Games you can Xerox

March 30, 2011: 12:39 PM ET

Gameloft, a French mobile games company, had its best year yet. But something about its success feels familiar.

By Chadwick Matlin, contributor

Imagine you've finally published that novel you've been working on for the past few years. It's one of those sci-fi epics, where there's an alien invasion to be overturned, a stoic soldier to defeat it, and maybe a cool gun or two to use in the process. And now that it's published, congratulations! The book is a huge success -- millions of people bought it, there's a rabid and devoted following, and the publisher is already forcing you to bang out several sequels.

But for various reasons the publisher has been slow to adapt your book for mobile readers. And while you've been absent, others have flourished. One publisher with a far better understanding of how people read on their phones, has created their own book with a faceless lead, a grunting alien swarm, and the requisite violence. But the book is shorter, less complex, and less expensive than yours, customized for an audience that isn't sitting down with it for an hour at a time.

You're not the only author to whom this has happen. Dozens of other successful writers whose publishers didn't adapt books for mobile phones have seen their general narratives transferred over. A historical Greek epic, a gritty Iraq war narrative, and a futuristic parable about racism -- this other company has appropriated all of them. And it's made hundreds of millions doing it. More

Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.