game engine as a new approach to mobile game development.

As the continuing evolution of tablets and smartphones has made more immersive mobile games possible, the once-yawning chasm between PC and mobile gaming has narrowed. One company is hoping to close that gap entirely and set the stage for a future where console, PC and mobile games all provide gamers with a triple-A experience.

The mobile gaming market is growing quickly; it’s expected to reach $86.1 billion by 2016, according to report from NewZoo, a market research firm. Leadwerks Software is hoping to capture part of the market with its recently launched Leadwerks 3 development platform. Competing with larger players such as Unity and Havok, the small Las Vegas-based company hopes that its C++-based development engine for building mobile games for PC/Mac, iOS and Android will open a door to mobile for many software developers.

“Most of the professional developers are stuck in the console world right now and they don’t really venture out of that,” said Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks. “What I discovered is in terms of per unit processing horsepower, mobile graphics are much more capable than PC and console graphics.”

During a recent visit to Hacker Lab in Sacramento, Klint sat down to discuss the aggressive development cycle for mobile, touchscreens on PCs and how soon console, PC and mobile games will converge.

What does the future look like for mobile games on tablets and smartphones?

There’s the world of games that you play on consoles from triple-A studios and then there’s the world of mobile, and until now they have been really separate. I think the hardware capabilities of mobile are getting to the point where those two worlds can merge. Mobile doesn’t have to be off on its own, and it’s about to merge with the conventional game industry. In the near future, within 2 years, certainly, when the next “Call of Duty” or whatever comes out it will be available on the next Xbox, PlayStation 4, the PC and whatever iPad and Android tablets are available at the time. We’re not very far from being able to put triple-A graphics on mobile.

What is Leadwerks’ role in that mobile gaming future?

We built a game engine on pure C++, which is what the game industry uses, and we built it because we know there will be a lot of professional studios that will soon move over to mobile. We built the Leadwerks 3 game engine expressly for the purpose of meeting their needs. It will scale extremely well because we built it on pure native code, which is C++. We can enable them to build triple-A games on mobile. Until recently, mobile has been kind of like its own little thing, using it for simple games, but we’re getting to the point where you can actually play immersive games with great graphics on mobile. That’s what we see happening. That’s how we are positioning our company.

Josh Klint CEO mobile game development platform provider Leadwerks

"The next step is to push mobile graphics quite a lot further than they've been to-date," said Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks.

Mobile games make use of touch, but do you see touchscreens becoming part of the PC gaming experience?

I think for mobile touch is here to stay. I would like to say the same for PC, but I don’t think it’s true. The extent that touch makes sense on a PC is a trackpad. I think Windows 8 was a colossal mistake that anybody could have seen a mile away. I’m actually more excited about the future of Linux than I am about Windows. Linux is something that has been in the back of my mind and when you see companies like Valve leading the way with support for Steam on Linux we think there’s a big potential there for games and game development tools. We have started building Leadwerks for Ubuntu. Because Leadwerks is written in pure C++ it’s relatively easy for us to get it running on Linux. We think there’s a good future there.

What’s the biggest difference in developing mobile games for tablets and smartphones compared to developing them for the PC?

Mobile moves fast. The development cycles are faster, the hardware is fast. In the console world we get a new generation about every 7 years. PCs, like, every year and a half, maybe, 2 years. In mobile we get a new generation every 6 months. This means at any given point in time the average wait time for the next generation of mobile hardware is just 90 days. When companies expand into mobile they need to get in fast. What we provide is an accelerated path into mobile so they don’t have to deal with all the details that we already figured out. We make it easy for them to transfer all their existing code assets into mobile because everything we do is based on pure C++. All these game studios have legacy code that’s all their IP. For example, if they were to go with Unity or something like that they would have to throw all that code away and transfer all their IP over to C sharp, which really isn’t a language commonly used in the game industry.

We pushed high-end graphics on PC as far as we could (with Leadwerks 2) and that had been our specialty. So we took all that knowledge and found out that a lot of that translated over to mobile. In other words, optimization on the big screen translates into optimization on the small screen. With Leadwerks 2 we were weak on the tools and we knew we had to make a really good editor that was really efficient to use, so that’s our foundation that we’re building now with Leadwerks 3.

Are you abandoning the PC segment altogether?

On the contrary, I’m looking forward to getting back into high-end graphics on PC, but right now our focus is on professional studios that want to expand into mobile. You can add good graphics to a game engine that has a good editor, good tools and a good art pipeline, but you can’t do the reverse. You can’t start with a really advanced renderer and then add tools that make it easier. We had to totally rethink everything and redesign it based on the lessons learned.

Leadwerks founder CEO Josh Klint - mobile game development platform provider

Josh Klint, founder and CEO of Leadwerks, believes that within a year gamers will be playing mobile games that look like "Doom 3" on such mobile devices as iPad and Android tablets.

Leadwerks 2 did not run on Intel integrated graphics. Leadwerks 3 runs perfectly on Intel integrated graphics. Intel has done a really good job with their openGL drivers over the recent years. In fact, the first time we ran Leadwerks 3 on Intel integrated graphics it worked perfectly the first time, meaning that they did a good job on the drivers. We shouldn’t have to do any testing, theoretically. It should just work. That’s not the case with Nvidia or ATI.

The next step is to push mobile graphics quite a lot further than they’ve been to-date. I’d say we’re about one or two iterations of the iPad away from being able to do a full-deferred rendering in a game. I think within 12 months we can be playing something that looks like “Doom 3″ on the iPad or the equivalent, like Android tablets.

One thing that Intel is doing in mobile that’s pretty interesting is they’re coming out with x86-based Android tablets, so they’re leveraging the power of Intel integrated graphics with the mobility of Android. I think the power that brings to gaming could really drive some high-powered gaming devices.