Rob Hewson, CEO and creative director at Huey Games, on the big chances in gaming over the next year

"This is an opportunity for small, nimble teams to pounce"

Rob Hewson, CEO and creative director at Huey Games, on the big chances in gaming over the next year

Rob Hewson is a former Game Director on LEGO games turned CEO & Creative Director of indie developer and publisher Huey Games.

We caught up with Hewson to talk about the potential that new platforms can offer to smart developers. Can you tell us a bit about Huey Games?

Rob Hewson: At Huey Games we develop, port and publish for every major platform. This includes creating original IP like Hyper Sentinel, Wreckout and Mechinus, as well as working with indies to bring their titles to consoles, such as The Mystery of Woolley Mountain and Silk for Nintendo Switch.

We also license and publish limited run boxed games with our unique Collectors USB Cassette series, which includes classics like Droid Assault and Ultratron.

What does your role entail?

Wearing a lot of different hats! Much of my time is spent on business development and publishing tasks, but I do get to put my design hat back on working on our own IP. There's also a lot more admin to deal with when running a company compared to my previous roles at bigger studios, but I really enjoy juggling all these responsibilities.

I feel like I am more motivated and productive than ever - there's something about setting your own goals and objectives that makes you look forward to Monday mornings each week.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I was lucky because games were the family business when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, so I was absorbed in it from a young age.

I was a passionate gamer as a kid and I used to tape pieces of A4 paper together and sketch out game ideas, but I also had access to copies of CTW and MCV which my parents brought home from work, and the opportunity to sneak along to trade expos when I was far too young to have any business being there.

I was just as fascinated by the industry itself as I was the games, and I had the great fortune of seeing it as a perfectly natural career ambition.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into it?

Download Unity and start following tutorials. Make a really simple game, Pong being the classic example, so you get that satisfaction of completing your first project and increase your ambition in small increments.

Begin to think about what you are good at and what you enjoy, and keep on making things to flesh out your experience and to build a portfolio. When you are ready, apply for junior roles at established studios and keep pushing until you land your first role, then set your mind on learning on the job.

What are your thoughts on the industry over the past 12 months?

The wonderful thing about this industry is that it is always evolving and right now we are seeing a proliferation of new platforms. From Apple Arcade to Epic Store to Stadia and onward to PS5 and Xbox Series X, new platforms always mean new opportunities.

As the barriers to entry have lowered in recent years competition has become ever more intense for small teams, and funding has become increasingly difficult to secure, but when big players launch new platforms they have content gaps to fill and this is an opportunity for small, nimble teams to pounce.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

If I was any good at predicting this industry I would be a lot wealthier than I am! I suspect 2020 is going to be dominated by talk about PS5 and Xbox Series X, and I think subscription services will continue to grow in prominence.

Xbox Game Pass has shown how well this can work on consoles, Apple Arcade is pushing to make it work on mobile, and cloud services are likely to gravitate towards subscription models over time. It will be interesting to see how the growth of subscription services disrupts the business model for games.

More generally my hope is that the competition amongst all the new platforms continues to create an uptick in investment opportunities for developers.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

My games career started properly in 2005. Back then we were still building our own game engines as a team of around 30 people, which would be unthinkable today, and digital distribution was barely a thing.

The arrival of the App Store in the late 2000s, and to a lesser extent services like Xbox Live Arcade began to change that, and the impact of Unity has been enormous. This has led to a huge broadening and diversification of the market, which continues to this day, and a massive increase in both opportunity and competition.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

I am lucky enough to be taking part in the Big Indie Pitch again this year, which is always a fantastic event. In terms of time input to feedback and networking benefit, it is probably one of the most effective single events on the calendar for indie developers.

At Pocket Gamer Connects London 2020, Rob Hewson will be giving a presentation about making indie games for Nintendo Switch. For more information, and to book your tickets for the event, click here.