We’ve been covering the Pocket Gamer Connects events for years now. They are an excellent way to network and discover upcoming trends in the industry. The next event in the series is coming up on May 16-17, 2023 in Seattle, so we had to speak to the team on why Pocket Gamer Connects is a great place to connect and do game business. Here is what they had to say!
Events for Gamers: What are Pocket Gamer Connects events all about? Do they include new industry trends like Web3 or even Blockchain interest?
Pocket Gamer Connects: Pocket Gamer Connects events are international conferences for the global games industry. The events are inclusive and cater to a wide range of industry players, from global corporations to indie developers seeking inspiration and new contacts. The conferences focus on numerous angles: global game publishing strategies, the process of game-making, and investment. We’ve hosted conferences in this series worldwide, from Canada to Hong Kong and from Helsinki to the Middle East.
Pocket Gamer Connects events have a genuinely international client base, with delegates from over 50 countries attending each event. The events unite delegates from across the entire ecosystem, covering all key formats from mobile, PC, and console to XR and blockchain technologies. The events comprise networking opportunities and knowledge-sharing sessions on stage, focusing on connecting attendees with the right people in the industry.
Topics on stage cover everything from creativity through production to sustainability, touching on the most exciting markets and hottest topics, including global trends, disruptive tech and brand marketing. The PG Connects series has established a reputation as a must-attend conference if you want to meet the most exciting game makers, developers, and publishers, as well as some of the world’s top investors, tools providers, platform owners, and more.
Why are the words ‘Pocket Gamer’ in the name? Do they hint at a mobile focus, or just tiny gamers in pockets ;)?
I love the idea that we are a crew of pocket-sized gamers! But the brand name comes from our first site, which is still at the centre of our content strategy.
Pocket Gamer was the first website dedicated to the mobile gaming scene, launched by us back in 2006. That was even before the iPhone App Store came along, so you can imagine the kind of games it reviewed on day one. The site was ahead of its time, and mobile games are now the most prominent sector in the games industry overall. Our Pocket Gamer brand is still the longest-running and most trusted suite of sites and activities in the mobile games space.
It now includes a consumer site, a YouTube channel, a b2b trade site, dedicated annual awards, and of course, a series of conferences. These days, the PG Connects events cover all formats from PC and VR to AI and web3. We’re the publishers of PCGamesInsider.biz and BlockchainGamer.biz after all. But mobile remains at the heart of what we do.
One of Pocket Gamer Connects’ key attributes is connecting attendees with other industry leaders. What core industry groups are present at the shows?
One of the things I love about PG events is that they unite the whole ecosystem. Unlike some conferences or summits, which are explicitly aimed at director-level leaders, or workshops aimed at programmers, or festivals aimed at students, a PG Connects conference brings everybody together. At a PG Connects conference, CEOs from the biggest firms will rub shoulders with indie game artists. Everybody is welcome. The talks and panels on stage include many businessfolk, designers, marketing experts, video creators and more. We have networking sessions for investors and our indie pitch competition, where first-timers are very welcome. We call it our games industry family.
Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle is coming up on May 16-17, 2023. Who’s speaking at the show potential attendees should know about?
All our events feature a range of speakers from across the industry and different disciplines. Our talks are always short and sharp, so there will always be a lot of people to see on stage! We also include longer panels where a few industry insiders can go more in-depth. We already have about 80 experts signed up and ready to talk at PGC Seattle.
You’ll discover Kathy Shin from Activision Blizzard King, Jon Radoff from Beamable, Leanne Loombe from Netflix Games and Matt Sharpe from Zynga, all significant companies in this space. We’ll welcome back Tim Cullings from Global Game Jam and Seattle Indies. Jason and Serena Robar from Author Digital will be there again, Carol Miu from PeopleFun, John Ozimek from Big Games Machine in the UK, and Josh Nilson from Eastside Games in Canada. Plus, there’s expert business insider Ed Fries from 1Up Ventures and speakers from investment firms CV Capital and The Games Fund. It’s going to be a great mix.
