An insider's view of startups and the games industry. By Matthew Wiggins , technology entrepreneur and veteran game developer. Follow me on Twitter


12th July, 2013 • 1 year ago

Our new company. Lovingly crafted multiplayer games for iOS

Startups and Family Life Can Mix - Here’s How

18th March, 2013 • 1 year ago •

Recently there’s been plenty of discussion in the technology industry about work/life balance, and in particular whether it’s possible to be a good parent whilst having a successful career in startups: examples such as Yahoo cutting down on remote work, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and, most tellingly, the reaction to Elon Musk’s parenting insight at SXSW

Some will tell you that it’s not possible to do a startup and be a decent parent. They’re wrong. When we started Wonderland Software my son had turned three, and I’d been working in the games industry - which is not exactly renowned for it’s pursuit of a healthy work/life balance - for nearly a decade. He’s now seven, and in that time I’ve learned plenty about how to balance the pressures of startup life with the much more important demands of raising a family. Here are a few tips.

Flexible Working

Enlightened companies support flexible working. This is good for everyone, parents or not, but can obviously help people who have non-negotiable time commitments such as the school run.

Flexitime, perhaps with core hours (we had 11am-3pm at Wonderland), and a trusting environment that emphasises give-and-take on working time helps employees and employers.

Manage your hours

It’s not healthy for you, your business or your family to constantly put in long days and work weekends. Startups are generally a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to pace yourself so that you are at your most creative and productive for the longest period of time. Happily, this fits in with cutting down on the crunch and spending more time with your family.

Exclusive family time

Make time you spend with your family devoted to them - ditch the phone, stop checking email, and try to put work to the back of your mind. Give them your full attention and take off your work-face.

Sit-down home meals

Eat your home meals at the dining table, and get up early enough that you can share a proper breakfast with each other. Make dinner at home the norm, not the exception

Cut down on work trips

Be strict with yourself about how worthwhile those out-of-town trips are. Is that conference going to really benefit you, or is it another jolly just like the one you went to a few weeks ago? Is the trip to the parent office in San Francisco actually necessary, or is it just a handshaking placebo for fundamental problems that should be fixed back at base?

It’s easy to think that because you’re travelling you’re working, but I bet that many times you’d save yourself a lot of time by rethinking your approach to this work - and it’ll mean you won’t need to spend the next week away from home.

Share your experiences

Talk to your kids about work. Show them what you’re working on, and ask for their opinions (I’ll bet they’ll notice things that you’ve missed). They’ll love the fact you are sharing with them, and you’ll prevent yourself - and your work - from being remote or distant.

Mobile Games Forum 2013

16th January, 2013 • 1 year ago

In a week’s time I’ll be chairing the Mobile Games Forum, which will be a new experience for me - it’ll be a treat to help run the show, and I’m looking forward to working with the (really quite great) speaker line up. Judging by the behind-the-scenes discussion about the sessions and panels, I’m confident it’s going to be an excellent event.

2013 is shaping up to be another fascinating and tumultuous year for the games industry, and I reckon that we’ll be working hard to identify some of the key trends for the next twelve months. I’ll follow up here with a post-conference report before the end of January.

Free-to-play arguments are a waste of our time

18th December, 2012 • 1 year ago •

The games industry has an unhealthy obsession with arguing about business models, and it’s wasting our time.

I’m tired of reading the same old things about freemium games, and how evil they are. I’m tired of conferences descending into argument between free-to-play zealots and retail magnates. I’m tired of having to filter every developer opinion I read through the lens of whatever business model they profit from.

Developers, publishers and journalists need to move on from the trite free-to-play arguments, and use that wasted energy in deeply considering all the other aspects of their products. Free vs. paid does not differentiate your game from the hundreds that are born every week. Creative design, great implementation, and caring for your players are the battlegrounds that will make your game stand out from the crowd. And the business model you choose, wherever it may lie on the huge spectrum of possible choices, should not be the #1 thing you care about.

I don’t want a F2P Tetris. I don’t want a retail-boxed Jetpack Joyride. What I do want to see is developers & publishers use the wonderful variety of revenue-generation and distribution options open to them to create great games that serve all the different desires of the huge number of current & potential players out there.

Gut Level Affection

6th December, 2012 • 1 year ago

Horace Dediu interviews Jean-Louis Gassée. This pearl of wisdom is at 22m30s:

Don’t get into businesses for which you don’t have a gut level affection. The intellect is one thing but you have to have real appetite for the business. And what makes people succeed and fail sometimes is not the neo-cortex level but the gut level.

App Annie Index November 2012: US dominance is reducing

29th November, 2012 • 1 year ago

The app publishing business is by its very nature a global business, but there has long been an East-West divide. Well, that barrier is coming down. Indeed in recent months, we’re starting to see more East Asian publishers invest in global content with significant commercial success. For October 2012, seven of the Top 10 publishers on Google Play by revenue, are Japanese or Korean.

Lots of useful data in the latest App Annie index, some of which is showing how the US dominance of the App Store and Google Play is gradually reducing. On the top ten revenue charts, on the App Store four of the publishers are US, and on Google Play only Zynga is there. And many of the publishers increasing their share are Japanese or Korean.

This is an interesting reversal of the trend seen over the last decade in the console business, where the eastern publishers have ceded share to western companies. The eastern markets for mobile continue to show much higher lifetime revenue-per-user compared to the west.

Going multiplatform is far from a no-brainer

28th November, 2012 • 1 year ago

Fraser MacInnes argues on Pocket Gamer that cross platform development isn’t a slam dunk. I agree:

Is it not better to focus your efforts on a single platform and make that your strategy at the outset? That way, instead of playing the pragmatism game, you can play the opportunism game.

The most valuable resource you have is effort. Everything you do needs to be measured against what else you could spend that effort doing. In many cases, cross platform development is an incremental benefit that can wait until later.

I’ve Left Zynga

26th November, 2012 • 1 year ago •

For me, the Wonderland Software/Zynga UK adventure has come to an end. Earlier this month I awoke to the exciting realisation that, after almost three and a half years, I had left that chapter behind and could look ahead to the future.

It’s been quite a ride. I wish all the best for the good & talented people who I leave behind.

I’ve now got some catching up to do - life, exercise, a huge Instapaper queue - whilst I figure out what moves to make in 2013.

Just as when we started Wonderland back in June 2009, I’m still tremendously excited by the revolution in computing that is happening right now. The opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurism are even better now than they were then. And having learned so much from the journey I’ve just been on, I can’t wait to use that knowledge to do new things in the future - and of course learn a whole load more.

In the meantime, I’ve created this site to give me an outlet for thoughts & contributions that I’ve been unable to express up until now. An opportunity to connect to friends, old and new, who share my love for the technology industry, the excitement of startups, and the passion of making games. I’ll be writing long-form posts on a regular basis, and linking & commenting on interesting stories as they happen.

Say hello on Twitter, it’d be great to hear from you.