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Speaker Spotlight: Sandsoft's Yahsir Qureshi on game trends and cutting through the hype

Pocket Gamer Connects London is coming 23-24 January 2023. Time to meet some of the leading industry names that will be on stage at the event.
Speaker Spotlight: Sandsoft's Yahsir Qureshi on game trends and cutting through the hype

The leading games industry conference is almost here. Pocket Gamer Connects London is now less than two weeks away and what a line up 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's limitless networking opportunities and our expert sessions are your chance to get up close and meet some of the biggest names in mobile games for what will be our biggest and best PG Connects London yet!

In the build up to the conference – and to give you a sneak preview of what to expect – we are spotlighting some of the authorities in the games industry that are sharing their wisdom. Next, we speak to Head of Studio at Sandsoft Riyadh, Yahsir Qureshi.

With over 12 years of experience working on legendary franchises at Electronic Arts and Zynga, Yahsir is now helming Sandsoft's MENA region studios building new titles for players across the world and developing the local ecosystem through pioneering programs such as ‘Press Start’.

He'll be taking part in our panel entitled Beyond the Dawn - What to expect from blockchain gaming in 2023, a discussion where we’ll explore the trends and developments in the blockchain gaming space and what that means for gamers and companies in the coming year.

Be sure to join us at PG Connects London on January 23rd to 24th 2023 to find out more!

PocketGamer.biz: What key trend should we be paying attention to in the next 12 months?

Yahsir Qureshi: Games are the most complex form of entertainment, in terms of the sheer number of asset types involved (2D art, 3D art, sound effects, music, dialogue, etc). Games are also the most interactive, with a heavy emphasis on real-time experiences. This creates a steep barrier to entry for new game developers, as well as a steep cost to produce a modern, chart-topping game.

It also creates a tremendous opportunity for Generative AI disruption. By enabling the automation of many tasks that were previously done by humans, generative AI has the potential to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and open new opportunities for growth. As such, businesses that can effectively leverage the technology are likely to gain a significant competitive advantage where the price of content will drop dramatically, going effectively to zero in some cases and the lowering of barriers will result in more risk-taking and creative exploration

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

In an environment where 95% of games commercially fail, I see too many studios investing in a project-based approach and being data led, rather than a team-based approach where you are data informed. Ultimately games development is akin to research and development in which the most valuable resource is human capital and team chemistry. And so creating conditions where small, nimble teams who have the right mix of experience and youth can iterate and achieve progress is more important than fixating on one creative vision with the hopes that it may succeed. 

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

I admire companies such as TIMI Studios Group for their ability to scale several titles using new and existing IP to millions of players around the world. Rovio for its success in leveraging and licensing one franchise over such a long period of time in many different entertainment fields. King for its ability to continually grow a casual title, Candy Crush for over 10 years to new record-breaking heights. And Supercell for its ability to create a culture which puts autonomy, trust and control in the hands of developers that has proved to be successful in developing multiple billion dollar mobile gaming franchises.

What game has been on your phone the longest?

With its mix of irreverent humour, Pixar level art quality, second to second gameplay and hard to master strategy mechanics, Boom Beach has been a mainstay on my phone for the best of the past five years.

What is the most overhyped trend from the last 12 months?

The Metaverse. Depending on who you ask, the metaverse is either the promising next frontier of the internet or the most over-hyped phenomenon. There is no question the term ― still loosely defined and difficult to categorise ― is in a hype cycle. This arises from the fact that there is firstly no clear and unified definition of what it is or whether we are already in it! While all the technologies contributing towards developing the concept will no doubt breed innovation in many different industries and sectors, it’s unlikely that they will all contribute towards development in one single, unified metaverse experience.

Tell us your thoughts on play-to-earn games

Play to Earn as a business model is a fallacy. The space is filled with nefarious actors pumping into games and dumping as soon as they reach their desired profit target. So long as the focus is on the 'earn' aspect, a game cannot achieve sustainability. A growing and sustainable community plays a vital role in the longevity of any game but when a business model is so financially driven, it's unlikely to spawn a thriving community. As such, the focus over the next cycle of iteration will be put on ownership which not only encourages longevity but creates a community of owners who share the same passion. As such, the future of gaming will evolve towards business models that encourage more Play AND Own business models in the future.

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

At no point in history has a medium emerged that cuts across the fields of Art, Technology, Creativity and Design and has been as immersive and interactive as video gaming. On top of that, the platform of mobile gaming has allowed more players access to games than ever before and resulted in the emergence of new business models which have been a source of innovation and helped increase accessibility to billions around the world.

That combined with the memories created in my youth around games and the shared social experiences made me want to also create games that would create such experiences for future generations of players. 

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects London and get your tickets right here!