Mobile remains a very viable market for indies, says Tilting Point's new CPO

Harder but not impossible

Mobile remains a very viable market for indies, says Tilting Point's new CPO

US mobile publisher'new generation games partner' Tilting Point has just announced the appointment of its new chief product officer.

Previously with Gameloft, Samir El Agili will now be heading up the company's search for the best new mobile games to partner up with, with European talent a priority.

We caught up with him to find out what expertise he's bringing to the role, why developers should be looking to work with Tilting Point, and whether this is still a viable market for indies. Gameloft and Tilting Point are almost opposite game companies in terms of what they do and how they operate, so how do you think your previous experience will help you in the new role?

Samir El Agili: Gameloft keeps development 100% internal and owns studios around the world.

Tilting Point keeps development 100% external and partners with developers located all around the world too.

So the business model is very different but the process of working with game developers in far flung locations is actually quite similar.

At Gameloft I was managing six different studios across the US and Latin America, and at Tilting Point I will be working with developer partners across North America, Europe and ultimately worldwide. That experience from Gameloft will really help in working with a variety of teams in different locations.

Being a great partner means we need to tailor our services to the needs of each developer.
Samir El Agili

Another similarity is that Tilting Point and Gameloft both work on games across many different genres, so my experience of working on 60+ games at Gameloft will be beneficial to helping independent developers with a diverse range of problems to solve.

One big difference is at Tilting Point, I'm not managing our developer partners but instead guiding and helping them. We offer support and provide informed recommendations based on our research and experience, but they have full creative control to make the game they want to make.

We choose partners that seek us out for our contributions, but at the end of the day it's their game and their decision; we're here to help.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role within your first 100 days?

Tilting Point is actively recruiting for a number of roles so one of my first orders of business will be to work with the rest of the executive team to find and hire the best people.

I will also be spending time getting to know our developer partners. Being a great partner means we need to tailor our services to the needs of each developer. So I will focus on understanding what our partners' needs are to make sure they are being addressed.

We have a lot of games in our pipeline that are coming together very well so I'll be diving in to see how development is progressing and how I can help them achieve their full potential.

It will be a busy fall and winter with many new game launches and some exciting announcements coming soon.

What do you think are the key areas in which Tilting Point can help developers maximise their success?

Successful games come from a mix of two very different types of functions. You need development specialists in art, programming and game design, and then you need publishing specialists in marketing, user acquisition, analytics and platform relations.

It's difficult if not impossible for an independent studio to staff both types, with perhaps a few rare exceptions.

Tilting Point has recently worked with VRTRON on its Languinis - Match and Spell game

I believe developers perform best when they can focus entirely on one project over a long period of time. Publishing experts stay sharp by working on a variety of different projects over shorter periods of time. Tilting Point helps developers by giving them access to a full team of publishing specialists.

With the constant evolution of the free-to-play business model and the mobile game market in general, game developers need publishing services that keep up with the pace of change.

Growth and change create massive opportunities for indie games to be successful.
Samir El Agili

The game you set out to make will launch into a different market than the one you originally planned for. While developers are heads down focused on making a great game, it helps to have a partner paying constant attention to shifts in the market.

Do you think there's still a future in mobile games for the majority of indie developers?

The opportunity to have a hit game is still there, it's just getting much harder. The marketplace is not as wide open as it was just a few years ago. It's harder to meet the quality bar and it's much harder to stand out and get noticed and find your players.

However, this is still a rapidly growing and changing market. The demographics span ever wider and smartphone games penetration still has room for growth. The hardware we design games for is continuously improving.

Growth and change create massive opportunities for indie games to be successful.

Mobile is still a very viable market for indie developers. You just have to come prepared. You have to know the market and what works and what doesn't.

You have to know what the critical features are to acquire, retain and monetize players and you have to be lean. If you don't have the in-house expertise, and it's impossible for every indie to have that, then you have to know where you need help and who you can get it from.

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.