Speaker Spotlight: Matthew Annal, Nitrome

What to expect at PG Connects London 2015

Speaker Spotlight: Matthew Annal, Nitrome

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.

No flash in the pan

Matthew Annal has run UK indie games studio Nitrome for over 10 years growing from a team of just two to a studio that supports several concurrent projects at any time.

Nitrome initially had success in the browser games space producing over 130 ad-supported free-to-play games before expanding into mobile.

Nitrome's first mobile game Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage was the #1 paid iOS game at launch, won Pocket Gamers Game Of the Year award and has gone on to have over 2 million downloads.

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?

Matthew Annal: Nitrome is heavily inspired by 16-bit games and the UK games industry was at a high during that era.

Worms and Micro Machines took up a huge part of my childhood, and teams like Psygnosis, Codemasters and Team 17 - all from the UK - produced a bulk of the games I used to play.

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

User acquisition is really only for the big players. It's a bidding war so unless you can afford to spend a long time trialing users to get conversion high enough your never going to be able to afford to pay in.

Nitrome's first mobile success was the Rovio-published Icebreaker

If you want to compete at that level you really need to align with a big publisher or have a lot of luck. Unfortunately that does mean that it is increasingly hard for developers without those resources to complete but it's not impossible.

It is increasingly hard for developers without resources to complete but it's not impossible.
Matthew Annal

We are constantly shown examples of smaller studios and indies that try something a little different and with a feature some press coverage and a little luck manage to carve out a business for themselves.

What are the major challenges when publishing globally?

We're told to translate everything and make our games culturally relevant to core markets but all that costs money that most developers don't have.

Personally I'm not sure I think there's such an issue. Maybe your game won't do so well in some markets but that's really a problem for people who already have a hit game. At that point it should be easier to address this.

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

Make something that stands out. That's always been the best way to get some free coverage and featuring on the stores.

Also try to be realistic with your budget on what you can hope to recoup.

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

I don't think so. I believe they will have an audience particularly VR but can never take off in the same way as mobile did. Everyone needs a mobile and is typically on a contract. Those factors drive people to keep getting new devices.

Any device that is not needed for everyday life will be bought in smaller numbers and new versions bought less frequently which is why tablets aren't as big as mobile. Also technology that requires other technology to run will already be further limited. The potential audience is capped to those with the required device.

Having said that personally I'm super interested in VR so maybe I'm wrong and being radically new feeling will be enough to overcome those issues.

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

Networking. It's always fun to meet and chat with other like-minded people. It can often lead to new business opportunities too.

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

I predict mobile domination from a small indie London-based studio starting with N :)

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 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.