Mobile Mavens

The geography game: Is the UK's toxic attitude to F2P holding developers back?

The geography game: Is the UK's toxic attitude to F2P holding developers back?

Last month, our resident columnist in Finland – the Finnsider – suggested UK studios made be falling behind their Finnish counterparts because of a difference in attitude to the free-to-play model.

"UK gamers especially seem to struggle with accepting free to play as a valid expression of their art form," he detailed.

"While UK developers pad curiously at the water's edge and begin to venture unprepared into free to play mobile gaming, hoping it's going to be some magic fix, Finland has become a world leader."

It's a point that came up repeatedly with devs at Pocket Gamer Connects in Helsinki – not all of whom agreed, it should be noted – and has since been expanded on by Mark Sorrell, who has described Finland as the "Graceland of F2P in Europe".

So, we asked our experts, better known as the Mavens:

Are certain countries and hubs rushing ahead in the F2P market because developers and gamers alike in that reason have a more relaxed attitude to the model? Likewise, are other countries being held back because they actively despise it?

 

Will Luton Executive Producer Rovio

It's been long quoted that it's funding that holds back the UK, but I think that's wrong – or, at least, not all of the problem.

Being a Brit, having worked in San Francisco and seen the Valley startup mentality first hand, it's attitude that is holding the country back financially if not creatively. There's actually a whole bunch of reasons why the UK doesn't compete with Finland or North America, but primary amongst them is that Brits are inherently awkward about being direct about making money.

We seem to want to attach an artistic or cultural worthiness to what we do. So this is creating a resistance and internal tension in companies which aren't conducive to making great games.

Meanwhile, the American Dream, which is so ingrained in to the American psyche, creates this scale of magnitude difference in ambition – this "10x thinking". Do you want to be the top grossing game? Or do you want to making ten times the top grossing game? Because if you want it you can have it. Meanwhile, many UK studios are stuck on the question of if they even want a top grossing game - and many doubt if they could ever achieve it.

The fact that every SFO - HEL long haul is laden with VCs proves that the money will come to a hub.

Jon Jordan 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.

Totally agree with Will.

At the recent Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki conference I hosted a panel about funding. The silicon valley dude was a flinty as you could imagine. He said Silicon Valley VsCs don't care about profits even to the extent of some companies looking for investment running out of money before a deal is signed.

Instead, he said the only companies anyone in Silicon Valley is interested in are companies with the vision to have sales of $100 million within x number of years, wherein x is a small number of years

I think European companies struggle with that equation no matter how long x is, in a way that US and Chinese companies don't. Indeed, it's something they embrace.

Sara Lempiainen Community Manager Unity Technologies

I think this really depends on the studio entirely.

If you're selling a boxed game for €60, you have to consider that most consumers will probably not buy more titles than those that appear on the "Top 10" list of games that year. Asking for those €60 upfront from someone who has no idea if they will enjoy the game is asking a lot. Your studio is also most likely pretty large and production and marketing costs are high, so those €60 per box still have to add up. You need a big number of customers.

Smaller studios can afford to make premium games that range between €3 to €15 as they are typically not looking to expand, but rather choose to collaborate with other studios or freelancers for new productions. Their marketing budgets are lower as they can take help from the game dev community for promoting each other.

We're also pretty lucky here in countries like Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands, where we have support from incubators and accelerators that provide coaching in different areas, including the business side.

This results in us being able to focus on the game design, narration and art, rather than having to be in the mind-set that we have to make a game that will guarantee us x many dollars in return.

Accessible game engines have also lowered the technical costs and development time. Several studios also do work-for-hire projects to sustain their business, and give their own titles the time and love they need.

Adopting the free-to-play model will never guarantee a game's success, and acquiring users in the App Store can end up costing the developer more money than what the users end up paying in the game. You run the risk of interrupting important elements in the game if you implement the F2P-model, elements of which are vital for pushing through your vision for the game.

Adam Green Managing Director / Owner Assyria Game Studios

Adam is an indie developer who works on own-IP and work-for-hire, both inside and outside the games industry. He formerly ran iOS promotion service Daily App Dream, before going on to sell the business in November 2012.

I don't think the issue is funding related; hell many of the Finnish developers raised their seed
investment rounds from UK sources - see London Venture Partners Portfolio, which includes Supercell.

