Dumbo's Freeverse on Top of the App World

Apps, software downloads for mobile devices, are getting a lot of attention from consumers who own Blackberries, iPhones, and Google’s new Nexus One. The number and quality of apps differentiate the smartphone platform and is growing. Apple announced last week that Apple’s App Store downloads top three billion and that 200 million apps are being downloaded monthly, generating more than $500 million in revenues (of which 30% goes to Apple and 70% to developers), each month. That’s a lot of apps, and Dumbo has several tech companies in the middle of it all. One company, Freeverse, is among the top, on Main Street in Dumbo. Freeverse currently has the #1 paid app in the Apple app store with their award winning Skee-Ball and has two of the top 10 paid iPhone apps of all time.

We talked to Colin Lynch Smith, Vice President, about Freeverse and their culture.

Congrats on having 2 of the top 10 paid iPhone apps of all time. How do you come up with ideas for the games and apps?
Thanks! – We come up with lots of ideas internally, some of them are crazy and never see the light of day, though a few of the crazy ones slip by too – (have you seen the World’s Most Over-Produced iPhone Hangman game with stop-motion animation and fully modeled water drip technology?

We’re also open to ideas from outside developers. Ideas are rarely the bottleneck in game development though, its all the engineering, art and other stuff that takes most of the time and skill.

As established as Freeverse is with iPhone apps, how challenging is it to come up with bigger hits?
Well, we’ve had #1 Paid titles in 2008, 2009, and Skee-Ball is currently on the top of the charts in 2010. Hard to improve on that for sure. But we’d love to be able get the $.99 price-point up a little higher. I think that’s where we have room to grow. We’re always thinking about ways of creating an experience where the player can get a lot of extra value for just a little extra money.

How big is the company? Are you expanding staff?
There are about 20 of us here in Dumbo with a few others scattered around the globe. We’ve started a sister company, Small Planet Digital, (and just knocked a hole in the wall to expand the office). Small Planet handles the services side of the business making branded games and apps for clients. Small Planet is hiring, and especially looking for folks with iPhone experience. [Ed: Small Planet Digital is hiring.]

How would you describe the culture at Freeverse?
We have the classics… a Star Trek pinball machine, a fridge stocked with caffeinated beverages, and nerf guns lying around. I think they might actually revoke your membership in the Game Developers Association if you don’t have those things. The office tends to be on the quiet side since we mostly communicate over iChat, even when we’re sitting right next to the person. Creepy, I know.

Half the office has their headphones on listening to polka music, (I like to imagine), at any given moment. Office Pizza on Fridays is awesome but has limited my trips to the Schnitzel Truck, so one of those has to change days in 2010! We work hard, we try not to crunch, we’re proud of our stuff.

Now that you’ve been in Dumbo since Mar 2008, what do you like/dislike about being in the area?
Dumbo is great. I’m still shocked at what a fabulous mash-up of bridges/skyline/cobblestone/train-thunder it packs into a relatively small space. You can see why the movies film here… the set design work is already done. A few more lunch options, maybe less wind off the river when the temperature is below freezing? I don’t have much negative to say about Dumbo, we feel very lucky to have landed here.

We’re also glad to see Freeverse in Dumbo, known for its digital media companies. Freeverse is located in 45 Main Street. Read more about them at freeverse.com/about/ or follow them on Twitter @freeverse.

See Freeverse in a recent NY Times article.

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