Speaker Spotlight: FastSpring's Tony Markov on how alternative distribution platforms help power better profits

"By establishing an independent sales channel, developers can avoid the large fees, directly enhancing profitability"

Speaker Spotlight: FastSpring's Tony Markov on how alternative distribution platforms help power better profits

Tony Markov has been a key account executive at FastSpring for six years, specialising in assisting businesses, particularly game developers, in choosing suitable merchants of record.

His work primarily involves helping these companies diversify their revenue channels beyond the dominant platforms of Apple and Google. With a background in sales tax, payment compliance and payment infrastructure, Markov offers valuable expertise in these key areas.

Markov is one of more than 250+ expert speakers delivering 29 conference tracks at Pocket Gamer Connects London on January 22nd to 23rd. We asked Markov to tell us more about their upcoming panel, entitled 'Level Up Your Revenue: Unlocking the Power of Alternative Monetisation Strategies', as well as get their opinions on the latest industry trends.

If you could give other mobile games companies one piece of advice, what would it be?

If I were to advise other mobile games companies, it would be to proactively develop and prepare their own digital distribution platforms. This approach should aim at offering purchases directly to consumers, bypassing traditional app stores like Apple's App Store and Google Play.

By doing so, developers can potentially benefit from better profit margins, among having a blank canvas in terms of ways to keep players engaged and adding value through additional offerings, like loyalty programs, etc.

However, simply creating a store isn't enough. It's crucial to also have a robust marketing strategy to inform and educate players about the new source of value. This strategy should highlight the benefits of using the new store, both for the company and for the players, such as exclusive content or better price for value ratio.

This dual approach of infrastructure readiness and effective marketing is key to successfully transitioning to and capitalising on a web store model.

Where are the next big opportunities in the mobile games market?

In the mobile games market, one of the next big opportunities lies in leveraging the Digital Market Act (DMA) of 2024 and capitalising on the trend of building web stores outside of Apple and Google. This strategy allows game developers to significantly improve their profit margins without the necessity of developing entirely new products.

By establishing an independent sales channel, developers can avoid the large fees, directly enhancing profitability. This approach also offers the potential for greater control over the user experience and customer relationships, creating a more direct connection between game developers and their audience.

What company do you most admire in the mobile games world?

I admire Supercell in the mobile games industry for their strong core values and effective business operations. One cool thing they've done is adopt a unique "cellular organisational structure", where small teams operate independently, much like mini-startups.

This allows for greater creativity and quicker decision-making. As far as I know, they are also big on their commitment to quality, often choosing to cancel projects that don't meet their high standards, regardless of the investment.

What do you think the next big disruptor in mobile games will be?

The next big disruptor in mobile games is likely to stem from the shifting landscape due to the Digital Market Act (DMA) and the outcomes of Epic Games' legal battles against Apple and Google. These developments are creating cracks in the traditional app store model.

The emerging opportunity for medium and small-sized studios to operate their own distribution channels, including web stores, is significant. This change enables these studios to offer better pricing options and more direct engagement with their customers.

What leaders/pioneers in games do you find inspiring?

Larian Studios impressed me most with their approach to releasing Baldur's Gate 3. They notably used Early Access, allowing players to try a part of the game before full release and provide feedback. This built excitement but also ensured the game came out almost squeaky clean to the consumers. That is not common place for large studios these days and it was a breath of fresh air to see!

When not making/selling/playing games, what do you do to relax?

I am in the early stages of kicking off my own podcast, so primarily all topics related to video, audio, lights, set design, have been top of mind. I am a gearhead and love understanding how to shoot great video, how to get amazing audio, and how to design an effective set, so it’s been taking up most of my attention.

What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?

One frequent misstep in the games industry is focusing too much on monetisation, which can hurt the overall quality and enjoyment of a game.

This approach often leads to excessive ads or pushy in-app purchases, turning players away. Also, many companies tend to copy trends rather than innovate, leading to a market crowded with similar games that don't offer new or engaging experiences.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the mobile games industry today?

I feel like it’s consistently been navigating the increasingly saturated market. With countless games released constantly, standing out and capturing players' attention is becoming more difficult, making it a significant hurdle for both new and established developers.

What is the most overhyped trend from the last 12 months - and why?

The concept of "instant games" playable directly in social media platforms and messaging apps has been overhyped.

While it promised seamless integration and broader audience reach, I don’t feel like the trend has significantly altered gaming habits or industry dynamics, partly due to limitations in game complexity and monetisation potential.

What do you enjoy most about working in the mobile games industry?

The rapid pace of technological advancement and the ability to reach a global audience is exciting. Specifically its importance in APAC is something I am impressed by.

With limited internet connectivity and a lower adoption of laptops and PCs in some regions, but a wide adoption of smartphones, mobile games truly mean something to that market, and seeing that manifested is really exciting.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that you can pass on to others?

Focus on process and execution, results should come. “Chase it and it’ll run”.

What was the fundamental appeal of the mobile games industry that brought you to it?

The mobile games industry stands out for its inclusive community of developers, offering unique perspectives and creativity not always as seen in the more homogenised world of PC and console gaming.

Mobile gaming has a sense of community and collaboration, even between what normally would be competitors.

What topics do you want to hear more about at industry events?

I'm particularly interested in hearing more about innovative monetisation strategies that balance profitability with user experience, and keen to explore developments aimed at disrupting the Apple-Google duopoly, potentially opening up new avenues for distribution and revenue in mobile gaming

Can people get in touch with you at the event? What sort of people would you like to connect with?

Absolutely! I am largely agnostic to background and positions, and instead love connecting with people who truly feel passionate about what they do. I find that passion is contagious, and whether you’re a hardcore engineer, a sleazy salesperson or a struttin’ CEO - as long as you love what you do, I’m all ears.

Meet Tony Markov at PG Connects London

Not only will you have the chance to see Markov take part as a speaker at the show, but you can also arrange to meet them at PG Connects London. Our online organiser MeetToMatch is free to all event attendees, connecting you directly with more than 2,500 decision makers from the global games industry.

As well as the 29-track conference schedule, the two-day event also features a series of side-events like The Very Big Indie Pitch, Publisher SpeedMatch, Investor Connector and a host of other networking opportunities all aimed at helping you level up your skills and business.

Book your tickets now!