Mobile Games Forum 2014

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Organised by Osney Media, the Mobile Games Forum took place in London on the 22nd and 23rd of January. In three separate tracks addressing Mobile Games, Social Games & Virtual Goods, and Social Gambling, the event covered a wide variety of genres, my personal highlights of which follow.

Robert Tercek, Chairman, Creative Vision Foundations, delivered an excellent keynote addressing stating that ‘Mobile puts me in media.’ With over 350 million photos added per day on Facebook and 100 hours of video added every minute of every hour of every day on Youtube, a huge shift is taking place in the distribution of content, for now we can see what others are seeing, often in real-time. And Speaking of ‘what’s next’ Robert opined that mobile is the de facto platform converging the real and digital worlds.

Navigating the field of what is and is not acceptable however, Robert cited journalist Stuart Dredge who demonstrated that there exists a divide between what is happening and what should be happening. Examples include games aimed at young children that allow the player to make hefty in-app purchases; where some items priced at £69.99. A child simply does not understand the implication of the transaction and in recent days this has been acknowledge by for example, Apple, who have refunded $32.5 million for in-app purchases by children.

Irrespective of the challenges, Robert opined that the smartphone will open up the world to the Internet of things, yet as reports of cyber criminals hacking a fridge to distribute spam circulate in our national press, there is a long way to go before the internet of things delivers safely. But if, as Nizar Romdhane, Director of Ecosystem, ARM, shared, that there were over 100 million smart tvs sold in 2013 with little content designed for them, it is simply a question of time before content creators and distributors realise the values of delivering through this medium, particularly when Nizar opined that he’d like to see games on micorwaves and ovens, to play while one cooks!

Amongst the most interesting talks was one delivered by Berni Good, Founder, Cyberpsychologist Ltd. Berni’s approach is to help organisations develop a better understanding of the psychology of gaming and how our behavioural patterns influence our interaction, across all gaming genres.

Perhaps the most striking observation is that women gain pleasure and happiness when playing mobile games while men see games as being intrusive. Within this framework sits ease of use, where usability aids in determining whether  happiness and enjoyment are fulfilled.  Further, Berni identified a category of gamer who while insisting that they prefer to play alone, actually do so to interact with the social elements of the game. Thus by understanding better the target audience, a game can be designed to better meet the needs of the respective target market.

Elsewhere, Eric Choi, Global Game Business Leader, Kakao, shared insight of how their platform enables gamers to reach the Korean market, which is the world’s 2nd largest Android market. Eric spoke about Kakao’s success then stressed the importance of localisation giving the example of Candy Crush who released the initial English language version followed by a localized version in Korean. Both ran in parallel for some time, and while at first the former gained traction, as soon as a localised version was made available, it took predominance.  His message, not to misunderstand the importance of understanding the market.

Henrique Olifiers, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios shared how they built Surgeon Simulator in a 48 hour period at game-jam only for it to become such a success that they had to build a full game shortly thereafter.  The game proved to be so popular that videos of game play appeared on-line, along many spoofs using the same game mechanics to make a sandwich, to open a tin of cat food, and so on.

Within the gaming sphere, Henrique identified the need to address Social 3.0 where games should be multi-player, multi-platform, they should be centred around the player (able to play anytime anywhere), they should enable a community spirit to be created, and for the truly sophisticated solution, they should be amplified by external events and activities. By understanding Social 3.0 he opined, games will generate greater revenues, reach wider audiences and crucially deliver a richer experience for the user; something which ought to be the real objective of any game or service.

The comprehensive two day agenda covered a wide variety of subjects, many of which simply could not be included in this summary.  But for those seeking to start the new year with leading insight into Mobile Gaming, MGF2015 will be a great way to do so next year.


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