Interview

PG Connects Speaker Spotlight: Corey King, ZenFri Inc

PG Connects Speaker Spotlight: Corey King, ZenFri Inc

Having rocked London at the start of 2014, Pocket Gamer Connects will be making its grand return on the 16-17 June, with the fun set to resume in Helsinki's glorious Wanha Satama venue.

Naturally, you’ll be thinking of grabbing hold of a ticket (if you haven’t already got one).

So to whet your appetite further, we’re throwing the spotlight onto our speaker selection to show you what you could see if you attend PG Connects.

Corey King is an award-winning creative, who co-founded ZenFri Inc. with his wife to use traditional and digital frontiers to craft new ways of telling stories, spread innovative ideas and utilize ground-breaking technology.

His current project Clandestine: Anomaly has been showcased for its innovative design at conferences and in publications around the world. To complete this augmented reality mobile game, he’s attracted a team of industry veterans and raised over $1.3 million.

Pocket Gamer: What has been the biggest story in mobile gaming this year, both in general and for your company in particular?

Corey King: I'm regularly very excited and just as regularly quite depressed by this wacky, fast-paced industry. In some ways it still feels like simple data driven free-to-plays are dominating. Other times, you notice the bold new ideas being explored or gaining momentum just beyond the shadow of the mass market juggernauts.

I think for me, the biggest stories are in the hardware space. New 3D sensing technology being implemented in Android phones, Google Glass, Project Tango, and Apple's purchase of Prime Sense.

Clandestine: Anomaly in situ

While not all of these experiments and new technologies will work out as well as we may hope, any one of them brought to maturity could be paradigm shifting. That's what gets me excited. Anything that opens up the creative space, that offers new experiences is big news. And these days the space changes so quickly, that there is never a dull moment.

Even the app-ifying of cars is interesting and not really talked about in terms of gaming. Take a self-driving car, give it smartphone capabilities and you've freed up the driver, and added the tech needed to offer a whole new space to explore.

A whole new setting, and time where people will want to be entertained. While this wont happened this year, the pieces are falling into place.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges/opportunities for the mobile game industry in 2014?

I think the audience's taste, and the technology is maturing to a point where we will start to get better games topping the charts: better in terms of more emotional and gameplay depth.

The challenge is to position yourself within that shift, and to not squander the opportunities by trying to follow the current trend.

My thinking is that once a trend is so obvious that it's the talk of the town, it's already too late unless you're funded enough to brute force your way into the market before it's over. People may think free-to-play has been dominate for a while, though compared to other revenue models throughout history it hasn't.

Anything that opens up the creative space, that offers new experiences is big news. And these days the space changes so quickly, that there is never a dull moment.
Corey King

But even that model has massively changed. King, for example, thought to leverage multiple platforms to drive its games and monetization, while other big players were dug into only specific platforms. That was part of a change to stay competitive within the free-to-play model.

Right now there are a bunch of models making there way to mobile, subscription, episodic and so on. One of these may take root. Even outside of business model and platform trends, we are getting new types of experience on mobile emerging such as AR and VR.

How to package this all together in a compelling and successful game is the challenge.

How well do you think indie developers are doing at the moment? What's going well in the indie sector and what do you think they could do to keep themselves afloat in a tough market?

The indie element of this industry, as a whole, has an amazing record of driving innovation. It's a diverse, passionate and creative group looking to express themselves in new ways.

This allows indies on the whole to jump on new technologies, consoles, and design ideas that larger companies wouldn't think of, wouldn't dare attempt, or are slow to adopt. That's where indies excel and why they'll keep going strong.

Clandestine: Anomaly artwork

Similarly, as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, you'll see new kinds of people enter gaming just as the 1990s and 2000s saw a new wave of filmmakers due to high quality, but affordable equipment. That's starting to happen more and more with gaming as well.

You stay afloat by being innovative, and not being scared to fail. We have to remember that though overall indies are innovative, most games created are one-note or derivative concepts. But the ones that really standout, that we remember and will keep the industry on its toes are the innovators.

What are you most looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects?

Staying on the pulse of the industry. Anytime you can hear smart or brilliant people share their stories and give advice it makes you better at what you do.

I look forward to learning and finding people smarter then me, that can help guide my thinking into the future.

Which mobile game has made the biggest impression on you this year, either for good or bad?

Flappy Bird. I am really confused by that one. It's amazing to me that given the App Store's flooded and highly competitive state, a person can create something on their own, and still launch a top grossing, meme-generating hit. Even when King, Supercell and Rovio are dominating the markets.

You stay afloat by being innovative, and not being scared to fail.
Corey King

It also shows you never really know what's going to take off. Of course in hindsight people can try to dissect it, but at that point it's too late, and you're back on your own, trying to look ahead.

I don't think it is a good game, but it did something and that certainly makes you think.

And finally, in 140 characters describe what you think the hot topic in mobile gaming will be in the next 6 months and why that's the case.

I hope in 6 months we'll be transfixed by the rise of augmented reality gaming. Short of that, we'll be baffled by a "Flappy Bird-like" hit.

Grab your tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki here! and keep up-to-date with new speakers via the website.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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