The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week. And with PGC London 2023 taking place earlier this week, we didn't have to look far…
The booth for Brainamics was one that caught my eye during our set-up for PGC London 2023. I looked at it and thought it looked comically sinister, with this big white plastic headset covered in plugs and someone holding a controller. But by the time I’d finished my chat with CEO Philipp Zent about the tech, I’d been swayed.
The noninvasive nature of it is one thing, that and the very ‘space age’ idea of it all. ‘You can study your players' brainwaves to know how they feel about your game’ sounds like something out of a comic book after all. But it’s got broadly positive potential for the gaming industry. Even if ‘scanning a person’s brain’ can be a difficult idea to sway someone on.
The idea that ‘players don’t know what they want’ is something many designers struggle with. What someone says in a focus group or on a survey can differ to what they actually connect with. Being able to bypass the nature of people to obfuscate their true feelings means you can more easily understand why your game is good, bad, boring or otherwise.
I think the biggest ‘risks’ aren’t any brain-frying accidents, but rather that this might be a temptation to further dilute the art of game design into a science. Trying desperately to hit checkmarks and have the maximum ‘positive’ reactions instead of trying to balance highs and lows, payoffs and patience, to create the best reaction during the game.
Hopefully, developers and publishers will look at this as a way to better understand players as people. Not a way to refine them down to a set of statistics more so than they are already.
Pocket Gamer Connects London kicked off the year’s conferences with a bang, and our biggest conference to date came at what could arguably be called a turning point for the mobile gaming industry. 2022 saw the market decline for the first time in its history following a period of unprecedented growth, regulatory changes saw game makers struggle to adapt, and the world’s biggest market, China, imposed sweeping restrictions on play time.
Data.ai’s predicted trends for 2023, backed up by analysing the performance of various games and genres over the past several years, can not only guide game makers through the coming year, but potentially further. More creative and data-driven UA policies may be becoming more popular due to IDFA changes, but it also makes good business in a world where people are growing increasingly concerned with privacy. Games based on existing IPs may have previously been seen as a risky prospect, but adapting existing franchises into mobile game form can help game makers alleviate the increased difficulty of user acquisition in the new landscape. Finally, spreading focus can help game makers expand their market reach and global brand.
Of course, if there’s anything the past few years has taught us it’s that the market, despite its resilience as a whole, isn’t immune from turbulence. As such, it’s possible that things could change significantly, and the landscape in a year, or even six months, could look drastically different than it does today. However, game makers would be wise to take note of Data.ai’s report, and think about how they can apply those predictions to their business models.
It’s all too easy to wring your hands and say “oh dear” on topics such as climate change, but putting your money where your mouth is and doing something about it is the admirable alternative option. And if I owned an airline round about now, after Jiri Kupiainen’s talk at Pocket Gamer Connects London, I’d be worried about filling my next plane.
Fact is – as Kupiainen ably spelt out at PGC – most in-person trans-continental meet-ups aren’t really to get the job done, but more to flatter the egos of everyone involved. And this from a guy that – self confession – had already used up his lifetime quota of CO2 generation many, many times doing just that.
Sure, we’re all sick to death of getting our bookshelves ‘just so’ and getting expert at hiding that lovebite/spot/tattoo in video calls, but the answer isn’t to hop on the first plane out of here to show how ‘boss’ you are.
Kupiainen’s take is to take it lo-tech. His road trips with his team look like great fun and an opportunity to spend time and make connections with his people in ways that VCs and rushed globe-hopping could never equal.
Right now, alongside GamesForest.Club’s Maria Wagner the two are sustainably travelling around Europe to spread the message and show what can be done, bringing an end to needless air travel and promoting genuine connection over wasteful bravado.
We’ll be following their travels right here on PocketGamer.biz. Be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel to see their journey so far and get word from the industry leaders they’re visiting and influencing. Good luck!