Mike Bithell on finding success from aesthetic polish not the exploitative parts of the F2P business

What to expect at PG Connects London 2015

Mike Bithell on finding success from aesthetic polish not the exploitative parts of the F2P business

Making sure you start the year in style, Pocket Gamer Connects London is happening on 13-14 January 2015 at Vinopolis.

Tickets are now available, and the good news is they are currently 33 percent cheaper than they will be after 15 November.

So to give you a hint at what you can expect, we're shining the spotlight onto our speakers to provide a deeper look at the personalities who will be taking the stage at PG Connects London 2015.

Indie success

Mike Bithell is the writer, designer and coder of Thomas Was Alone, an indie game that started as a hobby project done around a day job in the game industry, and went on to sell a million copies.

He now heads up his own studio, working with a team of 20 to bring Volume, a modern day update of the Robin Hood legend, to next gen consoles and PC in 2015.

Pocket Gamer: We're showcasing the Best of British at Pocket Gamer Connects so how much of an impact have British game developers had in your gaming life?

Mike Bithell: I played a lot of British stuff growing up, adventure books, graphic adventures like Simon the Sorcerer and Discworld. I loved Lemmings and GTA.

As I grew up and joined industry, I was taken under the wing of a lot of veterans, I even got my first job working for the Oliver Twins. Modern British game development relies on these foundations.

Why is user acquisition such a challenge in the mobile business today and what can games companies do to give themselves a fighting chance?

It's very hard to be seen by any audience, and the mobile stores are oversaturated to a point that makes being seen challenging.

Making a good game is more important than ever.
Mike Bithell

Increasingly, developers are being forced to return to old school marketing and press, as loopholes and exploits which folks were taking advantage of are closed down.

Making a good game, and presenting it well to a large audience, is more important than ever.

What are the major challenges currently facing games businesses when publishing abroad?

Variations in pricing are tough, as is good localisation that makes a game feel 'right' for international audiences.

I rely a great deal on partners to handle a lot of these jobs, and advise me on the right audiences to bring the game to.

How can indie developers adapt to survive in the mobile economy?

High quality work still seems to be the best bet.

There are no guaranteed successes, but those that seem to be achieving good things in the space seem to be putting aesthetic and mechanical polish first, and avoiding the creepy and exploitative parts of the F2P business.

Thomas Was Alone - a successful paid mobile game

Good products have a better chance of selling than bad products, but nothing is ever guaranteed.

Will new technology like wearable tech and VR change the mobile landscape? If so (or not), how?

Technology has never stayed still, so yes, all landscapes change. I have no way of knowing how. Distrust anyone who says they do.

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

I always like meeting new devs and trying new games. I'm looking forward to trying some out.

What's your prediction for the mobile gaming industry in 2015?

Continued difficulties for F2P as the population becomes more educated on some of their less pleasant tricks, and increasing degrees of polish exhibited in successful games.

Grab your tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects London 2015 here!

Don't forget to keep up-to-date with content from our speakers via the Speaker Spotlight hashtag.

And you can check out videos from PG Connects Helsinki 2014 here.

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.