10 Burning Questions with Marios Karagiannis, Developer of MonsterUp

Welcome to another edition of 10 Burning Questions! Today we’re speaking with Marios Karagiannis, the developer of MonsterUp. The game is one of the most popular jump-genre games available on the Marketplace and Marios tells us a little bit about the development process and what we can expect from him in the future.

1. How did you get started with Windows Phone?

Windows Phone game development was for me a very nice opportunity to get my games out there for people to play. I started before the Windows Phone platform was officially released, using a Zune HD as my test device, and was fascinated by the development tools and the XNA framework for games. Microsoft was also very helpful for attracting development to the new platform.

2. What phone do you personally use?

I use a Nokia Lumia 800.

3. What was your biggest challenge in developing MonsterUp for Windows Phones?

The Windows Phone platform is most likely the easiest platform someone can develop games for, from design to implementation. That being said, the process of making your game a reality does not really have any challenges. The challenges come afterwards, because designing and developing a game is only the first step. Supporting,marketing and monetizing the game is the biggest part.

I would say that the biggest challenge to windows phone game developers is Microsoft’s decision to use the Xbox live brand to only a selected few titles. The Xbox live portfolio is managed and there is no clear set of rules for someone to have their game published in this portfolio. That by itself may not have been a big challenge, but the Xbox live titles are always getting preferential treatment in the Marketplace, both on the Phone and on the website, since they are the default category. This gives a clear disadvantage to non-xbox live games.

4. Do you have any ideas for any more games on the way that you’d care to share with us?

I have a few more games in development, waiting in the queue to be further developed, polished and released but I can’t say much about them. Rest assured though that I am always working on crazy and fun ideas for new games. One thing I can say is that the MonsterUp franchise will be released on another platform soon, and this platform will be Windows 8, as a Metro style game.

5. Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Thankfully monetization and profit was not my main goal when I started developing for Windows Phone. It’s not that revenue is not important, but rather that I already knew that I was choosing the clear underdog, who would take years to get a real piece of the pie, if ever. Windows Phone is starting to look promising just now, with Nokia in the game, but until now the revenue has been somewhat disappointing, even having a game like MonsterUp, which is constantly in the top 10 of many countries and is being featured all over the place frequently.

I’ve published games using pay to own and ads-based both. For the largest part of my games’ life, Microsoft Pubcenter (Microsoft’s advertising platform) was not even available for developers at the country that I live (Switzerland) so I did try the alternatives. Overall, I think there is potential for Windows Phone, and we will see very nice things in 2012, including Windows Phone Apollo which in my opinion will be a game changer.

6. What do you want to see in Windows Phone 8?

The most important thing in my opinion is not really a feature of Apollo, but rather a technical decision, that of making the new platform available at least to 2nd generation Windows Phone handsets. One of the biggest strengths of Windows Phone is the lack of fragmentation and I would really love it if it stayed that way.

On a feature-wise front I would like to see many more APIs being available to developers, as well as relaxation of limitations which are not technical ones, but have been decided for business strategy reasons. Windows Phone 8 is where Microsoft has to surpass the competitors in features and outshine them in innovation.

7. Do you develop for other ecosystems and how does Windows Phone development compare to those?

No, I don’t.

8. If you could give one tip to fellow Windows Phone developers, what would it be?

I mostly make games, so I would focus my tips to fellow Windows Phone game developers. The main thing is to make games that are fun. Take advantage of the lack of fragmentation, have good ideas and listen to your user base. Don’t make a game just to make a game, make games that you play yourself and most of all, enjoy the unique things the platform has to offer.

9. Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

I made my first game on an 8bit Atari 65XE when I was 9. Not very good graphics, but the playability was awesome. :)

10. Tell us your favorite Olympic sport!

I would say weight lifting. It combines strength, strategy and sheer will power in a unique way.