In the UK we are more shy about being just in it to make money.
Adam Green

I think culture does in part play into this; in the UK we are more shy about being just in it to make money. I think we are also a little shy about asking for money.

In the majority of cases the 'top grossing' games are not getting there out of sheer luck, they are
spending vast sums of money on both user acquisition and iteration of their games; and this tends to require a large investment round to help facilitate.

I also think it is in part also down to acquisition and IPO activity. As Jon says, this changes the
equation in terms of a companies value. Profit isn't inherently a requirement of a "high value exit";
revenue and user numbers are more important.

However, here in the UK – and unlike in the US - acquisitions are less easy to come by and the IPO market less buoyant, so it's harder to build a business around the assumption of an acquisition or flotation.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Ideas Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

To Jon and Will's point, I believe there is a much more fundamental reason why the UK looks weaker by comparison to Finland - and that's the long-term investment in education, IT and infrastructure.

The Finnish government took a deliberate decision in the early 90's to transition from a relatively weak industrial economy to a knowledge economy, and invested heavily both in its ICT and education system. To quote from an article about this shift:

"Today, Finland is not only one of the most open economies in the world, but also one of the leading knowledge-based economies. Research and development expenditure in relation to GDP is one of the highest in the world – about 3,5 percent. Higher education enrolment is well above the OECD average; number of researchers in relation to population is higher than in any other country. During the 1990s the economy oriented heavily towards ICT (information and communication technologies), and by the end of the decade the country was the most ICT specialised economy in the world."

And whilst part of the reason for Finland being a current hotbed of talent, it's also clear how much ongoing support the government is giving to the mobile and games companies based there.

The Finnside track at Pocket Gamer Connects in Helsinki highlighted the strengths of the Finnish dev scene

By comparison, the UK continues to rely on the financial services sector and retail to support the economy, with infrastructure investment so slow that David Cameron said this week he had to come home from holiday in Cornwall because he couldn't get any mobile signal. Which, to be frank, shows what a joke our investment in technology is in this country.

I know that both TIGA and UKTI work hard to support UK games companies and start-ups, but I feel that we lack the kind of support networks that allow a small start-up to transition into a fast-growth target for VC investment. If you want to emulate the success of US or other start-ups, then as soon as possible you move over to SF or wherever the VCs are on the hunt for talent.

The UK games industry has always been incredibly creative and inventive. But the majority of new apps we see are from developers who have no actual plan or vision for success - they just have an idea that they want to share. If you want to build a global success, that's a long way from being enough.

Brian Baglow Executive Producer Team Rock Games

Will's hit the nail on the head. We have a fairly widespread issue in the UK games industry with the 'business' of making games. A lot of developers come from technical or creative backgrounds and the business aspects of making and releasing games are either ignored, or are dealt with using the minimal possible effort and normally based upon what the industry perception of what appears to work for others.

This is combined with a serious lack of anything resembling business or entrepreneurial elements within the numerous college and university games courses, to produce a growing number of developers who can't innovate on the business side of things because they don't understand it - and crucially, they don't want to.

The idea of innovating on the business or financial side of things is anathema to a number of developers, who will pour 100 percent of their time and resources into the creative process and then essentially toss it over their shoulder onto the market and hope like hell it goes 'all Angry Birds' - not that they're interested in becoming a huge corporate licensing company you understand.

It's a real problem. Developers are avoiding entire business models because they're perceived as 'evil' or exploitative, as well as entire platforms (Facebook) because (direct quote from an event in March) 'Facebook games are rubbish'.

Worse still, a number of developers don't recognise that they're missing the understanding of business they should have and in some cases, deliberately ignore it, as it implies they're doing this for filthy money.

I recognise a lot of developers are not making games purely for financial gain. But there are many people who are trying to make this their actual living and are finding it incredibly difficult because they don't know that they don't know the business elements of their, ummm, business...

If it makes you feel any better, we're in much better shape than the UK film industry.

Harry Holmwood European CEO Marvelous Entertainment

A 20-year veteran of video games and online space, Harry is European CEO of Marvelous AQL, a Japanese developer and publisher of social, mobile and console games, known for console games like No More Heroes and Harvest Moon, but now highly successful in the free-to-play mobile and web space in Japan and Asia.

A games programmer before joining Sony’s early PlayStation team in 1994, he then founded developer Pure Entertainment, which IPO’d and launched a free-to-play online gaming service way back in 1999.

