Game developer and Author Will Luton was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for us at ABG. Will helped found game developer Rovio’s UK studio and worked on Angry Birds 2 and was Product Lead on the mobile MMO Kingdoms of Heckfire at studio A Thinking Ape.
In 2013 he wrote the book Free-to-Play: Making Money from Games You Give Away which was published by Pearson and later translated for both the Chinese and Korean markets. During this time Will also provided consultancy services to the likes of Nexon and SEGA.
Will also successfully made the first smart watch game, Pixel Miner.
He has also written about games for Games Industry International, Develop Magazine, Edge, Gamasutra, PocketGamer.biz and the New Statesman.
We hope you enjoy.
The first game I really remember loving was Moon Patrol on the Atari 2600. It was the first game that sparked my imagination. I would often wonder what was on this world, where could I go?
Easily the SEGA Dreamcast. Way ahead of its time, extremely creative first party, awesome late arcade titles, online, Shenmue… It is just the perfect system.
Of all time? Can I give you a top 5? Ico, Shenmue, Game of War, Magic the Gathering and PUBG.
I think lots of people see it as my book or my work on Angry Birds 2. But personally the thing I’m most proud of was Pixel Miner, a game for the Pebble smartwatch from my short lived wearable games startup Wearga.
When I designed Pixel Miner nobody had any clue how to make games for a watch. I sat down and really thought about the hardware and came up with something I thought was interesting. The game went straight to the number one spot on the Pebble app store and stayed there. I still get fan mail to this day. It gives me a tremendous sense of pride that I was the first person to really crack the design challenge.
I think mobile F2P and console premium are both influencing each other. We’re starting to get higher production and more narrative experiences on mobile, while console and PC games are getting monetisation methods first pioneered on mobile games.
I’m seeing lots of AAA studio recruiters starting to approach me and my peers in F2P mobile because they know they’re not getting these monetisation mechanics, like loot boxes, right.
What I’m finding interesting is what’s happened with Fortnite vs PUBG. As much as I love PUBG it’s restricting its audience by being paid, on PC at least, and so Fortnite is growing much much faster. Ultimately free distribution will win in terms of audience.
Also I feel like lots of the care in UX and onboarding players is make its way over to PC making them much slicker experiences.
I don’t think there’s a single thing or person I can point to. I obviously come from a lot of privilege being a white man, who happened to be born in the UK to a loving family and had access to a great education. That is the biggest factor in the success I’ve had.
However, there was one incident that prompted me to back mobile F2P. I was stood outside the pub, celebrating the release of our latest game, when we spotted a guy with an iPhone 4. Back in the day iPhones launched in America first and at this time the iPhone 4 wasn’t out in the UK yet. So we were excited to get hands on with it.
We started chatting to the guy and he said he’d paid £1,000 importing the iPhone 4 early. Which we were kind of shocked by. We told him we had this game that just launch and what it was and he got super excited. “I’ll download it!” he said.
We gathered around and watched him navigate to the App Store. He looked at the app. It was 59p. “Oh, it’s not free?” he asked. He refused to download it.
This was an arresting moment. Someone who obviously had incredible disposable income was unwilling to pay even 59p for an app. I spent a lot of time seeking and trying to understand why that was and discovered a great explanation called the Penny Gap. This sold me on F2P as a dominate model for the future of digitally distributed games.
Hard paywalls suck. They make too many players bounce, meaning you’ll never make a cent from them.
You want to encourage players to spend, but never force them. Players will spend in their own time, which is very likely never.
Not right now.
Finger sized legs seems less disruptive to my life. But I would need to clarify: Are they as strong as my actual legs?
Easy, 50 duck-sized horse. You could round them up in to cardboard boxes and take them to… I dunno a duck-sized horse sanctuary?
We at Any Button Gaming wish Will and his team the best of luck in their futures and can’t wait to see what games they work on next.
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