Hutch's Shaun Rutland on being acquired and adapting to a new way of life

Hutch CEO on 2021's challenges and opportunity

Hutch's Shaun Rutland on being acquired and adapting to a new way of life

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.

Shaun Rutland is the co-founder and CEO of London-based games developer Hutch.

What do you think was the biggest news for the mobile games industry in 2021?

For Hutch, it was the impact of the developing pandemic and the vaccine roll out. After enduring the majority of 2020 with restrictions due to COVID-19, it was really important for us to make sure we were completely transparent to our staff in following the government guidance to the virus. Since reopening our offices and when the entire UK population had been offered the vaccine, we made it entirely optional for Hutchies to return to the office and will continue to operate in this fashion.

This has been the source of a lot of conversations in the games industry, and it's been very insightful to see how everyone has been able to respond to the rapidly changing situation. Despite it being over two years, the pandemic appears to be changing the way the future of the games industry looks each and every day.

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

Despite only soft-launching Royal Match earlier this year, Dream Games raised $50 million in new funding and has had a huge impact on the industry already. The match-three game has a fantastic design and proved that there’s still a huge opportunity for those with clear focus and talent in the mobile games space. With Dream Games now valued at over $1 billion thanks to the instant success of Royal Match, I can’t wait to see what they do in 2022 and beyond.

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

A variety of games have really grabbed our attention this year, due in no small part to their ability to deliver extremely creative partnerships. Among Us, Clash of Clans, Honour of Kings, and, of course, Fortnite have been able to leverage their reach to establish genuinely exciting twists on conventional marketing.

It’s cool to see companies like Nike, Burberry, Vans, and Hyundai, to name a few, using game platforms as a basis of connecting with consumers. It's a really interesting way to engage with brands that's starting to come into its own and it provides a lot of promising opportunities for game developers.

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

Our proudest achievement looking back on 2021 was our acquisition by the Modern Times Group. We were acquired in December 2020, and moved into 2021 not knowing exactly what the studio would look like moving forward. An acquisition where we could be trusted to keep doing what we’re doing, not just telling us what to do was crucial for us and, for me, MTG was a super awesome home for that. Smoothly completing the transition whilst in the midst of a pandemic will always be a proud moment.

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

Something that’s already a huge trend is all things cryptocurrency, blockchain and NFTs, and I only see this getting bigger over the next year. With many triple-A developers having already announced their move into the space, we’ll start to see more blockchain ideas and a structured market place forming that will help form a solid direction for the trend moving forward. We’ll be keeping an eye out as things evolve over the coming months, and it will be interesting to see how the mobile games industry adapts.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

We’ve been looking forward to getting back out into the world and seeing more of our industry peers and fans at events, and we hope that the latest stage of the pandemic doesn’t put that on hold for much longer. It was brilliant to speak at PGC Digital this year on the subject of human leadership, as this is a subject that’s close to my heart. We’ve missed going to events, and are looking forward to getting back out there to meet more amazing people from the mobile games community.

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

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