2014 in Review: Phil Gaskell, Ripstone - a $5 game is not expensive

Future trends from the remembrance of things past

2014 in Review: Phil Gaskell, Ripstone - a $5 game is not expensive

As 2014 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have dominated the last 12 months in mobile gaming.

As such, we've asked the industry's great and good to give us their take on the year, as well as predicting the trends that will dominate in 2015.

Phil Gaskell is creative director at UK publisher Ripstone Games

Pocket Gamer: What was the most significant news in 2014?

Phil Gaskell: Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor launched this year in a slew of devices, including the Nexus 9, and for me it's a real game changer.

I think we're now witnessing the tipping point where mobile devices are becoming as capable as next generation consoles, albeit with some still tough hurdles to overcome in terms of heat dissipation and battery consumption.

Factor in the console lifecycle iteration vs typical tablet or smartphone lifecycle iteration and it doesn't take a genius to come to the conclusion that mobile technology has the opportunity to propel gaming beyond next-gen consoles in the next few years.

How did your business focus change in 2014?

We've been very focused this year on a number of very high quality titles on mobile and next-gen consoles like Pure Pool, Stick It To The Man and Flyhunter Origins, and this was deliberate as we'd spotted the production values of mobile games rapidly increasing.

We'll certainly be looking at bringing more of our console titles to mobile in the coming years, and in part that's thanks to the most significant news event in 2014 which was the introduction of the tax breaks.

As a company that tends to work with a very high proportion of UK and EU companies, this was a business critical announcement.

What was your favourite mobile game of the year?

Flappy Bird, because it reminded me how unpredictable the market can be. Who would have thought a game so brutally hard (some might even say it borders on unbalanced) would be so popular with the masses?

The brutally hard charms of Flappy Bird

What disappoints me is how ugly 'people' are when something becomes a success like that.

What do you predict will be the most important markets for your games in 2015?

I think our focus will remain on our key markets where we always perform well, which are all mainly English speaking.

How did we find ourselves in a situation where people think $4.99 for a game is expensive?
Phil Gaskell

We're exploring Asian markets that have huge numbers of gamers, but the challenge is and always has been the business models those markets work to, and how our games can be made culturally relevant to them.

What do you predict will be the most important trends in 2015?

Discoverability will remain the biggest challenge for everyone, so we'll continue to see an increase in dominance of brands and franchises to ease that burden.

There will be the odd original gem aided by significant featuring from the platforms, but The Family Guys, Kardashians, and the houses of Lannister and Stark will rule.

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

I'm going to stop hating free-to-play so much as a gamer, and design a free-to-play game. It's time I embraced it fully before the bubble bursts (fat chance!).

For the industry I would enforce a greater emphasis on paid content. I think we've dug ourselves a very big hole when it comes to the gamer's perception of value.

How did we find ourselves in a situation where people think $4.99 for a game is expensive? That's the same price as nine Chicken Nuggets for crying out loud!!

Paid games are important, they represent a certain type of game experience that cannot be allowed to disappear. Free-to-play is fine for open-ended games, but if we want to continue seeing people wanting to create brave, interesting, and entertaining game experiences on mobile that have a beginning, middle, and end then there has to be a place at the table for paid games.

And it can't be on the floor in the dog's bowl!

Thanks to Phil for his time.

You can check out all of our 2014 in Review interviews 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.