What book publishers can learn from gaming.

Jay Franco, Producer of Gameloft's iPad app 'War In The Pacific' gives us his views on where the opportunities lie for publishing and gaming coming together: We collectively felt a real exciting opportunity in creating interactive books for the iPad, and we’ve put our attention there. Gameloft has proven its know-how in creating successful game apps, so we were excited to break new ground on the book-app side. Also, most iPad book-apps are currently for children; I believe we can do great interactive books for adults too.

I recalled the Carlton line of memorabilia-filled oversized books from my experience as an editor for the Military History Book Club. I thought, “If we could get the rights to this, it would be a unique experience on the iPad.” The layout of the pages with bits of text, illustrations, photographs and maps already set the tone for an intricate design. The added memorabilia - with maps, booklets, letters, etc. - I thought would be perfect to recreate as digital additional content that could be opened, read and viewed within an application.

And, of course, “War in the Pacific” is a brilliant book on a hot topic: the Pacific War, whose importance was sometimes under-valued when looking at WWII, although it was critically important for the eventual Allied victory.

I think book publishers can benefit from the gaming world, as developers are more likely to take risks to try something new and inventive to see if it works in order to propel the industry forwards.

At Gameloft we’ve spent a great deal of time learning, analysing and implementing a high level of interactivity and entertainment into our games (10 years to be precise!), and we foster a similar approach to how we developed this book-app. On one hand we wanted to take our video games experience and try something new within books, but on the other hand we didn’t want to alienate the traditional book market by doing something too far out there, or too game focused. For that reason we didn’t add any mini-games or gameplay features, instead we opted to create a polished experience with interactive elements, which is accessible to everyone yet still resonates well with traditional book lovers.

I think book publishers could perhaps be a little more experimental, especially with digital products – but at the same time, don’t rush into something entirely new without building up a repertoire of experience first – take time and introduce new & fun things slowly, that way you’re taking your readers along for the ride with you instead of making them suddenly feel like everything has changed. Digital platforms provide a wealth of creative options and at Gameloft we feel like readers are open to trying them – especially with existing books which already have a visually attractive element.

I do feel that content remains king, but embracing new digital platforms will put book publishers in a better position as things continue to change. Digital distribution offers many obvious advantages: you can reach a much bigger audience, set your book at a much lower price than in retail, add a lot of interactive content like videos and 3D items, etc. The iPad with its large colour screen and seamless touch control seems a natural choice currently, although we’re seeing new devices all the time. 

War in the Pacific iPad app has been reviewed on The Literary Platform, here.

You can buy it for $4.99, here.






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