PG Connects speaker spotlight: Neil McFarland, ustwo

PG Connects speaker spotlight: Neil McFarland, ustwo

It's just days to go before Pocket Gamer Connects 2014.

Our first conference will be held in London on 20-21 January - you can find out more details here.

So to whet your appetite, we're finding out more about some of our speakers.

Neil McFarland is the director of games at London design studio ustwo.

Since 2009, he's helped shape many of ustwo's App Store launches, ranging from a children's book and an experimental multi-media literature platform to the popular casual game Whale Trail, which is currently being turned into a children's television property.

A core gamer, illustrator and coach livery enthusiast, he says he wants to make games that people play all the way through and also hopes to be the first cartoonist on Mars.

Pocket Gamer: What do you think has been the most significant event for mobile games during 2013?

Neil McFarland: For our company, the biggest event has been completing an all-star line up of game makers to create an Avengers-style game team capable of create some of the most compelling titles for mobile.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges and opportunities in 2014?

The continued strengthening of the quality of paid games on the App Store should mean a much more sustainable environment for game makers, at least that's the theory.

At the very least it will mean that players will have a great choice of games to play on mobile and then the hope is that they'll get into the frame of mind that will accept paying a fair price for all the blood, sweat and tears developers are pouring into their games.

How will indie developers fare? Any advice?

It seems like 2014 will be a time that will be a little more kind and more fertile for people making great games.

Also I would also say that Steam boxes are very exciting in terms of bringing indie developers into the living room and out of the bedroom or home office.

How big do you think the East-meets-West opportunity is, and which markets are you most excited about in 2014?

Even small gains in these huge markets could be profitable so it's exciting, however, we know from working with Asian companies who are looking to convert popularity in their home market into the same sort of reach in western markets that this can be very challenging.

Still, the fact we always try and create an experience that relies as little as possible on text means we're hoping that we have intercontinetal appeal.

What are you expecting to learn from attending Pocket Gamer Connects?

Meeting like-minded people!

What were your favourite mobile games of 2013?

Despite having to use a walkthrough from start to finish to make it possible - and being creeped out by it - I have to say (after checking my phone and realising I don't have many games left on my phone from 2013 - including this one) that Year Walk [Simogo] was a standout moment in mobile gaming in 2013. I played it through my TV and thought it looked fantastic.

More recently' Chippy is a great example of really great fun mobile game that's so perfectly suited to the medium. Also the greatest puzzle game of the year was Blip Blup and was made by ustwo™.

Finally, what's your New Year's resolution and what resolution would you enforce on the industry?

My resolution is to learn to pole vault, and I would enforce a minimum price point on paid mobile games.


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.


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