Speaker Spotlight: Xsolla

Meet the industry pioneers and business leaders who are speaking at Pocket Gamer Connects London on January 23rd and 24th 2023.

Speaker Spotlight: Xsolla

The leading games industry conference is almost here. Pocket Gamer Connects London is less than a week away and what a lineup of speakers we’ve got in store for you.

On January 23rd and 24th Pocket Gamer Connects hits home soil, returning to London for two days of insight-sharing, and contact-making interspersed with our world-famous thought-provoking panels, seminars, keynotes and more.

There are amazing networking opportunities and our expert sessions are your chance to get up close and meet some of the biggest names in mobile games in what will be our biggest and best PG Connects London yet!

Before the event kicks off, we've been speaking to the thought leaders, founders and industry pioneers who will be taking to the stage.

Chris Hewish, President of Xsolla, is an award-winning Interactive Executive and Studio Head with experience in managing operations and market strategies in all segments of the video game industry. His professional experience encompasses managing large teams of employees - sometimes over 300 people - at various companies, such as Activision, DreamWorks Animation, Survios, Skydance and Xsolla.

He has many skills and knowledge in different areas, which makes him perfect for leading multiple teams and businesses. As an avid gamer, Chris turned this passion into a successful career. With direct experience in designing and producing over 50 games that generate more than $1B in sales, Chris has a rare and successful combination of creative and business acumen in an ever-changing industry.

His unique skillset allows him to develop, design, and produce content, understand a company's strategy, and market and brand media products - all simultaneously. What can we expect to hear from you at PGC London?

Chris Hewish: Trends.

What was the most overhyped trend in games over the last 12 months?

For me, it’s easily been NFTs and how they’ll transform the gaming industry. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the underlying technology and the aspirational nature of something that puts more power and ownership into the hands of the players. But NFTs have attracted too many people who don't know what makes a good game. Instead, they view this as a get-rich-quick scheme and have attempted to force NFTs on a gaming audience that doesn’t want them, at least in their current form.

The sad thing is that all this hyped noise drowns out the fact that some talented game makers are taking their time and working on ways to create new types of gameplay with this technology. These are the people I’m rooting for, and I look forward to seeing some significant use cases after all the NFT hustlers and grifters are gone.

What role do NFTs have in games?

As mentioned earlier, NFTs will play an essential role in the future of gaming by helping developers and players create even more exciting and innovative titles over the years. But first, we need all the hype and grifters to cycle out, so that true game makers can find the right ways to use this technology.

NFTs can revolutionise how video games are created by giving developers new ways to monetise their work and improving the game experience by giving players new ways to interact. For example, players could participate more in the creative process of game design through NFT investments.

Just as players currently collect traditional game items and currency, they will also collect NFTs representing their favourite games or game characters. The key difference is that NFTs will create an entire secondary market for digital items. Users can define the actual value of virtual goods and recoup some of the value from their time and monetary investment if they wish.

Game developers and players will have more economic opportunities due to more exciting and innovative titles that use NFTs in practical ways.

What key trend should we be paying attention to in 2023?

I'm paying attention to how business models will evolve over the next 12 months. Game companies have already begun evolving their businesses beyond 3rd party distribution platforms, and I expect this trend of going direct to consumer to accelerate over the coming year.

In the past, it was safe and made sense to rely purely on using 3rd party platforms to get your game into players' hands. But several factors have recently arisen that have changed the calculus and are forcing game companies to look at going directly to consumers themselves. The three significant factors are - higher acquisition costs, more companies turning to 'forever games', and the availability of more powerful commerce tools that result in significantly higher lifetime value from players.

Simply put, it costs more than ever to acquire players generating more money than ever. Yet, once you acquire these players, you cannot develop a direct relationship with them. Instead, you are acquiring these highly valuable players and simply giving them to a 3rd party platform that benefits from the full extent of their lifetime value. The game company loses out on long-term revenue while paying higher upfront costs. The calculus makes no sense, especially when companies are maturing and looking at growth via improved margins. The answer is to go direct to the consumer and capture all the value while minimizing costs.

Is hypercasual gaming here to stay?

Yes, Hypercasual gaming is here to stay, but it must evolve to survive. We've already seen some significant impacts on the original business model, and anyone who doesn't evolve will fail. But those hypercasual companies that introduce new game mechanics and use more advanced business models will continue to find success. We've already seen this happening with the introduction of deeper progression mechanics into hypercasual games.

For the industry to grow, publishers need to release quality titles that include innovative mechanics and ideas. This will ensure the longevity of casual mobile gaming, and developers must consider their users' preferences and needs to create enjoyable games. If all these are considered, the genre will continue to be popular. With careful planning and innovation, hypercasual gaming could remain a strong presence in the mobile gaming industry for many more years.

What are your thoughts on cloud gaming?

All our research points to the fact that cloud gaming is becoming more popular in the industry as cloud technology rapidly improves. We have seen that cloud games offer developers unprecedented flexibility and control over production. Cloud-based services can provide game developers with new content and updates immediately without changing their development environment.

With this new development, developers can focus on creating high-quality content while maintaining a fast release schedule. Cloud gaming offers developers more opportunities to create cross-platform experiences across multiple devices, including consoles, PCs, and mobile devices.

Cloud-based services are becoming more affordable and easier to access so that developers can reach a much wider audience with cloud gaming solutions than before. The current trends show that cloud gaming will continue to grow and influence the gaming industry through 2023 and beyond.

There's still time to get your ticket for Pocket Gamer Connects London. To find out more about the event and secure ticket visit the PGC London website. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.