After taking over London at the start of 2014, Pocket Gamer Connects will make its grand return on the 16-17 June in the Nordic paradise of Helsinki.
We expect you'll be thinking of grabbing a ticket (if you haven't already).
And to give you a hint at what you can expect, we're shining the spotlight onto our speaker selection to give a deeper look at the speakers taking the stage at PG Connects.
Vladimir Funtikov is the co-founder and CEO of Creative Mobile, a Tallinn-based developer and publisher best known for its Drag Racing franchise, which has approximately 200 million lifetime installs.
Pocket Gamer: What has been the biggest story in mobile gaming this year, both in general and for your company in particular?
Vladimir Funtikov: I was most impressed by the scale of King's IPO and the reaction that followed.
The biggest story for Creative Mobile has been our GameDevDay conference - arguably the best gaming event in Tallinn. It was a major challenge, but it went well and hopefully we will grow it further next year.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges/opportunities for the mobile game industry in 2014?
The challenge is in adjusting to higher market saturation and cost of user acquisition, especially in developed markets. We need to be smarter and more innovative when identifying our target audience and efficient ways to reach it.
A big opportunity is in finding success outside the casual free-to-play market, which is currently seen by many as the only way to grow big, but has become extremely competitive.
How well do you think indie developers are doing at the moment?
At both Gamefounders [Estonia accelerator] and Creative Mobile we see better production quality from the applicants. Unfortunately there's too many attempts to copy and combine mechanics of top grossing titles.
The fact there's money in a certain region doesn't automatically mean you can claim that money.Vladimir Funtikov
While borrowing some ideas can be useful, in the end you have to create something that makes the player happy in a unique way, and deliver it to the market in due time. The benefit of being an indie studio is ability to learn and adapt quickly - time shouldn't be wasted on replicating outdated formulas.
What is your advice for developers looking to make their games a hit in emerging markets?
They need to establish physical presence in these markets or license IP to a motivated and capable partner. Otherwise forget about these markets altogether and keep doing what works best for you.
The fact there's money in a certain region doesn't automatically mean you can claim that money. Operating in a foreign market remotely is very difficult, and spreading yourself too thin is a very real risk.
What are you most looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects?
Meeting the fantastic people this event draws together.
Which mobile game has made the biggest impression on you this year?
Flappy Bird as #1 app and its dramatic removal from the store. It triggered many discussions and made a lot of people question their understanding of the ecosystem.
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.
Which business model is the best and who exactly is the 'mobile gamer' these days. Should we focus on mass market casual or niche hardcore games?