5 important things we learned at Reboot Develop 2016

Most significant lessons learned from Croatian game dev conference

5 important things we learned at Reboot Develop 2016

From 28-30 April, PocketGamer.biz was in the company of some of the world's best and most experienced game developers at Croatia's Reboot Develop 2016.

Located at Le Meridien Lav hotel in the beautiful city of Split, it upheld its reputation for having arguably the best location of any games industry conference in the world.

But as always, the first priority for PocketGamer.biz was to learn as much possible from attending talks and chatting with smart and interesting people. 

Click through below to see five of the most significant things we learned at Reboot Develop 2016.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Competitive gaming, not eSports

    Competitive gaming, not eSports logo

    The success of mobile eSports is reliant on a number of factors outside of the games themselves, not least the existence of a strong streaming platform.

    Mobcrush is one of the companies most committed to providing this for the burgeoning sector, and PocketGamer.biz was able to catch up with its Co-Head of Business Koh Kim before her talk at Reboot Develop.

    Kim, however, doesn't believe that we should be using the term 'mobile eSports' at all - at least not until the players have validated it as such.


    "I like to use the phrase 'competitive gaming', because that's a lot truer to what it is," she said.

    "I don't believe a game starts out as an eSport... it doesn't get the competitive moniker unless the players deem it to be competitive."

    Mobile eSports has been widely touted as one of the biggest trends right now, with Clash Royale, Vainglory, and a number of others blazing a trail for competitive PvP mobile gaming, but perhaps what we can take from Kim's hesitancy is that the industry is jumping the gun.

    Ultimately it's the players, not the industry, who have the final say on what is and what's not a mobile eSport. We could do well to remember that.

  • 2 User research is powerful, bad UX is costly

    User research is powerful, bad UX is costly logo

    To Graham McAllister, CEO of Brighton-based Player Research, the limited focus on user research in the games industry is evidently mystifying.

    And indeed, when he took to the stage to showcase snippets of his report on base builders, in which it is painstakingly explained from a UX perspective exactly why Star Wars: Commander comes up short when compared to market leaders such as Clash of Clans, it became clear just how important a service it can be.

    Look closer

    As the Player Research report testifies, seemingly insignificant UI issues can derail an experience just as dramatically as poorly-designed systems.

    "Star Wars [Commander] could have made a ton more money if they'd looked in more detail at user experience and what the player is thinking," summed up McAllister.

    "And I can only conclude that they didn't look in enough detail. They thought it was good enough."

  • 3 Japan at a crossraods

    Japan at a crossraods logo

    Sho Sato, Chief Analyst at Japanese game marketing firm Media Create, took to the stage on a panel alongside cult favourite developer Hidetaka 'Swery65' Suehiro and games journalist Masatoshi Tokuoka.

    Together, they presented a view of an industry at a crossroads, both culturally and legally.

    Where now?

    First off, console sales are down massively on previous hardware generations, and mobile gaming has officially overtaken. But that does not mean all is rosy in mobile development.

    Indeed, a vast majority of the country's best talent still works in console, and it can be hard - even with the promise of greater market share and revenues - for the mobile studios to tempt them over. 

    Perhaps the most significant issue facing the Japanese mobile games industry, however, is the expected legal clamp-down on gacha, which is the nation's dominant monetisation mechanic.

    With the Japanese government expected to regulate the practice in the same way it has done with Pachinko, it will be made harder - or, indeed, impossible - to implement such mechanics, and developers may struggle to come up with an alternative that proves as popular with the Japanese public

  • 4 The Eastern European industry is strengthening day by day

    The Eastern European industry is strengthening day by day logo

    "When we started, there was nothing," said Branko Milutinovic, CEO of Belgrade-based developer Nordeus, on the subject of the Eastern European industry during his talk.

    "A few pioneers here and there, but mostly nothing."

    Well, arguably led by the success of Nordeus, the Eastern European games industry is certainly looking less sparse these days.

    On the up

    Reboot Develop 2016 proved it, bringing developers from Croatia and surrounding countries together to network and show off their games - many of which were of a high standard.

    The scene is still indie-dominated, and seemingly PC-focused, but there's enough going on in the region to have confidence in another Nordeus-scale success coming out of Eastern Europe before long.

    "There's substantial potential, but it's locked," summarised Milutinovic. "The quesion is how much of that potential we're going to unlock. Hopefully, all of it."

  • 5 Reboot Develop means business

    Reboot Develop means business logo

    Kicking off the conference, Damir Durovic was bullish about his ambitions for Reboot Develop. Setting it out in no uncertain terms, he said he was determined to make the Croatia-based event "the best games industry conference in Europe."

    It's within reach, too. Once again, the conference showed no shortage of pulling power - no doubt aided by its magnificent venue and surroundings - boasting industry legends such as Tim Schafer, Cliff Bleszinski, Rami Ismail, and plenty of others.

    No doubt Reboot Develop 2017, which is set to return to Dubrovnik, will present another step towards fulfilling Durovic's vision.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.