Interview

PG Connects speaker spotlight: Gareth Edmondson, Thumbstar

PG Connects speaker spotlight: Gareth Edmondson, Thumbstar

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.

Gareth Edmondson made his name as the managing director at successful Newcastle games company Ubisoft Reflections (previously Reflections).

He spent ten years at the company, including working on the award-winning Driver franchise, before leaving in 2011.

Gareth then joined Liverpool-based mobile publisher Thumbstar Games as CEO. Thumbstar is focused on providing developers with publishing and distribution services across the globe. With operations based in Europe, Latin America and Asia, Thumbstar distributes games into over 200 channels world wide supporting over 150 developers.

Thumbstar Games is the sole supplier to China Telecoms's new copy protected platform, and a Tier A partner to China Mobile, giving access to over 1 billion customers in China.

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

Gareth Edmondson: For the industry, it was Supercell's valuation.

For Thumbstar, we had high profile signings such as New Star Soccer and Colin McRae Rally, plus there was the expansion of our distribution business into even more markets.

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

Challenges: I expect even more saturation in terms of content, so the discoverability problems will continue. And, unfortunately, there will be the side effect of a number of casualties on the development side as the market gets even more competitive.

Opportunities: I expect an acceleration of Android adoption in Latin America and south east Asia, creating new previously untapped markets for smartphones

How will indie developers fare? Any advice?

It's going to be tough for sure, but as a gamer I am very excited to see what products are coming as there are a large number of very talented teams bringing products to market. We will see a lot more acquisitions of mobile development teams as well from bigger players.

As for advice, make sure your acquisition, retention and monetisation strategies are solid, but be flexible, as we will see some shifts in the market in the year as well.

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

For western product going east, the opportunity is huge, and not just Japan, Korea and China, but most of south east Asia as well, including but not limited to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

It needs to be approached with care, however, and requires a strategy, as each of these territories is wildly different. I also expect there to be similar opportunities in Latin America.

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

An exchange of ideas and experiences for dealing with these difficult but huge markets

What were your favourite mobile games of 2013?

A game we published New Star Soccer, of course!

And unconnected to Thumbstar, Badland [Frogmind], but there are a lot to choose from.

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

For me, to learn more stuff!

For the industry, stop bleating on about the evils of free-to-play, and accept that it's a business model that is here to stay. It is good for gamers and developers alike when it's done well, as casual players and massive fans can enjoy games at different levels of price commitment. And developers and publishers will necessarily improve how it's done as customers demand.

 

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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