Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Dave Castelnuovo

Looking to do more with less

Hall of Fame: Dave Castelnuovo

Dave Castelnuovo is a veteran flash developer, entrepreneur and consultant, who's also half the team behind the iPhone sensation Pocket God.

Castelnuovo founded Bolt Creative in 2001 as a flash development company and game studio, and helped to lead the indie charge onto the iPhone in 2008 and 2009,

He's worked with a variety of internet technologies companoes throughout his career, as well as leading game publishers such as Electronic Arts.

Pocket Gamer: What were your favourite games as a kid?

Dave Castelnuovo: Zaxxon, Atari Adventure, Yars Revenge, Crazy Climber, and Colossal Cave Adventure.

When did you realise you wanted to make games as a career?

In sixth grade I started hacking into games on the TRS-80. I tried to make my own little text-based adventure game at the time.

What was your first role in the industry? How did that turn out?

I dropped out of college in my senior year and got a job at a small third-party developer called Ringler Studios. Since I didn't have my degree I was pretty insecure and told him I would work for $20,000 a year.

His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. I ended up working a ton of hours, sleeping in the office on the weekend. He put me in charge of a game called Clay Fighter and when that was done I left. It seemed like it was a bad experience at the time but it really shaped the work ethic I have today.

What do you consider your first significant success?

I've been a part of a lot of successful games but I feel my first significant success was with Pocket God.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

As soon as the iPhone came out I thought it was a once in the lifetime opportunity and I had to do everything in my power to get involved with it.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming to-date?

The release of the iPhone

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm proud of what we did with Pocket God as a franchise. We worked on so many different types of things.

Pocket God is a big sandbox that allowed up to ship fun little prototypes and get paid for it. It also allowed us to get into toy design, write a 26 issue comic book, and a lot of other experiences I wouldn't have had with it.

I don't have many regrets. Our business would be bigger if we had more focus but that would be at the expense of the greater experience I outlined above.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

I love Candy Crush, the game is balanced very well and has top notch production value. The IAP portion of it is very expensive but it's simple in a way because it doesn't make use of a secondary currency.

Other than that, I like a lot of different kinds of games. Some highlights include Hector: Badge of Carnage (above), anything by Cave, and Hunters HD.

What are your predictions for the new big development in mobile games?

I'm not sure. I see more evolution than some big new idea coming along and changing everything. If the mobile industry does go through a big change it will have to be forced upon it through heavy competition from some other platform. Although I don't really see any currently announced platform that would be the source of this competition.

Over the long term, I see different game genres becoming more dominating than others at different times. Monetization systems will act the same way. I can see freemium's dominance starting to tilt back to paid or premium paid in the future and then eventually ebb back again. I don't think there will be anything new to disrupt current methods of monetization.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

I want to make good games. I want to further develop my game design skills and hope that I can continue to find ways to create content that moves people.

My current kick is to do a lot with little, creating game designs that can be built by a small team but yet feel like bigger productions. Next month it will probably be something completely different.


Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something PocketGamer.biz is doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.

You can read our previous articles here.

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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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