Guitar Hero III Mobile strikes it big at BREW Developer Awards

By Dan O'Shea

Befitting a collegial atmosphere replete with pool tables, foosball tables and vendor booths with microbrew taps, the BREW Developer Awards last night was a noisy affair at which an explosively popular video game brand added another notch to its guitar.

Guitar Hero III Mobile won Best Game Application and People's Choice Award. The game also would have won the award for loudest cheering section, had there been such an award. Over the happy hour chatter, it was difficult to hear Mitch Oliver, vice president of product management for Qualcomm Internet Services Mobile, and Kathy Braegger, senior product manager and head of developer relations, list some of the nominees, but it was never louder than the applause that erupted each time they mentioned Guitar Hero III Mobile, developed by MachineWorks Northwest for Hands-On Mobile.

The latest entry in the Guitar Hero series was released commercially by Verizon Wireless last December, and became an instant hit. Much of that awareness may be due to the brand itself, but MachineWorks still had to make sure the game could make a successful jump from the family room to the mobile phone. "We still had to make a design that translated well from the console to the handheld," said Andreas Vasen, general manager of MachineWorks Northwest, after accepting both awards. "We went to great lengths to get the sound exactly right."

Other award winners included:

Best Up and Coming Application: mSpot Make UR Tones, mSpot Inc.

Best Public or Private Sector Business Application: Farmer Friend, Sichuan Greatwall Software Technology Co. Ltd. of China

Best Location-Based Service Application: Where, uLocate Communications

Best Community/Social networking Application: Loopt, Loopt

Best Personalization or Infotainment Application: GameDay Plus GameDay Audio, MLB Advanced Media

Kevin Mahoney, project manager, mobile for MLB Advanced Media, credited developer Gravity Mobile for its win, and said the content his team had to work with was the key. "Baseball fans really enjoy their content, and it's a natural for a mobile platform," he said. "Gravity Mobile did a great job for us."

John Wilson, director of uLocate Communications, an LBS development environment, said the win for Where in the LBS category comes at a time when LBS applications have turned a corner in consumer adoption, and put initially slow acceptance in the past. "We solved the adoption problem by going free to consumers," Wilson said. "In the next six to nine months, you will see more ad-supported revenue models for LBS applications."

He also said that uLocate's win at the BREW Developer Awards is a reflection of the developers that have been building applications based on its LBS development environment. "We've had the benefit of a very strong developer community, with over 1000 developers," he said. "The applications that underpin our success were written by other people, and the kudos really goes to them."