Interview

That was the year that was: Julian Farrior, Backflip Studios

That was the year that was: Julian Farrior, Backflip Studios
As the year draws to an end, it's time to look back at what happened in the world of mobile gaming during 2009.

Equally, the lessons of history are useless without a future to demonstration what we've learnt, so as well as asking various notables about their view on the past 12 months, we're also getting them to look ahead to 2010.

You can see the full list of our end of year interviews here.

Founded by ex-Yahoo veteran Julian Farrior, Backflip Studios, has been one of the year’s success stories, with well over 10 million free and paid downloads of its iPhone games such as Ragdoll Blaster and Paper Toss and Paper Toss: World Tour.

Pocket Gamer: What was the most significant event of 2009?

Julian Farrior: The iPhone emerging as a dominant mobile gaming platform probably qualifies as the most significant event of 2009. It has brought gaming back to the masses. My mom, three-year-old and wife all play iPhone games. None of them spent an hour playing console or mobile games on other platforms.

But, I also think that Apple enabling in-app purchases was enormously significant for the industry. We haven't yet begun to see the ramifications, but I imagine we will in 2010.

This, in addition to mobile advertising in games, will become a much more dominate revenue model as downward pricing pressure continues for straight sales in the App Store. Zynga, Playfish, Playdom and DeNA have shown all mobile developers a blueprint for what is possible with regard to selling virtual goods. Now all we need to do is execute, build good products and focus on distribution.

What was the most significant event for Backflip?

Well, the company formed in April of 2009 - that was pretty significant.

Second, was probably the mass adoption of Paper Toss shortly after we launched the game. We have had almost 12 million installs to date and it has allowed us to do a lot of things that otherwise would not have been possible. It helped us build a brand, created broad distribution for our paid titles and provided a significant ongoing revenue stream from mobile advertising. We plan to launch three equally compelling free titles in early 2010.

What was your favourite mobile game of 2009?

Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor blew me away when it first came out. The art, music, story and absolutely brilliant flick control of the spider made it the most innovative game of the year. Lately, I have been playing an absurd amount of Canabalt. A game that is equally addictive in unexplainable terms. Both are outstanding games that use the iPhone as a unique medium.

What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2010?

I think the gaming industry is shifting in general and you will see more and more formidable players entering the mobile space. In addition, there will be a lot of shakeup as smaller development teams succeed or fail and as larger companies start to absorb real talent (brand, revenues and distribution). It should prove to be exciting for all.

If you could enforce one New Year's resolution, what would it be?

I would like to see more innovation from Google, RIM and Nokia regarding making their platforms interesting to both users and developers alike. Apple has gotten a lot of things right on the distribution and development side, I'd like to see the other players follow suit and create more opportunity for all.

Thanks to Julian for his time.

You can keep up-to-date with Backflip via web and Twitter.

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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