Pocket Gems' Ben Liu on the generational shift towards mobile games

Pocket Gems' CEO on 2021's challenges and opportunity

Pocket Gems' Ben Liu on the generational shift towards mobile games

As 2021 begins to fade into memory, we're taking a look back at the events that have defined the last 12 months in mobile gaming.

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 2022.

Ben Liu is the CEO of Pocket Gems, a San Francisco-based mobile games development studio. What do you think was the biggest news for the mobile games industry in 2021?

Ben Liu: The biggest news to me was the continued generational shift forward to games and specifically mobile games as the future of entertainment. I believe strongly that as soon as people have access to computing devices, they choose to play games. We’re seeing this play out during the pandemic with more and more people around the world using computing devices and discovering the power and joy that games can bring.

The net result has been that mobile games continued to grow and take even more share from all other forms of entertainment – per App Annie, mobile games are on track to surpass $120 billion in 2021, growing by 20 per cent over 2020. Even with that tremendous growth, I’m still a believer that it’s the early days of mobile games and there is so much more to come. Our products have been downloaded over 500 million times and have generated over a billion in revenues, but I can see our next products being many multiples larger.

Which mobile game do you think had the biggest impact on the industry this year?

I’d have to say Roblox continues to be the game of the moment with its impact on the next generation of gamers, the amazing creator community, and the steps it’s taken towards early metaverse experiences.

What is your top and/or favourite mobile game of 2021?

Definitely the game we just launched on 9 December, Adventure Chef: Merge Explorer! We feel like it’s the perfect game for this moment in time, where people are wanting to explore and travel, even from the comfort of their home, and it’s something we’re really proud of.

I’m proudest of what we did to serve our players in Episode and War Dragons.
Ben Liu

The game I played the most outside of our games was Wild Rift. I’ve always wanted to play League of Legends on my phone and now I can.

In terms of your company, what's the thing you're most proud of during 2021?

I’m proudest of what we did to serve our players in Episode and War Dragons. From helping our 25 million plus registered creator community on Episode make incredible stories to getting together our top War Dragons players in our 2021 Player Summit, we were driven all year long to serve our community.

I'm also really proud of what we did as a team and company to move to a completely new tech stack and build a new game for the first time remotely with Adventure Chef: Merge Explorer. It is a testament to our tight knit culture and the years we have working together through many ups and downs.

Finally, I’m proud of how resilient our team and company have been through everything that’s happened and how we’ve gone above and beyond to take care of each other.

What do you think will be the biggest trend over the next 12 months?

One of the things I’m looking forward to is more games coming out. It feels like the pandemic has slowed development down a lot and that there are a lot of delays all across the industry. Now that we have Adventure Chef out, we have a lot of new things we’re working on that can hopefully speed up as well and come to market soon.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

I’m really looking forward to reuniting with our entire company in person at some point in the year, safety permitting of course. Related to that, I’m also looking forward to figuring out what the next phase of Pocket Gems will look like, hopefully taking the best from in person interactions and what we learned about working together remotely over the past two years.

You can check out all of our 2021 in Review interviews here.

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