Marking our first conference in North America, Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco is happening on 7-8 July at The Village.
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.
Patrick Walker is Vice President, Insights & Analytics at EEDAR, the largest specialty video game research firm in the world.
At Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco 2015, he's on talking on the subject of Understanding the Mobile Gaming Market on 8 July at 10.05am.
PocketGamer.biz: What do you think has been the biggest story in the mobile gaming industry of 2015 so far?
Patrick Walker: The biggest stories of the year have revolved around the ever-growing importance of big brands and deep pockets to drive breakout success.
Two examples are the success of the Fallout mobile game and the Fire Age television campaign. It is incredible that Fallout Shelter was able to drive enough mobile revenue in the first three days of its launch to work its way into Apple's top three grossing apps, which has been a very exclusive club for the past two years.
And even Americans that know very little about video games are aware that there is a game called Fire Age that Kate Upton endorses. This massive spending on television advertising has created additional success for the title.
A big story at the start of the year was how entrenched the top grossing games have been for a long period of time. The biggest stories of 2015 suggest that only big IP, leveraged intelligently, and triple-A-level advertising budgets create the opportunity to join that club.
We're starting to see the growth in mobile gaming revenue slow down in Western Markets, while in most Asian countries it's still very high. Is this changing the way you approach the sector?
Absolutely, especially because the different regions have such different tastes in mobile gaming experiences. This means that to be successful across regions, a sophisticated approach to portfolio management, marketing, and localization is a necessity for even moderate success.
Therefore, as a market research company, we have to be just as sophisticated in our research offerings across areas. Much of our 2015 initiative involves developing a better understanding of foreign markets.
Brands and celebrities continue to get more important. Is this a good thing for mobile gaming?
I don't view the growing importance of brands as a good or bad thing, but as a natural evolution of a maturing market.
I view the growing importance of brands ... as a natural evolution of a maturing market.Patrick Walker
Branding is an important tool to attract eyeballs across mature entertainment mediums, but it's not a guaranteed recipe for success.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was a breakout success last summer, but Lindsay Lohan's The Price of Fame didn't make anywhere near the same impact.
If brands and celebrities are going to be used to drive user acquisition and revenue, they need to be used intelligently.
There's lots of hype about wearables, VR and AR at the moment. Do they excite you as gaming platforms?
Wearables and VR are exciting because they open up the opportunity for completely innovative gaming experiences.
It is interesting to me that VR/AR and wearables extend the gaming experience on opposite ends of the gaming spectrum.
Wearables have the potential to push gaming forward to an even shorter, more accessible experience even than phones, with session lengths of only a few seconds. On the other hand, VR/AR has the potential to create the most immersive gaming experiences yet.
What's been your favourite game of 2015 so far? Why?
I am really enjoying DomiNations. The game does an excellent job of bringing back Civilization-style gameplay in a way that's nicely tailored to short session lengths, and it innovates in a genre, combat-focused city builder, where it's really difficult to innovate.
Outside of mobile gaming, I am going to call out an old-school title.
I was a '90s teen so there is a special place in my heart for the Baldur's Gate/Fallout-style isometric RPGs. Pillars of Eternity is a phenomenal RPG, top to bottom. To me the resurgence of isometric RPGs represents the best use of Kickstarter; funding projects that a niche audience still crave but need more funding than an Indie project to execute to their full potential.
What are you most looking forward to at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco 2015?
Interacting with the other smart folks in our industry, of course.
What can you reveal about the talk you're giving at Pocket Gamer Connects San Francisco 2015?
The EEDAR market research company was built on the premise that game classification and player segmentation are critical to understanding a market.
I think that we have done a really nice job of creating a great framework for understanding mobile, and many of the top publishers have adopted our framework when creating their product strategy.
My talk uses our framework to present data on foreign markets - this is especially interesting because different markets play games for different reasons.