Robert Tercek probably wouldn't thank us for calling him a grand old man of the mobile games industry, but it's a fact that he's been one of its prime movers – originally while working for Hands-On Mobile in the days when it was called Mforma, and more recently in his role as co-founder of the GDC Mobile conference.
He knows his shizzle, in other words. Better still, he's not working directly in the mobile game industry any more, so is free to say what he thinks about how it works (or doesn't). And he certainly did that this morning at GDC Mobile, while introducing Nokia's keynote.
For example, he slammed the "lie" of the mobile operators: "It's a lie that says a game can run equally well on any handset, and says that a Top 10 that never changes is providing its consumers with a genuine choice."
Tercek also responded to Gameloft boss Michel Guillemot's keynote speech from the day before, pointing out that while big publishers like Gameloft complain about the operator demands that games run on 200+ handsets, they help keep that system in place by acceding to those demands.
He even described the business model as "insane": "This is an economy that's based on fiction. I'm starting to see some change and innovation around the edges of our industry, but I don't expect it to come from the big publishers. They're tied up in this economy with the operators. It'll come from small developers."
Tercek didn't stop there, going on to deflate some of the hot air surrounding the iPhone's potential for mobile games. Several speakers at the conference have suggested the iPhone could be a big deal for games developers when Apple starts selling games through iTunes, but Tercek pointed out that selling through iTunes could be just as restrictive as selling through operators.
"I'm personally a sceptic about the iPhone," he said. "Talk to anyone in the music industry. If we switch across to the iTunes model, we might be going from the frying pan to the fire. iTunes is the ultimate storefront with control over pricing and selection of content. Be careful what you wish for."
Finally, Tercek held out the promise of better times for mobile game developers in the future. "What kinds of games would you make if you had the freedom to decide what kind of experiences to deliver?" he asked.
"Would you support 200 handsets, or only the ones that you know would perform, and where purchases would happen? Which brands, if any, would be licensed by publishers if we didn't need to scramble for deck space and placement from operators?"
Something to chew on, to say the least.