Interview

Several small games are far better than an all-in project for indies, says 80 Days dev Inkle

Several small games are far better than an all-in project for indies, says 80 Days dev Inkle

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

And tickets are available now.

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.

Narrative arc

Jon Ingold is a writer and designer, and the co-founder of inkle, a software and design company that focuses on interactive storytelling. Their most recent story-game, 80 Days, received a 9/10 from Edge and a Metacritic score of 89%.

Before founding inkle, Ingold was a lead designer for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and an independent creator of parser-based interactive fiction games. He has spoken at GDC China, GDC Europe, PAX East and the London Book Fair.

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?

Jon Ingold: As a teenager, my two favourite games were both British - Lemmings and Tomb Raider - and I think I grew up with the sense that if one wanted to make computer games, then the UK was a great place to do it.

The other major impact on inkle, of course, has been the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks created by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson - classics of British gaming, and we're currently halfway through our reimaging of the Sorcery! series of books.

Why is user acquisition such a challenge in the mobile business today?

As a premium game developer, user acquisition is perhaps even more important to us - if we don't acquire users, or if users are costly to acquire, we don't earn anything.

Inkle's debut - 80 Days

But that's really the issue of discoverability, and there's only one solution that really works in mobile, just as in all other creative media, and that's to make stand-out experiences that are original, unique and excellent fun.

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

Our biggest challenges are localisation - which for text-heavy narrative games, is essentially an impossible problem - and market reach.

We've found getting noticed even in the US is difficult.

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

The most important thing for mobile indies is to stay focused.
Jon Ingold

The most important thing for mobile indies is to stay focused. Projects have got to push the boundaries to get noticed, but they can't afford to be bloated, overly complex, or too experimental.

It's far better to make several small successful games than a single, all-in project in the mobile space.

Will new technology like wearable tech and VR change the mobile landscape?

VR is likely to create new market pockets than change mobile per se - games for VR won't resemble games for mobile, and they're likely to be made by different studios (or at least, different teams within those studios). And the existence of those games won't slow the mobile market particularly.

Wearables are more interesting: if they take off, they might cause a further simplification in how casual games are played to fit them onto small screens with one-touch mechanics.

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

We were there last year, when 80 Days was in development, and we described it to a few journalists and other developers who looked a bit puzzled and bemused by the concept.

We're looking forward to going back and telling those same people about the same game, but as a successful release!

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

A reduction in the free-to-play market, as developers making smaller titles start to realise they're not earning out, while players begin to tire of the instant hit of free titles.

The premium game space is growing, slowly but surely, and I think that trend will continue.

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 of our speaker talks from PG Connects Helsinki 2014 here.

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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