The Grass is Greener at PGC London

The Grass is Greener at PGC London

We’ve had a jam packed January. Though 2016 has just got started we’ve had a full slate of conferences, events and new projects just starting to test their sea legs. All that and we’ve still not discussed major updates coming to Clandestine: Anomaly and The Last Taxi in the coming months.

And to think, back in November we thought we’d be hibernating through the cold Winnipeg winter. Well, since hibernation seems out of reach, we thought we’d go somewhere warm, somewhere free from snow and foreign.

Somewhere like say… London, UK, which compared to Winnipeg is basically tropical. You don’t believe me? Look:


Lovely London Day

Seriously you call this winter?

Trafalgar Square


Green grass! Birds flying about! Swans!

Yet the news here said something about it being the coldest night of the year, and the locals are complaining that it’s cold and often can often be seen physically shaking. Make me wonder how they ever colonized the world.

For us hardy Winnipeg’ers this isn’t cold. Heck, it’s practically balmy.

All joking aside, while we throughly enjoyed the weather, and returning to one of our favorite cities, this trip was all business…or mostly business, as we attended Europe’s largest mobile games conference Pocket Gamer Connects London.


Entrance to PGC London


Highlights and Takeaways from the Show

The two day conference was jam pack with interesting talks from leading mobile developers like Tommy Palm of Candy Crush frame, and top selling indie developers like Amir Rajan of A Dark Room who we were lucky enough to meet one-on-one.

The mobile gaming industry is a curious beast with small devs sharing the stage with juggernauts like Rovio, yet across the developer spectrum three trends in the industry were very clear at PGC London.


Industry Trends Panel


1. Even the smallest of developers are largely “professionalizing” and adjusting their businesses to reflect long term health in a difficult market. Who is to say if this is a good sign or not, it could kill some of the innovation and creativity that has thrived in the indie space turning many studios into work-for-hire clones of each other, or it could help more studios build the talent and resources needed to innovate on a whole new level.

We hope of course that it’s the latter.

2. Even a mobile-focused conference, in an industry overrun by casual free-to-play games and casino apps couldn’t resist the attraction of VR. VR and emerging gaming technologies took up a surprising percentage of the conference and that was great to see.

With Apple CEO Tim Cook declaring VR is more than a fad, and former King designer Tommy Palm doing a Keynote on VR you get the sense that VR 2016 isn’t going to follow the same path as VR 1995. It’s just attracting too many smart people from across too many industries to not be real.


Tommy Palm's VR Keynote


3. Canada is everywhere, and other countries (like the UK) are scared of us. PGC London was packed with Canadian developers from pretty much every region in the country, both Vancouver and the Maritimes were there in force. We were so present they even put our flag up!


Canada at PGC London


When it comes to fear, there was a lot of talk about tax credits as the UK adjusts its  funding models in part (I’m told) because of how successful such programs have been in Canada. Looking at their programs their structure is basically taken right from the Canadian playbook. Unfortunately for UK devs, as we spent much of the conference informing them, it’s still much better here in Canada.

Hopefully we get some converts, though they’re going to have to toughen up on their coldness aversion.


Of Indies and Apocalypse

Lastly, Corey participated on a panel about surviving as an Indie on the Indie Apocalypse track. Here’s a shot of the action:


Indie Panel


This talk focused heavily on the issue of development fuelled by passion vs. the increased professionalism (read “work-for-hire” projects) in the industry, and tried to give sage advise to the audience about what it takes to be a developer.


Final Thoughts

Overall the trip was a huge success, we met a lot of new and interesting people, got an inside look at the European development community, and had a chance to enjoy the tropical climate.

Then in was seemed like a blink, we returned home…


Sunset over Winnipeg

Beneath the clouds winter is revealed

Home Sweet Home


Behold! Now this is winter! In case you folks back in London were wondering.

As a final note to fellow devs afraid of such weather, consider this, there is nothing like -40 C with a windchill to motivate creative thinking by the warm glow of a computer monitor. It really is a Canadian developer’s secret weapon.