This year, the Edinburgh Interactive festival celebrates its 10th anniversary. Until 2006 it was known as the Edinburgh International Games Festival; the name change signalled a widening of the event's focus which, in hindsight, was most timely. It now covers anything and everything that can be classified as interactive entertainment; last year's festival, chaired by Nintendo's UK MD David Yarnton, touched on gaming technology, gamification, smart TVs and educational reform.
One of the first sessions announced for this year's festival is Getting Above The Noise, a roundtable discussion focusing on the role that user metrics, analytics tools and bespoke platforms can have on a mobile app's chance of success. Each of the four participants has a unique approach to helping apps stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Richard Firminger, European MD of Flurry, will explain how the company's analytics tools – which are used by over 65,000 companies on all major mobile platforms – help devs understand "how consumers are using their apps, what existing behavioural trends mean for app usage in the future, and how developers and publishers are getting the best out of apps" to drive user retention and revenue.
Tapjoy, meanwhile, focuses on new user acquisition, combining existing app usage and friends' tastes to deliver customised app recommendations. Last year it launched its own publishing platform, aimed at helping small developers add virtual currency and analytics mechanisms to iOS, Android and Facebook apps.
Paul Bowen, VP and GM of the company’s European wing, tells us he will share "the ways in which developers can acquire new users, free tips and techniques devs can build into their games to ensure they're making use of viral and social channels, and the most effective ways to pay to acquire users."
Cloudmade, founded in 2007, focuses on location-based services – not just in mobile apps, but satnav devices and fitness products as well. Christian O Petersen, VP of community, manages relationships with almost 24,000 developers, and will focus on a new approach to advertising in free mobile apps. One of the biggest problems with the established freemium model, he says, is that developers rely on banner advertising, which users don't like.
"We have talked with leading game publishers and developers, and they clearly want an alternative to banners," he says. "When we asked large retail brands about their needs, they focused on driving traffic, location awareness and revenue.
"The solution is to have retail brands sponsor in-game items when consumers visit their stores. This emerging business model promises to become one of the three major revenue sources for developers and publishers."
The panel's final participant is Kyoko Matsushita, European business development and developer relations lead at Gree, one of the biggest mobile social gaming companies in Japan; last year it made almost $800 million in revenue. The company is preparing for the launch of a new, global platform, incorporating the best features of its Japanese service and OpenFeint, the US mobile gaming network that Gree acquired for $104 million last year. We'll have more on Gree's impending global launch in the coming weeks.
Edinburgh Interactive runs from August 9 to 10, with a free public day on August 11, at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Standard passes are available for £229 plus VAT, with discounts for students and Scottish developers. For more details, visit the event's website.