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Microsoft case study: Throwback Entertainment

Microsoft case study: Throwback Entertainment 

Using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, Throwback created Deflector, a new game where players race to protect the Earth from an onslaught of attacks from aliens and natural phenomena.

In an exclusive interview with IT in Canada, Robert Maduri, president of Throwback Entertainment, discusses the development of Deflector, why the company opted for Microsoft Azure, and what the platform allowed them to accomplish.

IT in Canada: What led to the development of Deflector?
Maduri: There were quite a few things in place. Back in 2012, we had decided to take a step backwards and (make) a full investment into feature technologies. What we did was we took a game that was previously published by Acclaim and we started the re-mastering process. While that was taking place, we were afraid that a lot of the developers who were working on this project would actually get burnt out due to the immense level of code and various issues that were coming up. We wanted to liven things up a bit and have a second title that would go into development. It would act as a fun distraction and change of pace, but also create something that had unique ties into the Microsoft ecosystem.

ITIC: With many products available on the market today, why did Throwback choose Microsoft Azure over others?
RM: We originally used another provider’s platform and, because Deflector is built on the Unity game engine, the way we had designed not only a game that would work on the (lower-end) side, but also on the higher end. We needed something that would bridge that gap; something that would allow a person with a $100 prepaid phone to experience something that the high-end customers would come to expect. A lot of the assets inside Deflector are actually up to 4K resolution, but due to the way it was architected through the Windows Phone operating system, it also ties into Azure. We were able to accomplish all of that and also do it at a fraction of the price of what we were paying during development.

ITIC: How did Microsoft Azure aid with the development of Deflector?
RM: It helped quite a bit. We came in at about a third of the cost and we built the first model using out-of-the-box Azure services. We were able to reduce the overhead on the full-time incidents, but then build in that first model so that the service scales depending on what the consumer demand was. Because we had built-in support for the low-end handsets, we’re seeing a lot of traffic in emerging markets and in areas that we typically wouldn’t have expected. This allows the cloud services to scale seamlessly and helps everyone sleep at night because we’re not worried about problems with it.

ITIC: Why did Throwback opt to release Deflector on the Windows Phone platform?
RM: We chose Windows Phone because we wanted that seamless Microsoft ecosystem where you purchase once but play on all. The game is free, and it has a simple in-app purchasing system for coins. By just supporting the ecosystem, we’re able to keep what we had wanted. It didn’t matter what the form factor was, whether it was convertibles, two-in-ones, or all-in-ones. We want people to play it no matter where they are.

ITIC: Would you recommend Microsoft Azure to others within the industry?
RM: Absolutely. I’m involved in a couple of tech start-ups in advisory roles and in one of them we have actually signed up for the BizSpark program. That service will be released through Windows Phone, which ties into the Azure cloud system.

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