Simon Bland in Games


Interview: Andy Wafer, CEO Pixel Toys

Andy Wafer is the CEO of games development company Pixel Toys. His team were funded through our Greenshoots programme which allowed developers to work with Microsoft to create a brand new title for their online marketplace. 

Pixel Toys' product was Gunfinger, an action packed zombie shoot-em-up which invites you to use your finger to off the undead in true arcade style. 

Andy and his team will be helping us celebrate our third anniversary at next week's Creative England Live event in London but before then we caught up with him to discuss the formation of his company and game and get his tips on launching your own title in today's crowded marketplace...

Can you talk us through how Pixel Toys formed?

We were inspired by the technical evolution of smartphones, they’d reached a point where it was possible to create rich gaming experiences on mobile which we could distribute with relative ease to millions of players around the world.

You’ve worked for companies such as Codemasters and Activision - what did you learn from these bigger companies that helped you when creating your own?

The importance of planning projects well, from the initial design of the game to the marketing and live support.

In your opinion, what’s the key to running a successful games start-up?

Finding and working with the right people. The company is the people, and as we’ve grown they’ve defined our culture and processes.

How would you describe your game Gunfinger?

Gunfinger is a zombie action shooter, where you tap to shoot because your finger is the gun.

What were the main inspirations behind the game?

The game concept came from my business partner Alex, he’s always suggested he got the ideal from old ‘Whack a Mole’ arcade games, where you have to hit a toy mole with a plastic hammer. Gunfinger is a bit like that, except it’s zombies, not moles, and you’re using your finger, not a hammer!

What challenges did you face creating a game for the mobile market and how did you overcome them?

Game development is always challenging, one of the biggest differences in mobile is designing around the touch screen rather than a game controller or keyboard and mouse. We spent quite a bit of time prototyping how our action shooting gameplay would work, as well as getting people to play test it and provide feedback before we started full production.

What advice would you give to emerging game studios hoping to launch their first mobile game?

It’s a competitive market, if you’re publishing the game yourself make sure you have a solid marketing and PR plan. Your plan needs to reach your audience effectively and inform them clearly as to why they’ll want to play your game.

How did you get involved with Creative England’s Greenshoots programme?

We saw an article for on industry website following the announcement of the programme, the initial application was pretty simple so we applied then and there.

What did the funding and support provided by Creative England and Microsoft allow you to achieve?

The funding allowed us to accelerate our plans and commit to hiring some key people for the project and make important hardware purchases. The support we received from Microsoft was invaluable to delving the project on Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and the learnings from that continue to benefit us on other projects we’re working on too.

What do you have planned for 2015?

We’ve already got out next game in pre-production, it’s even more ambitious than Gunfinger and due for release this summer, so we’re hoping 2015 is going to be another big year for us.

To learn more about Pixel Toys visit their website.

Andy and the Pixel Toys team will be attending our Creative England Live event in London on January 20th. To keep up to date with the latest event news follow us on twitter using the hashtag #CELive2015.

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