Panayoti Haritatos, project head for Kongregate's new Mobile Developers Program, believes the mobile industry is still growing, but lack of a dedicated publisher focused on bringing visibility to independently developed titles could hold it back.
"There's an entire group of indie developers out there right now who are trying to break into mobile, but for whatever reason, publishers aren't willing to work with them," Haritatos told Polygon. "There is a real need for a publisher in the mobile space who is indie developer-friendly and willing to work with them to bring their titles to market."
This morning, GameStop announced the Kongregate Mobile Developers Program, which offers funds, consultation and marketing assistance to indie developers struggling for visibility. Haritatos, former Zynga general manager and recently-appointed vice president of Kongregate's mobile division, will oversee the program alongside Kongregate co-founders Jim and Emily Greer.
"There's a need from our players, too," added Emily Greer. "Even though you can't play Kongregate games on a mobile device, we have a significant amount of players looking for mobile games. We want to be able to provide that service in the mobile arena."
The trio notes that the idea for the Mobile Developers Program has been brewing for some time. The Greers spoke with Haritatos during his time at indie studio Urbansquall and realized they had similar thoughts on the matter.
"If you look at the mobile market in the middle of last year, it shows a vacuum of indie developers making high-quality games, but because they didn't have super-deep pockets they couldn't give games the visibility they deserve," said Haritatos. "Discoverability is the biggest issue in the marketplace."
"We're getting in bed with developers rather than signing them all up and see what sticks."
"We want to provide something no other publisher can provide the same in terms of mobile reach to the hardcore gamers," he added.
Kongregate has promised assistance to "qualified games," which will be determined on an as-needed basis. The company is looking for free-to-play titles that target core consumers and indie developers looking to create quality standalone titles. The program's objective is to go as far along as possible with each game, to "go as deep as [the program] can" and give all titles the attention they need.
"It comes down to quality," explained Haritatos. "We want games that want to be the best of that type of game. We don't anticipate shipping more than one or two titles each month under the program."
"We're getting in bed with developers rather than signing them all up and see what sticks," explained Jim Greer. "Hopefully that relationship will make the game more successful overall. And we want developers to go and tell their friends that we are good people to work with."
Haritatos shared that feedback from this morning's announcement has been positive, and that the excited response from indie developers has reaffirmed how important the existence of programs like Kongregate's are.
"The mobile market is very early in its growth still," Haritatos said. "2013 will be even more of a growth year than 2012, which was a huge year for mobile. Everything is getting bigger, better, making more money, engaging more users and maturing."
"We want to help," said Jim Greer. "We think we can provide quality help."