Gary Nichols on Playbox's rebranding as Atomicom; now prepared for a mobile-only future

Following the excitement and money

Gary Nichols on Playbox's rebranding as Atomicom; now prepared for a mobile-only future
Set up by members of various UK game makers and tech companies, Liverpool developer Playbox has been beavering away since 2005.

Perhaps best known for its Tegra game Bang Bang Racing, it's since taken a good hard look at the state of the industry and decided to change its name as it become a mobile-only developer.

We caught up with CEO Gary Nicols to find out why.

PocketGamer: Why have you decided to change your name?

Gary Nichols: We've been around since 2005 doing console games so we decided it was time for a fresh start and a new logo and image is part of that. We're totally focused on mobile development now so it seemed like a good time.

You're making Bang Bang Racing for PS3 and XBLA, so why is it your last console game?

We actually finished work on Bang Bang Racing for console quite some time ago, but even when we were originally trying to sell the game to a publisher it was clear console development was getting extremely difficult, both to raise funding and to create and sell original IP. The opposite was happening on mobile.

What's your view on the opportunities in mobile development?

It's really exciting. Companies are much more eager to do deals - OEM deals with manufactures, distribution deals with major companies - it really is like the glory days of console development.

The other huge benefit is with funding. So many companies have launched mobile funds and VCs and angel investors are much more keen to put money into mobile so that's the direction we are taking. We are talking to a number of funds at the moment for investment as we want to be quite aggressive with our release roadmap.

You were one of the first developers for Nvidia's Tegra devices. Do you think these high powered PC-style tablets will change the market?

We had high hopes at the start but sales were not really great. I think that's partly down to the tough market on Android and the fact that the device manufacturers of these tablets don't receive any money from the apps/games that are selling so they don't have the budgets to really make a big impact.

Now that Google has bought Motorola Mobility, I think we'll see a market changer coming through them.

What can you tell us about other projects you're working on?

We just finished The Best Christmas Game Ever: this was a fun game we wanted to put together for Christmas as we were between projects having just finished Tiny Gems for ToyBox Games (a really highly polished iOS game you should check out [iTunes link]).

We noticed there was a lack of high quality Christmas titles so we wanted to try one and see how it does. The cool thing about it is we pay homage to Vic and Bob as we have Jingle Bells sung in the Club Style as the game music.

How about plans for 2012?

2012 is going to be a very busy year for us. We'll be releasing Angry Wife in the next few weeks, which pays homage to Kaboom! and after that we are releasing House of Golf, which as a cross between crazy golf and Micro Machines.

We also had an announcement go out from Abertay University who awarded us a prototype grant for our Super Off Road Racing game, which features traditional arcade mechanics, racing against the clock to get through checkpoints. We have high hopes for this title.

And all of the titles we are releasing going forward will be joint iOS and Android releases.

Thanks to Gary for his time.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at 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.