Late last week my first ever op-ed for GamesIndustry.biz was published, tackling mobile’s mid-life crisis and why pumping out more Monument Valleys isn’t going to help anyone.
If you want to ascend to the summit of 30 St. Mary Axe – that’s London’s iconic Gherkin to you and me – you have to take two different elevators and a flight of stairs. After clearing the kind of security check usually reserved for long haul flights, the first of the Gherkin’s lifts takes you up past the bulk of the building’s 41 floors, before another seemingly more ‘exclusive’ elevator makes one more short trip up to the pinnacle. But your journey doesn’t end there: a lavishly lit, curved staircase serves as your final hurdle before the skies above London come into view.
I’ve recounted this tale a good few times during the last week or so, for last week saw me – and a bevy of other people who make their living within the mobile games industry – make this very journey for the Mobile Games Forum 2015 launch party. There was free champagne. There was a DJ playing generic house music in tandem with a live saxophone player. And, most strikingly, there were an awful lot of dumbstruck people resisting the urge to take photographs of the view on their smartphones. After all, you don’t want to look like a tourist, do you?
It put me in mind of the first time I got upgraded on a flight to Canada. Previously, I’d never flown anything but standard class, herded onto planes like cattle. Having received a last minute bump on a plane to Toronto, I had to compose myself, arriving at my seat last minute and surrounded by men in suits far more used to their surroundings than I. Having naively gulped down the free champagne assuming it had to be consumed before take off, it was a good hour into the flight before I dared press any of the buttons that controlled my lavish new chair, for fear of doing the wrong thing and outing myself as a mere ‘normal’ human being. I watched others, and tentatively copied their actions.
As in the Gherkin, I was out of my comfort zone. MGF’s launch party was a statement of power: mobile is on the bleeding edge of the games industry and, almost overnight, a collection of studios from across Europe, the US and more recently Asia have risen to become superpowers. They’ve undermined the giants that for decades dominated the console and PC scene and now regularly post the kind of revenues that make accountants blush. But, the bulk of the crowd taking in the peak of one of London’s most beautiful buildings didn’t work for King, or Supercell, or Rovio. They were small indie developers, casting their wide eyes across their surroundings in awe. During the two days that followed, these same developers would be treated to talks aplenty that detailed the disparity between those at the top and the rest: mobile is in rude health and its influence over the rest of the games industry is growing, but some of its loudest cheerleaders are packing up shop and leaving, because it’s a sector that serves the few, not the many.
You can read the piece in full here – http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-01-29-growing-pains