I woke up early this morning along with the other Gamesauce Challenge winners taking the train to make sure that we all arrived at time for the opening ceremonies. We did not stop to grab breakfast however the conference center had delicious pastries that filled my stomach well. The ceremonies launched with a talk by Heiko Hubertz, the Founder and Managing Directior of Big Point, on “2011 and Beyond: The Future of Games”. There were some interesting statistics that were presented. The amount of total hours that users play online casual game equate to 46,000 years per month and over 900 million dollars are spent on those games. He classified the next stage of casual games as Gaming 3.0. This includes: people play everywhere, every time and everyone is included. People can have fun anytime they want, anything is possible and games will always be active. Mobile development is growing rapidly with over 4.6 billion has a mobile subscription and 13,000 new apps are submitted every month with 30% of them being games. 3D stereoscopic games ecpected to be the norm by 2014 with 43% of all content will be 3D. Unity is huge with 250,000+ developer support and 35 million already have Unity installed with their browser and now there is a plug-less version of it.
Usability is becoming key to success. An innovative user interface is important especially when a game is distributed over multiple platform an that the experience is not diluted between them. A social layer is important to have as it allows players to invite people to their friends list, check out their social ranking, see their activity stream, gifting games, and sending messages. Games are becoming more like services. Some examples Hubertz gave are onlive and gaikai where games are streamed and no one is “owning” your game. Monetization in games are maturing. Currently some are subscription based,microtransaction and in-game advertisement. He used Obama presidential campaign as an example where Obama had many advertisements in games. Nivea also had a campaign where it combined its product of hair growth with a soccer game. They saws sales increase. Google TV will have an impact in the future where game will be played on the TV with out a separate device. He ended with saying that tablet PC will become big (as iPad as proven) and will be the next platform that causal games will be on.
The next talk that I went to is titled “Global Online Game Market Trends: Times, Hey are’a changing?” This session focused on a lot on the business side of the gaming industry. Germany is one of the biggest european market for electronic games with a quarter of it expected to be online games. Free to Play (F2P) is booming all over the world with Germany being the biggest supplier of F2P games. The next area for games to grow is the CIVETS market. This comprise of Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. It is estimated the emerging markets is going 3 times faster than developed markets and their GDP growth at an annual rate at least %4.5 in the next 20 years with a diverse economy and growing population. Egypt was the main topic of conversation as it is linked by FLAG (Fiber optic Link around the Globe) and being the 27th largest economy in the world. %80 of Egypt owns mobile phones and most people access the internet using only their phones which leads to pre pay gaming cards or SMS (ie Cash U) to purchase items in games. This talk was interesting to me as it involved looking at what companies are seeing when they are releasing a games. Emerging markets is a place to be in selling and distributing games.
The following talk was an interesting one. “The Flight of Angry Birds: Creating Mobile Bestseller” was presented by Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio. The company been making games since 2003. Vesterbacka emphasize that good games matter as the need to create a great experience. People who play “Angry Birds” love the characters and that the inclusion of the slingshot changed the game. There are a lot of back story to the game with enriching characters (like the big birds) that really connect with the player and that the player wants to find out more about. He wants games to be in the same league as TV on the amount of hours spent per user. Rovio has been getting a lot of fan mail and many of the fans have created costumes, models and clothing based on “Angry Birds”. Because of this, they now have Angry Bird’s seasonal content as it doubled the users engagement. The use of event calendar encourage the player to play the game every day to see new content. Users can send valentines and they have began to integrate Facebook. Merchandising is a huge part of their business as it is turning into an entertainment powerhouse. Players can buy the toys directly in the game and it increase traffic. An interesting thing is that Angry Birds only has one game item for purchase, the mighty eagle. They make is better with each update and it is not a disposable item so it provides value for the player. Now there is an Angry Brids movie that is created buy the guys who animated “Ice Age”. They try all sorts of business models to stay successful. Vesterbacka is making sure the team is committed to the brand and that it is not diluted and misused. Rovio is constantly working with the community to make the game better and that people creating the experience outside the game is real social gaming. This was definitely a cool talk about one of the most popular mobile game on the market and on how to take care of an IP. I will take what I learned from this to my own IP. Now off to lunch. Part 2 will contain the 2 set of the day! : )