Interview

PG Connects Speaker Spotlight: Neil Rennison, Tin Man Games

PG Connects Speaker Spotlight: Neil Rennison, Tin Man Games

Having hit London at the start of the year, Pocket Gamer Connects will be making its grand return on the 16-17 June, with the fun set to resume in Helsinki's glorious Wanha Satama venue.

Naturally, you’ll be thinking of grabbing hold of a ticket (if you haven’t already got one). So to whet your appetite further, we’re throwing the spotlight onto our speaker selection to show you what you could see if you attend PG Connects.

Neil Rennison will be rocking out as part of our Indie Rock Star track.

In his role as Creative Director of Tin Man Games, Neil has launched dozens of game book games on multiple mobile platforms including Zombocalypse Now, Steve Jackson’s Starship Traveller and Judge Dredd themed title Countdown Sector 106.

Pocket Gamer: What has been the biggest story in mobile gaming this year, both in general and for your company in particular?

Neil Rennison: I think that the continued rise of the Android stores, especially Google Play, is something that has certainly been a happy surprise.

Once our iOS sales were most important to us but we’ve certainly noticed an increase which, as a small developer, is great for us! Our sales on iOS and Google Play are almost 50/50 right now.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges/opportunities for the mobile game industry in 2014?

While it’s great to see two big mobile stores doing so well for us, it is a concern that there doesn’t seem to be a strong third or fourth player, although the Amazon Appstore is becoming a bigger presense. I see big challenges for some of the other stores as the consumer seems to have settled on what they find easiest to use and most reliable.

As a small indie with lots of apps, it actually costs us more in app support than the actual income we make off some of the smaller stores, so much so that we’ve actually had to stop selling, which is a real shame.

How well do you think indie developers are doing at the moment? What’s going well in the indie sector and what do you think they could do to keep themselves afloat in a tough market?

I’ve just returned from PAX East where we were lucky enough to be part of the indie MEGABOOTH. From my perspective the indie scene couldn’t be stronger and there are some amazingly talented teams out there working on games that have firm business models behind them.

Tin Man's latest game is Steve Jackson's Starship Traveller

That’s the key I think, in that indies are actually getting good at the business side of things too and we’ll see many of those teams rise and rise and rise.

The danger arises though in that with so many business-minded indies competing for space it could mean that the consumers have too many amazing games to choose from, which could incomes from those games being spread very thin. The trick for indies I think is to find their niche and become the best, or one of the best, in that field.

The mobile gaming market is expanding across the world, with opportunities in South America burgeoning at the same time that the market in Asia has absolutely exploded. What is your advice for developers looking to make their games a hit in these territories?

Our games are heavy on the written narrative so we’ve had to favour the English language so far, mainly to keep our costs low. Localising one of our apps is almost the same as translating a whole book, so we’ve had to be clever with our business model.

From my perspective the indie scene couldn’t be stronger.
Neil Rennison

So far we’ve managed to secure translations in French, Spanish, Italian and German with back-end long-term deals in the form of royalties. This has worked really well for us so far, so my advice to developers on a budget and with huge word counts is to look beyond the traditional localization companies who like up-front payment.

What are you most looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects?

I can’t wait to hang with other game developers and swap stories and ideas. I love these kinds of events and I always come away inspired with new ideas and valuable contacts.

I’ve also visited Helsinki once before on my honeymoon, but my new wife had the flu while we were there, so it would be good to see a bit more of the city this time!

Which mobile game has made the biggest impression on you this year, either for good or bad?

So many games have captured my imagination this year. I play a LOT of New Star Soccer, which is my gaming drug of choice. I’m a huge fan of Out There and was really please to meet the guys this year at PAX East – their booth was right behind mine!

I’ve always been a big fan of French comic-books and electronic music, so it was a perfect mix for me, especially as it has some nice interactive fiction elements too!

And finally, in 140 characters describe what you think the hot topic in mobile gaming will be in the next 6 months and why that’s the case.

I’d like to think that the hot topic will be the rise of a chooseable pathway style comic-book. If so we may just have something to do with that!

Grab your tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki here! and keep up-to-date with new speakers via the website.

Staff Writer

George Osborn (no, not that one) has been ensnared by PocketGamer.biz to write words for them on pain of death/in return for money. He works with the events team to produce pitch perfect editorial for Pocket Gamer's ever-expanding events schedule, as well as working on advice features and articles to help game developers make the most of mobile.

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