He was also a director of pioneering motion gaming startup In2Games, which was sold to a US group in 2008.

Along the way, he’s been a corporate VP, troubleshooter, and non-exec to a variety of companies and investors in and around the games sector.

I think there's no question that a lot of UK developers have struggled to get to grips with F2P - whether deliberately because they just don't like the model as gamers themselves or just by misunderstanding what the model is, why many players like it and what kind of things result in high satisfaction, retention and monetisation.

I could count on one hand the number of western developers I've spoken to who have really played and understood Puzzle & Dragons.
Harry Holmwood

I could count on one hand the number of western developers I've spoken to who have really played and understood Puzzle & Dragons, for example. It's the highest grossing mobile game in the world for a reason, even though nearly all its revenue comes from one small territory.

I think it's fine that a lot of developers don't want to make F2P games - they're not for everyone, developers or players, and, I have to say, nearly all the money I personally spend on gaming goes on premium titles, but I see a lot of teams coming unstuck when they grudgingly try to shoehorn F2P aspects into their game, and inevitably fail.

If you don't want to do it, don't try. Building a product or business you don't really want to build is always going to be a recipe for disaster.

In a way, I think the UK's proud history of games development for the last 20 years is holding us back in F2P - we're still very keen to make games 'for us' (games enthusiasts, prefer premium) and not so much 'for them' (mobile owners, prefer F2P). Both markets coexist, so we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it too much. Let's not forget that the biggest game in the world (GTA) is still made in the UK - well the UK for now, anyway.

I think Will's point about the American dream is a valid one, but it's only a part of the story. Yes, ambition and self-belief is important if you want to build a successful business, but it takes more than belief to do it. I'm inclined to think America's success owes as much to having a large free market speaking the same language, at the right point in history, as to any kind of exceptionalism and unique self belief.

If I'm right, we'll see China surpass the USA in the near future as it enjoys many of the same advantages.

In Europe, I do agree it's fair to say that the pursuit of money as objective number one is less celebrated than across the Atlantic, and that does have the effect of reducing some people's ambitions, or encourage them to follow paths that might not necessarily be the most financially lucrative.

I think all that's fine (after all, I choose to live in Europe), but I think the downside is that there's a lot of naivety about business from many people involved in development here.

When people ask me if they should set up their own company, my answer is always 'yes - if you want building a company to be your job'. If they want to build their dream product, or just make a living making games they love (nothing wrong with either) then I generally advise against starting up - at least in terms of creating a studio, hiring staff etc). If you're running a company you'll be spending a lot more time with Excel than Unity, and a lot more time pitching, talking and networking than you will programming.

Paul Farley CEO / Founder Tag Games

Since founding Tag Games in 2006 Paul has built the studio from humble beginnings to become one of the most respected and successful mobile and handheld developers in Europe.

He began a long, and some might say, distinguished, games industry career at legendary developer DMA Design, playing a key role in the development of the GTA series

Some good points so far and I'm in broad agreement with them. The responses show that in any given success there are multiple factors that come into play to create an environment where the chance of success increases.

In terms of comparing the UK to Finland (or even Scotland to Finland given our impending independence referendum), it seems we are disadvantaged in a wide variety of ways. Some of these we have power to change, others are ingrained in who we are as a nation and are generational.

We've already covered access to finance and lack of investment in infrastructure and education which are addressable, and which whilst we might be behind the Valley and Finland are miles ahead of many other nations. Try building a successful games studio in Greece or Portugal for example! We've also touched on attitude and ambition which appear a tougher challenge, It is the British attitude to want to achieve, but in a conservative middle class kind of way.

The reality is that we fear breakout success for all the negativity and sniping that occurs from others. There is peer pressure not to be too successful!

Pocket Gamer Connects was my first time in Helsinki and a few other aspects stood out, as positive differentiators for the Finnish games industry.

In Finland there seems to better access to high quality management. I'm not clear on whether this is due to the influence of the likes of Nokia filtering down, but the Finnish studios appear to have very capable management. In the UK most game studios are run by people who have come up "through the ranks".

Very few have business education or experience before running a studio and I do feel this is detrimental in many cases. We also struggle to attract the right kind of talent at board level. Unless you have a VC investor able to pull strings it is very difficult to find experienced board advisors who will input at a strategic level.

