Today's update from GDC San Francisco has news from the companies at the conference.
On day 3, the floor at GDC opened up to attendees and the first Ukie meet and greet was held. Here is what they have to say about their experience...
Yesterday saw the opening of the Expo floor at GDC. I had initially planned to spend half a day there, doing the rounds and arranging meetings, but the monolithic scale of the event saw me working through it right up until late afternoon. A big take away I got from this year's expo floor is the focus on VR. The VR market is seeing continued growth, and a lot of people continue to put money towards this tech in the hopes of it being the next big thing. When you have companies like Valve, Facebook and Sony leading the charge, it seems like it could be a fair bet.
During the afternoon I linked up with the other Games Lab attendees at a Ukie event that was absolutely invaluable for meeting the right sort of people. The Ukie event connect lawyers dealing with UK tax breaks with Northern Irish investment funds, middleware audio solutions with Chinese publishers, online store front providers with other developers and much more.
Dave Costello - Pixel Blast
This morning was filled with a very interesting conference/panel called MORE, led by Dean Takahashi of Gamesbeat. It was focussed on retention and engagement and included speakers/panellists from Space Ape, Gree, TinyCo and several others. I found it very informative and relevant for our future game considerations. It is impressive the scale and breadth the larger mobile game companies are going to with customer engagement and retention and all clearly reflected that they respect all their players.
I also met Roadhouse Interactive and Imaginarium studios which was ad hoc but thoroughly useful. A quick chat with Agostino Simonetta from Xbox, who dedicated some time to meet with the Creative England crew. Also met David Amor, from Delinquent who is always so open in sharing his experiences in putting together a mobile/f2p studio.
Finally a great Ukie/UKTI event at the British embassy, with a great mix of old and new people to meet and chat to. The event showed how fantastically varied the British games industry is and how passionate the people are that are involved and supporting it.
Yesterday I had several meetings including one with Nintendo where I met some of their US and European staff, and discussed how we could work together in the future. That kind of meeting is essential for us to understand what they are looking for and what they expect in a partnership, and I left with a much better understanding of our commonalities and when and how to successfully approach them with a proposal in the future. I also met with a UK publisher and a South American distributor.
In the evening I attended the Ukie event at the British Consulate, where I met some incredible people that I plan to follow up with when back in the UK. Later I attended the Steam party which was invite-only and packed with Steam publishers and industry professionals. After a few free drinks I stopped working and enjoyed the Glitch Mob.
The main part of GDC opened up with a "Flash Forward" presentation in the big ballroom, where a host of speakers from the rest of the week essentially made a one minute pitch for their talks. It was fast-paced, witty, fun, and really useful for giving an idea of what was happening at the conference overall, as well as providing a great opportunity to see which talks were going to be interesting. It was a great format, so I hope they do it again in future.
The expo opened this morning as well, and bigger than ever, so much of the rest of my morning was spent taking in what was on offer, playing new games, and trying to avoid being collared by mobile game middleware providers! I caught up with some of the nice folk from Unity, had a meeting with Microsoft, and managed to exchange the use of my Powerbank for secret Oculus VR information over lunch.
Perhaps the highlight of my day at the show was visiting the alt-ctrl-GDC section of the expo, a collection of games with custom controllers and interfaces - to say that they are eclectic is a massive understatement, and it would spoil the surprise to mention too many of them, but special mention to Jerry Belich's A.F.T.E.R.G.L.O.W, which uses an old rotary phone controller to create a tactile and evocative lo-fi Tempest game. I would implore anyone who is at the show to go along and check all the games out as they are wonderful and funny and inspiring.
The evening was spent trying (and seemingly failing) to drink dry the British Consulate at a party for (primarily) British attendees of the conference, organised by Ukie and UKTI, dinner, and then going to the Wild Rumpus/Venus Patrol party - a heady mixture of pop-music, chip tunes, art-games, zines, and GangBeasts. I don't know how the hipsters who go to these sort of things would normally describe it, but I thought it was both "wicked" and "fresh".
Big crowds were gathering in the north and south halls today waiting for the doors to open to the expo floor at 10:00am. There was a lot to see and I was paying particular attention to the up and coming indie games on show. I met some fantastic developers and had some great discussions, everyone had different experiences of how they monetized their first production, some more successful than others. It was reassuring to see lots of people having successfully tackled similar development issues to those Slug Disco are facing now. I also learned how different start-ups dealt with working in a team, all with their own individual concepts and opinions. I look forward to seeing how many of the games I checked out will be released on time and how successful they become.
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