Calgary’s Blister Entertainment Inc. is making a name for itself south of the border as a top-tier provider of innovative mobile games, but that wouldn’t have been possible without homegrown support. In August, the developer launched its two flagship offerings, Swordfish and Torpedo Bay, on the pre-paid Boost Mobile service operated by then-newly merged Sprint Nextel Inc. More recently, the Canadian firm announced the deal will be expanded to make both games available on Nextel’s nationwide post-paid network, which has yet to be integrated with Sprint’s existing network. "There are totally two different audiences" for each network the games are featured on, says Stephen Nykolyn, VP of marketing for Blister as well as parent company KnowledgeWhere Corp. "With Boost, it’s a young, urban, typically male demographic...probably between the ages of 18 and 24. Nextel...tend to be more of an enterprise network, so you’re getting more businesspeople, men and women...looking to kill a little bit of time when they travel." The games are also priced differently on each network: Sprint Nextel charges US$4.99 a month for a subscription to each game, while each subscription costs US$5.99 for the first month and US$2.99 for subsequent months on Boost Mobile. Both games employ a mix of cutting-edge technologies, including Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation and artificial intelligence, to allow users to either catch schools of virtual fish or attack enemy boats. Signings in the U.S. notwithstanding, the first wireless carrier to feature Blister’s games was Bell Mobility, a relationship that’s been in place for more than a year now. "We...salute them because they took a chance on being first with this in North America," Nykolyn says. "We launched Swordfish on the Bell Mobility network in July 2004, and we’re just preparing to release Torpedo Bay on Bell as well." He also credits that partnership with Bell Mobility as a big factor behind Blister’s win of a Canadian New Media Award this summer for excellence in gaming, as well as an innovative entertainment technology award garnered by KnowledgeWhere at September’s 3G CDMA awards. Both of Blister’s games are powered by KnowledgeWhere’s Location Application Platform (LAP), a server-based technology that Nykolyn says seamlessly integrates with a carrier’s system to make game features like GPS and location-based SMS possible, as well as more mundane necessities such as user authentication and data encryption. "The platform is able to send out virtual items into the real world, it’s able to link multiple players and carriers together at the same time – it’s all done through our servers, essentially, which are based in Calgary," he says. Nykolyn hopes success with Swordfish and Torpedo Bay will encourage other mobile game designers to adopt LAP as the foundation of their products and make it an industry standard, a development that would mean more incremental revenue for Blister. It’s an approach Microsoft Corp. took during the launch of its Xbox gaming console, he says: "They developed the first handful of games themselves, just to prove the credibility and capability of their platform, and then basically opened that up to other publishers and developers to build." Nykolyn says the firm is also working on approximately 15 more games, which are in various stages of development, as well as more deals with carriers down south. "We have a lot of interest from our existing carrier customers and a number of other ones in the U.S. market right now that want product," he says.