We have a strong legacy of quality product development in the UK, but often the exploitation of that product comes from overseas. This isn't just limited to the games industry. We have three decades of game development in which the UK industry has shown great ability in development, but how many UK publishing success stories do we have? Very few. An attitude that focuses on single product vision rather than a wider business vision is common place.

Pocket Gamer Connects in Helsinki

The growth of mobile and F2P is forcing this attitude to change, with greater emphasis put upon the need to understand marketing, retailing, PR, metrics and commercial elements, but this is a slow change and we've already had numerous casualties.

The final aspect that struck me in Helsinki meeting with various studios from the big to the very small was the genuine sense of community and desire to see others succeed. The attitude that celebrates success because "when one rises it lifts us all" is in stark contrast to the general lack of openness and trust between UK studios.

Whilst it is never openly expressed here, I am often left with the impression UK studios would rather see their local "rivals" fail so they can pick up staff and get one over the "competition". This small mindedness is to our overall detriment.

Change starts at home, so as Tag begins the process of fundraising for the first time we'll be celebrating the fact Outplay (one of our closest neighbours in Dundee) has just raised a $5 million round. We'll delight that Dave Jones is leading a new studio in Edinburgh on Crackdown 3.

We'll continue to support the industry at home in anyway which we can. We'll work hard, maintain our ambition in the face of numerous setbacks and hope that as we try to help others raise their game our time will come.

I do believe that, despite the challenges, the next big success on these shores could spark into life a dormant UK industry that exceed the Finnish hub and re-establish the UK as a gaming superpower again.

Oscar Clark Author, Consultant and Independent Developer Rocket Lolly Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Whilst I think Sara has very well expressed how a lot of (particularly UK) devs think; its not how the economics work.

Price Elasticity of Demand is a curious thing and not every product has the same curve but demand is always affected by supply and price. What makes the €60 games work is that they are blockbuster 'niche' products which build up anticipation through traditional marketing, brands and awesome experiences.

They also cost a lot to make in terms of money and resources which is usually the equivalent of a publisher going all in on two pairs!

I think soon the Finns will have some real competition on their hands from the Brits.
Oscar Clark

If you don't appreciate how hit drive that business is its easy for a studio to make the assumption that price is a proportion of effort and therefore I can set my price lower to €3-€15 to reflect the value of my game as a smaller studio.

But that's not how it works. Price is more complex than just a demonstration of value and free has a magical property as demonstrated by the classic 'Hersheys' experiment by Prof Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and his team.

In one trial of one study [they] offered students a Lindt Truffle for 26 cents and a Hershey's Kiss for 1 cent and observed the buying behaviour: 40 percent went with the truffle and 40 percent with the Kiss. When [they] dropped the price of both chocolates by just 1 cent, we observed that suddenly 90 percent of participants opted for the free Kiss, even though the relative price between the two was the same.

Free doesn't remove the need for anticipation; especially now everyone and their dog are producing games for 'free' and some games have managed to use premium pricing as a way to communicate their value above the noise.

However, this is a symptom of how supply has shifted allowing niche products which communicate their value to succeed. However, when the game itself is a store (or should that be the NHS if we take Mark Sorrell's brilliant analogy) then there is no internal competition (mmm... maybe I'm stretching the analogy too far given the way the Tories have been pushing internal markets into the NHS - something we really should be angry about - too political?).

Will and John have rightly focused on the more general financial and commercial environment as well as government support which has clearly helped the Finnish economy but I think we should also remember that most of the really successful guys have just been doing this longer that the rest of the world and as a result they hit the wave at the right time.

As Illka Pannanen of Supercell reminded me at their event GamesFirst, a previous company he led, Sumea, won a competition we ran at 3UK in 2002 to bring games to mobile on Java. That's 12 years of learning how mobile is different from console. Chuck into that a start-up culture which has risen out of the end of Nokia and no wonder Helsinki is now a powerhouse of games development.

Personally, I think this is a repeat of an age-old problem we have in the UK. As so often we seem to lead the world creatively and from a design perspective but we get caught in old business models which risks killing off our industries.

I think we have largely turned the tide in games and I've been spending time with amazing teams who are all determined to make better free-to-play titles. And you know what, as much as I love those crazy Finns, I think soon they will have some real competition on their hands from the Brits.

I should add that I'm really more of an internationalist than a patriotic type and what I really enjoy is when you get a mix of drive, creativity and programming genius which comes from teams which are drawn from many cultures. A kind of Unity?

