Spicy Horse banking on 3D as next step in online casual gaming

By Brenna Hillier, Friday, 6 May 2011 04:54 GMT

When it’s not making Alice: Madness Returns, American McGee has said his Shanghai-based studio Spicy Horse is poised to capitalise on one of the largest markets in gaming today – in its own way.

“China’s probably the biggest online gaming market in the world,” the designer told IGN.

“I mean, you have 500, 600 million people subscribed to online games and games where you have 100 million people signed up to a single game, and tens of millions of simultaneous users.”

McGee said some companies in China are making “billions of dollars per quarter” and are practically invisible to the mainstream Western games industry.

“It’s an incredible time to be out there,” he said, explaining that Spicy Horse has its own, unique contribution to make.

“Everything we’re going to do will be 3D – that’s where we see our niche,” he said.

“There’s already a lot of 2D online casual stuff, but we think there’s now room for 3D presentation of some pretty classic gameplay mechanics. …Not big MMO stuff; tight experiences where there’s session-based play and it might last 15 minutes and the initial release might only be after 6 months of development.

“So if you could imagine the iPhone/iPad model for app development, which is fairly rapid – but then adding to that constant development of new content and adding a microtransaction model to that – that’s the space we want to be in.”

McGee mentioned Zynga as an example of an “empire” founded on the 2D online space.

“But if you were to ask Zynga today what’s coming next, they actually know: 3D is the next step,” he predicted.

“But they’re not doing it yet. So where we want to position ourselves is that we’re taking those types of gameplay models and that type of monetization model and making it into really high quality 3D.”

Spicy Horse’s most recent game is Alice: Madness Returns, follow up to the 2000 classic American McGee’s Alice. It’s due on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on June 14 in the US and June 16 in Europe.

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