Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki is gearing up to be our biggest event in the city yet, and we couldn’t be more excited to share with you all that we have in store! It’s going to be a magnificent two day event packed with endless opportunities to learn, scale and most importantly, connect.
If you haven’t heard, we’re bringing back Europe’s favourite games industry conference to the spiritual home of mobile gaming for the first time in two years. On September 27th to 28th, over 1,200 games industry professionals from around the globe will descend upon Helsinki for two days full of networking, matchmaking opportunities and hours of wisdom from over 200 thought leaders from all over the world.
We’re continuing our series spotlighting just some of the amazing speakers that will be gracing the stage at our Helsinki show this September. They have been generous enough to share a few of their insights and expertise with us ahead of time, and you won’t want to miss them!
Misdiagnosing why a game is successful, or spending years naively improving on something that is not broken is a very common mistake.Simon Hade
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the Co-Founder and interim CMO of Space Ape Games, Simon Hade. Simon is the co-founder of award winning mobile free to play studio Space Ape Games. With five hit games spanning a decade Space Ape evolved from a pioneer of mobile live ops with a string of successful mid-core titles Samurai Siege and Transformers Earth Wars, before selling to Supercell and transforming into a multi-genre company. Last year’s Beatstar, reached the number one downloads list in more than 20 countries and scooped awards aplenty, whilst continuing to tread new ground for both gaming and music and recently soft launched team shooter Boom Beach: Frontlines.
Don’t miss Simon Hade at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki, where he will be delivering a talk on the process that led to the creation of the studio’s biggest success: genre defining hit Beatstar, and how lessons from years of failing to launch anything has shaped all aspects of the company’s culture and attitude to… well… everything.
PocketGamer.biz: What’s the most common mistake you see being made in the games sector?
Simon Hade: For years we would look at games that were successful, despite having obvious flaws and limitations and smugly believe if we fixed those problems then success will follow. Too often as game makers what we feel is lacking in a game is just not that important to regular people. Sometimes a game succeeds despite imperfections such as a crude art style, or janky UI, or lack of depth. Sometimes the thing we feel is lacking is even the very thing that sets it apart. Misdiagnosing why a game is successful, or spending years naively improving on something that is not broken is a very common mistake.
The most important performance indicator is impossible to measure, but you definitely know it when you see it, and that’s team chemistry.Simon Hade
What’s the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for you - and why?
We went through different phases of putting a lot of weight into different business metrics. Often it was retention - D1, then D30 - but we ended up with great games that struggled to find an audience. Then we went through phases of obsessing on UA metrics like click through rates and store conversion to evaluate marketability and spent years trying to find a game that would deliver on the promise of a killer ad creative. In the end all the data is important but obsessing on any one, or any one set of business metrics tends to lead to bad choices. The most important performance indicator is impossible to measure, but you definitely know it when you see it, and that’s team chemistry. When a team is working well together, and has great energy, either executing against a clear vision, or rapidly iterating and learning, then that is all that matters. If we see that in a team then it doesn’t matter what business metric they are chasing, if they manage to stay together long enough then great things will happen and so we just need to do everything we can to keep them together.
What game has been on your phone the longest?
I have an internal build of a shooter we built in 2015 as our first foray out of Build & Battle. The team built it in 30 days to pitch a well known IP which never went anyway, but it was years ahead of its time in the sense that years later games very much like it would gross literally billions of dollars. The prototype is still my go-to on plane journeys and I play it several times a year. I also like to reflect on it when I or someone gets overly excited about a specific game idea, because it’s a reminder that so much of the success in gaming is about timing and execution, not the idea.
Even when we launched Beatstar, it was not clear it was going to work. We just had to take a leap of faith and it wasn’t until several months after global launch that it became obvious we were onto something.Simon Hade
How do you encourage innovation in your organisation?
Innovation happens when there is a high degree of trust and empowerment. People don’t propose crazy ideas if they are worried about politics, or job definitions and such, nor when they feel that success of the game is someone else’s problem. So we work hard to ensure that teams have good chemistry and stick together when things are working, and are small enough that everyone is responsible.
How do you know if your idea is good?
You don’t know until you know. You know? Or rather, if you are convinced your idea is good then that false confidence is likely a problem. You can hope, and have a strong instinct that what you are doing is worthwhile, but I think a bit of insecurity is healthy in game development to remain objective. Even when we launched Beatstar, it was not clear it was going to work. We just had to take a leap of faith and it wasn’t until several months after global launch that it became obvious we were onto something.
Connect with our stellar speakers
Expand your network with the likes of Simon Hade and many, many more brilliant minds at this year’s Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki conference. There is no better place to connect with the biggest and most inspiring industry players and take your business to the next level. You can still take advantage of our Mid-term offer for a limited time. Head over to our website and buy your ticket today, you can save up to a whopping £150 if you act fast.