Jon Hare Owner Tower Studios

Harry makes some interesting points - the most important one from a European developers perspective is what does success mean. Games has always been a three way collaboration between art, technology and business and all three disciplines have very different ways of evaluating success.

A person of artistic leaning is much more inspirational and ego driven and defines success as how much their creation has permeated into the public consciousness in the long term. They are looking for their magic touch to be acknowledged by their peers and the market to feel successful.

A more technical person is often very similar and is looking to prove that their vision, planning and execution is more efficient than their competitors. A good technical team is at the heart of every successful game - their measure of success is related to a less dramatic recognition of their ability to innovate and to perfect.

A business person measures success by how much influence he helps his organisation to exert on the industry and how much money he generates, in many cases however this relates to how much money he makes for his company. There are far more middle managers than owners in any business.

All three types of person want power in their own way over their own sphere, and all three types want to make as much money as possible on a personal level - who wouldn't.

In general, us western Europeans find the pursuit of money alone vulgar. We are happy for people to make money off the back of hard work or great talent, but actually view activities such as me too gaming as artistically demeaning, a concept that would not even occur to a team in India.

The problem with free-to-play is that it dramatically restricts the artistic scope of games to appeal to just 3 percent of gamers. People who measure success in terms of artistic achievement cannot see past this massive impediment to their freedom and therefore instinctively resent it.

Business guys, however, are attracted to the challenge of beating it and know if they get it right the rewards can be very rich.

It has been fascinating to see so many successes at free-to-play coming after many attempts to get it right, there have been very few overnight successes and it can be argued that there is almost a new art of Financial Enticement emerging in terms of getting the balance just right. This is success indeed on a financial and professional level.

Technical Guys are largely unaffected by this new free-to-play fashion. Yes, there is slightly more back end work than usual but unless a big platform change happens no-one will notice their work either way. Unless they mess up.

Oscar Clark Author, Consultant and Independent Developer Rocket Lolly Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Jon Hare - I fear you still see F2P the wrong way. Rather than restricting "interest" to the 3 percent who pay (indeed, some have argued is only 1 percent now) we need to look at the vastly increased potential scale - the 97 percent who don't equate to the scale of people who previously didn't play at all!!

Games which once were glad to have 100,000's of installs can now see 10,000,000 of installs.
And that's just using the obvious business models. There are many variations on the theme of F2P (many we are yet to work out) and lots of creative options if only we unblock our thinking.

That's why I agree with Mark's point that we need to start comparing with the NHS (free at the point of access) and the Finns already get it - but it's still a leap for many people of course.

Jon Hare Owner Tower Studios

Oscar, we have had this discussion many many times. Free-to-play is an interesting sideline in game making that suits a handful of game types. It should not become a narrow bottleneck through which all non-AAA games must be pushed.

F2P should not become a narrow bottleneck through which all non-AAA games must be pushed.
Jon Hare

Can you honestly say the experience of playing any of these games would have not been ruined, or at least tarnished by free to play; World of Warcraft, Elite, Skyrim, FIFA Soccer, Mario 64, Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid, GTA, etc.

You need to think about what you are saying here. Free-to-play is not a one fits all solution.

From a game designer's point of view, the problem is about the types of proven successful game structures and progressions that free-to-play closes or compromises due to the way it breaks up compromises the games internal rewards structure. This can negatively affect long term feel good factor and immersion.

The best example of this is New Star Soccer. The current version is better tuned for free-to-play, but now I am losing more matches. I hate losing so I feel worse about the game than before.

Let's celebrate and support diversity for games of all budgets including FTP, AAA and premium. There is no one fits all solution. Free-to-play definitely proves that.

Oscar Clark Author, Consultant and Independent Developer Rocket Lolly Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

I suspect we will continue to have this discussion long into the future… and its been a while since we did it over beer.

...and of course free-to-play isn’t one solution, let alone a one-size fits all.

If it becomes a bottle-neck then I suspect the application is wrong. After all, F2P needs only imply that the payment happens as an in-app purchase or ad funded. It doesn’t mean we have to use Clash of Clans models or Candy Crush.

We needn’t even have to squeeze people for cash. As long as players can expect future value there will be an audience willing to pay over the lifetime of the game.

