White Nights & Crazy Days: WN Mobile Conference Round-Up by Renatus


On June 26-27 Renatus team attended the White Nights: Mobile Games Conference in Saint Petersburg. The event is held twice a year: in winter (February) and summer (June). The summer conference falls right at the white nights peak, which makes it truly unforgettable and shapes the overall format of event.

Sessions at the WN start after 2 p.m. and last up until 8.  

The most active participants arrived to the city ahead of time to mingle at pre-party in Tribuna sports bar and gear up for two fruitful days. Sticking with the traditions, the WN team invited Jagger band to entertain their guests. Our special thanks go to pre-party sponsors: Unity, Everyplay and AppsFlyer.

On the first day of event, our team was actively involved in sessions and business meetings.

The keynote speech opening the conference was delivered by Pavel Ryaykkonen, the CEO of Nevosoft. Being more of a review, it covered the trends of mobile app market, putting mobile games in the first place. The big conclusion was that market trends haven’t changed much over the last six months. The cost of user acquisition (mobile traffic) continues to rise, and so are the amounts that gamers spend on in-apps. For all that, it’s not like all users pay. According to a guy from Google, 37% of Android users don’t ever spend a penny to play. And only 2-6% of players bring 95% of income.  

The speaker raised a topical issue of the best world locations for game making. He outlined the list of top 10 best countries for game developers that featured Lithuania, Poland, Finland and… no CIS countries.

We couldn’t slide over the presentation of new mobile game platform from VK.com. From what was told by Mikhail Boldov, we see the project is highly interesting, though the entry threshold is high enough as well. The platform features 4 games now, and the selection of next portion is going to be harsh. VK.com plan to add only 1 or 2 titles each month, but does it really matter when you have a 16-million audience in pocket? It’s way too promising!
By the way, VK promised they won’t claim the intellectual property rights (*sigh of relief*) and will ensure 50/50 profit sharing with developers (publishers).

Who also got onto the stage that day were men from Rovio. They were boasting of the story behind their first midcore game, Angry Birds Epic. The idea came with the German developers who wanted to get it published through Rovio. Refused first, they later got an offer to adapt the concept for Angry Birds setting. Two years after that the epic game came into the world.
The key message of Rovio’s speech was: don’t forget to enjoy yourself after making a top-notch product!

And yes indeed, the White Nights Conference crowd knows how to enjoy itself! As soon as the first day’s sessions were over, the organizers invited us to take a boat tour along the Neva river. Night city views, white nights, drawbridges raised up - that was awesome. We had lots of booze and hours to mingle with the industry colleagues. The party went on up until 3 in the morning! Any way you slice it, the informal part of WN event is its best part.

But let’s get back to the sessions. We listened, enraptured, to Jaime Ocampo representing DeNa and Allen Foo from Unity who turned our gazes towards the Asian game markets - Japan and China - that have been on the rise lately. Both are quite special in their way, and it’s a bad idea to enter any of them solo, experts say. Survival without proper localization and knowledge of market peculiarities seems impossible. In fact, only few Western games with a minimum localization pushed their way to Japan’s top grossing list (game hits Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga are among those). The situation doesn’t look so bad in Japan where the App Store and Google Play dominate, while Chinese market overcrowded with alternative app stores seems more hard to reach.

It would be too naive to wait for some totally fresh opinions expressed at the final discussion panel about game industry trends. Yet, it was fun. We felt like viewers of a casual improvisation brought by guys from Creative Mobile, AppsFlyer, Unity and Alis Games. They never missed a chance to poke fun of each other while discussing “how many users should a publisher provide and how this volume may be maintained”, “what countries are best for business, what places are best to live and work in, or open accounts in”. And that was a real clash of opinions.

The resident of Vilnius, Oleg Pridiuk, advertised Lithuania as a country providing preferential terms for business, good enough to attract game developers among other specialists. Some sticked with the idea of running business in Russia as the best option. And there were those who talked about the American investors who treat companies located in Eastern Europe with certain distrust (even those formally registered in U.S.).  

Debaters also discussed the mobile games market saying it’s too close to oversaturation. According to their forecasts, making games for Smart Watch is our nearest future.

All in all, that was a good event. We had a lot of meetings and networking. Two days side by side with industry mates doing same things as we do made us happy. And meeting the titans like Apple, Facebook, Google, Unity, VK made us feel on top of the world.

Thank you all for keeping good company. Let’s do it again next year!

Posted by Renatus on July 04, 2014