Console gamers are now used to experiencing their game worlds in surround sound, whether they’re playing Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed® IV: Black Flag, Tomb Raider, or one of many other games that support Dolby® Digital audio. The challenge for app developers is to build quality audio into mobile games, according to Spencer Hooks, senior manager of the games business at Dolby.

Clearly, the way people play mobile games is different than the way they use consoles—they play more casually during other activities, such as waiting in line at the market. But Hooks told an audience of app developers at the App Developers Conference last month that creators of mobile games can use audio to “make an experience that’s much bigger than that small portable device” in the gamer’s hands.

With mobile games, said Hooks, developers are often “trying to get you to play that game for a long time. They’ve used audio as a tool to give you that positive feedback to make you want to keep playing the game.”

Dolby, which has been in the games market since it brought surround sound to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System® in 1994, has recently made it easier for app developers to build great audio into their creations. The Dolby® Audio API, available from developer.dolby.com, allows for Amazon® Kindle Fire™ games to be developed with enhanced Dolby sound using either Java® or the Unity™ framework. Support for platforms beyond the Kindle Fire is in the works.

Mobile games Lux Ahoy! and Hunger Games Adventure already take advantage of the new API, using Dolby Digital Plus™; more game apps are on the way.

“I would encourage you to use sound as a tool,” Hooks told the developers, “an arrow in your quiver, when you’re looking at ‘How do I create a user experience that really keeps the player or the user coming back for more?’”

If you missed the panel discussion with representatives from Ericsson, Samsung, Intel, Bottle Rocket, and Dolby at the App Developers Conference last month, you can watch the video of How Does Your App Look, Sound, and Feel?, and access more slide decks, video, or audio recordings of other presentations, on the ADC Vault site.

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