Of course that where I think you and I do agree (although with different conclusions). We have to choose the right monetisation for the flow of the game. If we apply monetisation as a creative endeavour, rather than just copying existing models then we will see more success overall. When you listen to those at Supercell they say the same thing - its not about optimising revenue; its about optimising the fun.

Gotta love those crazy Finns.

Jon Hare Owner Tower Studios

The problem is that the other paths are narrowing in choice, and soon we will be sat in a polarised free-to-play versus triple-A market. It is actually the lack of a middle market that is the real problem here.

F2P as an option is great, but the fear of it becoming the only viable solution to market unless you have a triple-A dev budget is the elephant in the room here.

Harry Holmwood European CEO Marvelous Entertainment

A 20-year veteran of video games and online space, Harry is European CEO of Marvelous AQL, a Japanese developer and publisher of social, mobile and console games, known for console games like No More Heroes and Harvest Moon, but now highly successful in the free-to-play mobile and web space in Japan and Asia.

A games programmer before joining Sony’s early PlayStation team in 1994, he then founded developer Pure Entertainment, which IPO’d and launched a free-to-play online gaming service way back in 1999.

He was also a director of pioneering motion gaming startup In2Games, which was sold to a US group in 2008.

Along the way, he’s been a corporate VP, troubleshooter, and non-exec to a variety of companies and investors in and around the games sector.

The Room, Monument Valley, Plague Inc, Thomas Was Alone, Terraria, Minecraft, Gone Home, The Stanley Parable, Super Meat Boy, World of Goo, Prison Architect, Castle Crashers, Towerfall, Don't Starve, Hotline Miami, To The Moon, Limbo, Fez, FTL and a whole load of other games suggest to me that the market has never been less polarised than it is right now.

The best games are making people a lot of money, whatever the business model.

Jas Purewal Lawyer & Partner Purewal & Partners

Adding a legal view: at the moment the UK is the only Western country with explicit regulation of free to play games (though it's in its infancy).

Other EU countries seem very likely to add free-to-play regulation systems and the European Commission is trying to bring them all together right now.

So, in the future, there is the prospect that studios in some countries (like the UK) will have additional legal hurdles to meet when trying to make F2P games, while studios in other countries (like Finland or the USA) don't - or, at least, not yet.

Will Luton Executive Producer Rovio

Something else that's not been mentioned is how easy it is to dump staff. The UK it's extremely difficult to sack someone who's holding a company back, whilst in the US you can release anyone at any time without reason.

I've had people that have screwed team dynamics, created a sour work environment, played bad politics and just had to keep paying them.

Those people can just cycle company to company being toxic as they gather experience.

Harry Holmwood European CEO Marvelous Entertainment

A 20-year veteran of video games and online space, Harry is European CEO of Marvelous AQL, a Japanese developer and publisher of social, mobile and console games, known for console games like No More Heroes and Harvest Moon, but now highly successful in the free-to-play mobile and web space in Japan and Asia.

A games programmer before joining Sony’s early PlayStation team in 1994, he then founded developer Pure Entertainment, which IPO’d and launched a free-to-play online gaming service way back in 1999.

He was also a director of pioneering motion gaming startup In2Games, which was sold to a US group in 2008.

Along the way, he’s been a corporate VP, troubleshooter, and non-exec to a variety of companies and investors in and around the games sector.

I've got to disagree with Will here.

I think the UK, in this as in so many areas, gets the balance just right. It's not difficult to sack someone in the UK if they're performing badly. Yes, we have unfair dismissal laws which apply to people employed for more than two years, and rules about consultation periods for making large-scale redundancies, but both are really just about making sure a fair process is followed.

There's absolutely nothing in UK law preventing people who do a bad job being fired.

What we don't have is the US-style 'at will' employment, and I'm glad of it. I'd rather have staff who know that they're not going to be homeless tomorrow at my whim, and so can focus on doing a great job instead of living in fear for their immediate future.

Scott Foe Chief Product Officer Ignited Artists

I applaud the efforts of UK and Finland-based games industry in creating globally appealing free-to-play interactive entertainment, and for pumping thirty-percent of every dollar earned from that free-to-play interactive entertainment back into the United States economy.

I would also like to invite the Finnish and English Men's National Soccer teams to tune in from their couches at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on Tuesday to enjoy the United States Men's National Soccer team competing in the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

USA! USA!

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Ideas Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

Maybe the Finns are leading because they don't get sucked into recurring premium versus F2P discussions?

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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