Toys story: Pixel Toys’ Andy Wafer on making the move to mobile

Between them, Alex Zoro and Andy Wafer have an impressive CV.

Zoro began his career at Rare, before co-founding DJ Hero studio Freestyle Games in 2002. Wafer, meanwhile, started off at Codemasters before moving over to Freestyle, where he did digital and online work for Activision in the UK.

The duo left Freestyle in 2012 and set up indie studio Pixel Toys, where they began to work on mobile games.

On mobile, we can deliver something to a really big global audience,” Wafer says.

We were really impressed by the quality of the hardware. This was back in 2012, just after the iPhone 4S had come out and the iPhone 5 had just been announced. We started to see the potential of making high quality entertainment on these portable devices that people could carry everywhere.

Being able to create stuff for that huge market was really appealing. One of the reasons I got into games was to make entertainment – and if you make entertainment you want people to enjoy it, and reach that audience.

Since then, smartphones and tablets have come along significantly in the last couple of years. What we are able to do now is even more exciting.”

The firm’s first release was 3DS title Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo, followed by mobile hit Gun Finger. It’s now working on Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade, a shooter set in the intense sci-fi universe that boasts over 40 single-player missions and daily online events.

The title was the first game demonstrated on the new iPhone 6S by Apple following the device’s reveal last month.

"It’s hard to see the value of publishers in the digital space."

Andy Wafer, Pixel Toys

There are a huge number of titles based on the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 IP in the works,
including Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer and Rodeo Games’ Deathwatch.

What we are doing is very different to a lot of the other Warhammer games,” he says. It’s one of those rich IPs where there’s so much different content and so many different settings. It was great to be able to draw on that richness and build our game.

Our game uses a part of the IP that hasn’t been explored before. Those things combined means that we are offering something that’s very unique. With the depth that the IP has to offer, we’re not concerned that it’s going to be fatigued in some way.

Our interest comes from people in the company loving Games Workshop products. We want people to be working on something they are passionate about. We get much better results from people in that kind of environment than if they’re working on something they don’t care about.”

Pixel Toys has turned to Creative England for funding. This, combined with Wafer’s experience working in product and brand management, has meant that the developer hasn’t had to turn to a publisher for anything other than ports.

It’s hard to see the value of publishers in the digital space,” he explains. For the iOS release of Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade we felt we could do it ourselves. My background is in publishing. I spent seven or eight years at Codemasters doing brand publishing, so I understood the market a bit, which gave us a bit of an advantage in that respect.

The way the market is set up in the App Store enables you to self-publish if you are really interested in doing that. It might not be for everybody, but it’s certainly something that’s viable for us. It allows us to directly interact with our customers, which I think is also important when you are trying to run a game as a service.

You don’t necessarily want to have that middle man there – you want to be able to have that direct relationship so you can receive feedback. You can adapt to it and keep customers happy, and keep in touch with what they want.”

Interface takes place on November 12th at St Mary’s Church. Indie devs can bring their projects along to pitch to the likes of Execution Labs, Channel 4’s All 4 Games and 505 Games.

You can book tickets to the event here, and find out more

A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Jennie Lane atjlane@nbmedia.comor Charlotte Nangle, or call them on 01992 535 647, to find out more.

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