You dub this year’s Seattle event as the “AI Edition”. What Artificial Intelligence news is on the agenda?
Artificial intelligence – particularly the generative machine-learning models from the likes of OpenAI – has dominated the news cycle recently.
At PG Connects in London in January, it seemed like every panel got distracted talking about how AI would change the industry (for better or worse)! And we also had some great speakers working directly in the space, like Ludo.ai and Charisma.ai. At GDC, every informal conversation in one of the bars around the Moscone Center seemed to turn to the impact of AI at some point.
So we decided to let people know it’s a welcome topic at PG Connects Seattle. All the usual topics will still be there. We’ve got tracks dedicated to mobile marketing and building blockchain games and global games industry trends… But we’re also seeking out local studios doing exciting things with AI, and we are ringfencing time during the conference for them to share knowledge and ideas.
One of the things we’re doing new this year is putting space aside for Roundtables – these are discussion areas where the audience is invited to ask questions and share insight, distinct from the usual panels. And we’ll be using that Roundtable concept to discuss professional, ethical and creative ideas around the current state of AI.
Often events will have a series of “mini-events” built within. For instance, conferences like GDC have meetup groups. What else will the Seattle event hold?
We build in a range of side and “fringe” activities too:
Investor Connector: We have a special round of curated meetings introducing investors to developers/publishers in a series of quick speed-dating-style meetings.
Publisher SpeedMatch: Hand-picked introductions where developers meet publishers in a series of speed-dating-style curated meetings one afternoon.
The Big Indie Zone: There’s always a dedicated expo area with tables for indie game developers to show their wares to other attendees. There’ll be 20 tables in PGC Seattle.
The Very Big Indie Pitch: Indie developers are invited to pitch their in-progress projects to a panel of experts for instant feedback and a chance to win prizes.
Careers Zone: PGC Seattle will feature a day’s recruitment fair – companies with open jobs and jobseekers looking for work will mingle in a dedicated area.
There’ll be Roundtables for structured discussion throughout the event. Everyone gets free access to the MeetToMatch platform, enabling them to schedule meetings with other attendees.
Plus, of course, there’ll be a big party for all on the event’s first night – great for informal networking!
What are all the events coming up after the Seattle event concludes?
We have a lot of activity on the plan for this year. I think it’s going to be our busiest-ever year. As always, we’re thinking internationally. We have:
PG Connects Dubai (June 21-22)
PG Connects Toronto (July 19-20)
We’ll be running activities, including the Top 50 Mobile Game Makers 2023, alongside Gamescom in Cologne in August.
PG Connects Helsinki (September 12-13)
And then we’ll be revisiting Jordan in November – still being planned – and, of course, other webinars, mixers, summits and awards both in person and online throughout the year.
For college students and others looking to get into the game industry, are there any volunteer opportunities they can sign up for at the shows?
One hundred percent. We love volunteers! It’s a great way to get involved. You can be part of the team, be at the heart of a busy event, and, what’s more, gain access to all the activities, including networking with industry bigwigs, in return for helping us out on reception and in the track rooms for some of the time. (Volunteers walk away with a Pocket Gamer tour t-shirt from most of our events too, I think.) Sign up here for more details.
Where can interested attendees or followers of Pocket Gamer Connects go to keep updated on future event news (aside from Events for Gamers of course ;))?
We have a weekly events digest newsletter called the Industry Events Update, a great way to get games industry event news in your inbox.
You can sign up here:
We recommend you bookmark PocketGamer.biz for all the best games industry news, updated about ten times a day, and includes an events section. Plus, we have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles where you can follow us too:
What is important to remember about PG Connects conferences is that we also run media websites. So all our events are a chance to meet games journalists. We publish extension coverage from our events, including interviews with sponsors, celebrations of the leading indie games on display and more.
By the way – we also host awards, like the Mobile Games Awards (taking place in London on April 20th) and the Top 50 Mobile Games Makers List (revealed live in Cologne in August)!
Thanks for the opportunity to chat, and we look forward to seeing you at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle!