Geek Speak: Hong-Yee Wong, CEO of IUGO Mobile Entertainment
Hong-Yee Wong runs an independent, Vancouver-based studio whose staff of 20 has developed and released 10 original games for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Born in Singapore, the 43-year-old Port Moody resident founded IUGO Mobile Entertainment in 2003 and serves as its chief executive officer.
IUGO started out making mobile games for publishers like Electronic Arts, including Boom Blox and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. But when Apple introduced its App Store last year, the studio switched to developing and publishing its own games for the iPhone.
Zombie Attack! is IUGO’s best-selling iPhone game, and the studio’s latest release is Toy Bot Mini Missions. There’s more on the way. This month, IUGO plans to submit three new games to the App Store.
The Georgia Straight reached Wong by phone at IUGO’s office in Yaletown.
How do you describe the kind of games you make at IUGO?
We want to make a variety of games. We don’t want to be known as a company that does one specific kind of game. So, if you look at our iPhone mix right now, we’ve done platformers, we’ve done a pinball game, we’ve done a tower-defence game, we’ve done turn-based strategy games. So, it’s hard to give one category or type of games that we do. But they range from casual to quite hardcore, and I guess one guiding principle would be it’s all very, very highly polished and high quality, regardless of how big or small games are.
What are the three games you’re going to be submitting to the App Store this month?
This month, we’ll be submitting a game called Cliffed. It’s a multiplayer up-down scroller. We’re submitting Zombie Attack!: Second Wave, which is a tower-defence game with our own twist to it. And we’re submitting a third game called Implode, which is a casual game based on trying to demolish a building.
How will the emergence of mobile platforms that might rival the iPhone affect your company?
It can only be good for us, I think. We’ve been doing mobile games since 2003. We’re very comfortable with all different mobile platforms, and right now it seems like iPhone is gaining a lot of attention and a lot of users out there getting content and downloading games. So, we’re doing a lot of iPhone development.
We always have an eye out for all other platforms. In fact, this month as well, we will have Cliffed—which is the game I mentioned before for the iPhone—we’re building that for the BlackBerry as well. It will be probably one of the first games that you can play multiplayer between different platforms—between the iPhone and BlackBerry.
Beyond that, we’re also starting development on the PSP. So, with the digital downloads and the PSP Minis, we are moving some of our original IPs onto that as well.
What’s the first IUGO game we can expect to see hit the PSP?
It’s going to be a special version of Zombie Attack!
What do you think an Apple tablet computer would do for gaming?
I’m not too sure if gamers would use that form factor specifically for gaming. I think it would be a secondary function for that device. Knowing Apple, I’m sure they would make it so that it’s easy for developers to build applications on, and when it comes out we’ll probably create games for it as well.
What are your favourite games to play?
I tend to play more casual games now. I really like puzzle games. I like tower-defence games. I play them on the PC, as well as on the iPhone.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.