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.
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.
Today, we're chatting to Oren Todoros. He's a mobile marketing specialist currently working at Plarium, a hardcore social and mobile gaming studio with titles available on Facebook, browsers and iOS.
He's been working in the industry for 11 years, making him a veteran of the scene.
Pocket Gamer: What has been the biggest story in mobile gaming this year, both in general and for your company in particular?
Oren Todoro: The numbers stemming from the mobile gaming industry are impossible to neglect. Worldwide spending on mobile games tripled in 2013 to $16 billion. These figures are simply staggering. Digi-Capital also recently issued a report that predicts mobile games could drive the whole game software industry’s revenues to $100 billion by 2017.
From our standpoint, in 2013 Plarium saw its revenues double year-on-year, with over twelve million people playing our games every month. While the majority of our titles are on Facebook, Plarium has since made the transition to mobile with our first iOS game, Total Domination: Reborn.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges/opportunities for the mobile game industry in 2014?
Distribution, engagement, monetization; in a nutshell those three topics have traditionally been the mobile industry’s biggest challenges as well as its most valuable opportunities.
Looking ahead there’s no question that they will continue to be hot topics. That being said, there are two other segments that I see as a huge opportunities for entrepreneurs. One of them is analytics, the other is beta testing.
Both publishers and advertisers are getting smarter about the data they choose to track, with many advertisers now gauging cost per engagement (CPE) and customer lifetime value (CLV) as opposed to simply tracking cost per acquisition or downloads. Making sense of game data and presenting it in a way that’s easy for developers to digest and act upon is a crucial element of success in the mobile industry.
In regards to beta testing, underestimating the importance of thoroughtesting before submitting an app to the store can be critical. Distributing the app to a handful of potential users is almost never enough, as ultimately the goal is to replicate the customer environment as exhaustively as possible. This again offers both significant opportunities and challenges alike.
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?
Apple recently included a new section for indie games on the iTunes App Store, titled "Indie Game Showcase" which highlights the indie game developers. This should give you an indication that indie games are indeed generating big business. The addition of this featured channel also gives developers on a tight marketing budget a good leg up.
It should be said that there’s beauty in the simplicity and speed in which indie developers can take a swing at the bat. In comparison to their counterparts in film or music, the barrier to entry is very low. Makers of independent games can work alone, on a laptop in a dorm room or while living with their parents in a remote village and potentially make a windfall of money.
Like with all good events, the best takeaway you can leave with are the solid connections you make.Oren Todoros
With the vast resources and ease of distribution available to indie game developers, very little is needed to start a games business. A major way this is being done today is by buying and re-skinning existing source code. This is both faster and a lot less expensive than developing from scratch.
Of course, sudden success can be a double-edge sword, as successful independent developers need to quickly become experts at data analysis, marketing, monetization and countless other tasks, all while developing updates for their games. That’s not an easy task to take on alone.
The best indie developers are the ones who are focused on building a portfolio of apps. There’s no sense in risking all your time and energy on one game, when you can build a network of titles. When it comes down to it, creativity and outside-the-box thinking are the key factors to staying afloat and maintaining a competitive edge.
What are you most looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects?
Like with all good events, the best takeaway you can leave with are the solid connections you make. There will certainly be a wealth of knowledge and insight shared at the event, so looking forward to equally learning and contributing some of Plarium’s strategies.
Which mobile game has made the biggest impression on you this year, either for good or bad?
It’s hard to put a finger on any one title that’s made the biggest impression, but there have been quite a few titles that have really pushed the technological boundaries that our mobile devices have to offer. I’ve probably spent more time playing Infinity Blade III than I should have.
Like most avid games, I’m always looking forward to the next great title that’s yet to be released. One of the mobile games I’m most looking forward to is Framed for iOS. I’m a big fan of stylized games, and the look of this title takes me back to classic games like Out of This World.
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.
Graphics and sounds; Gamers' expectations of gaming graphics have evolved exponentially over the past few years. Immersive gameplay will surely be a hot topic to watch.