At first, Windows Gamers are going to be extremely happy with Microsoft’s tablet launch. Their excitement will stem from the belief that their games are going to work on Windows 8 Tablets. After all, it’s basic and justified logic, “You know… if the games run on Windows they will also run on a Windows 8 Tablet because it’s the same OS, right?” Like a hungry gold digger discovering his lute is actually fool’s gold, these gamers excitement will quickly wane upon realization this is only partially true. Sure, these games will run on Windows 8 Tablets, but since they were designed to be played with a mouse and a keyboard and not for a touchpad tablet experience – this means users will not be able to go beyond the login screen or play the game. It will be a rude awakening for anyone whose hopes were to take advantage of Windows tablets for serious gaming.
As folks who both love games, play games and enable better gaming experiences, the Overwolf Team felt this is was a serious problem that must be solved. Just before having started development, I received a request from Intel to develop and display that exact ability in the largest and most prestigious gaming conference – GDC 2012. Our team felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to enable great existing games, currently not optimized for tablet, to be translated to the Windows 8 Tablet – and we immediately started development.
Overwolf’s technology was developed under the lead of my business partner, Nir Finkelstein. As Overwolf’s CTO, Nir and the team created an embeddable, rich layer of functionality in games without having to touch or alter the games’ source code – a huge upside for any developer to get access to a new platform without having to spend additional development resources to do so. Prior to this project, our tech team was mainly focused on adding social features such as communication and content creation for social networks, and as a result, positioned Overwolf as the leading market solution from a tech and UX standpoint. Nir kept pushing forward, and I’d hear him in the office pushing ahead, he’d say, “this challenge is a great fit with our current infrastructure. Guys, we can solve this problem and do it quickly”. What resulted was our ability to deliver a live demo for two different game genres in less than a month. I was extremely proud of our achievements, but what dawned upon me clearly, was that we achieved this great milestone due to our robust technology we had developed for more than two years. Without it the execution would have taken a lot longer.
As soon as the team had a working prototype, Overwolf’s Product Manager Alon Rabinovitz started running focus groups to fine-tune the experience. At first it was done with our internal group of employees, and later, moved to serious hard core gamers… the type of gamers for whom gaming is more important than almost anything. I recall a conversation with Alon saying, “These gamers have a ton of brilliant ideas, so we can quickly develop to their requests and iterate one version after the other to find what is most optimal”. As you can imagine, the feedback we received was directly given from people who would utilize the final product, but more importantly, could continue using it as we evolved it to meet their needs. As a result, the product Overwolf showcased at GDC 2012 was extremely well received. This also led to high interest from various Game Industry players who are interested in Overwolf creating new products and services.
It looks like the 300 million gamers are going to be
frustrated [very] happy when Windows 8 Tablets at launch, utilizing Overwolf’s solution to play their games on their tablet. After all, how else would you run World of Warcraft on a Windows 8 Tablet…? And if you’re a gamer, you can now enjoy such an immersive game experience on your Windows 8 Tablet and let your mom continue playing Angry Birds on her tablet.