Conference content was programmed by a set of industry advisors.
Emcee: Aaron Walz, Managing Partner, Game Audio Alliance
Can you fondly hum the tunes to your favorite games? Have you ever felt like part of the action because of awesome sound effects? Have you thought you are watching a movie while listening to excellent voiceovers? Audio presents a major opportunity to make a good game a great one. Audio professionals, aspiring professionals, and game developers alike will learn a lot by attending sessions at the 5th Annual Casual Connect Audio Track.
Emcees: Jon Silver, Senior Producer, Scientific Learning
Alison BRYANT, Founder & President, PlayScience
Emcee: Chris Early, VP Digital Publishing, Ubisoft
It’s easy to get lost in hype of “what’s new” in the casual gaming world, because NEW is FUN! But if you’re going to make a living at it as well, then there are some important things you need to stay abreast of. What are the trends and where are the more traditional models headed? You’ll need a strategy if you’re planning to ride the wave, not get buried in it. Veterans of the space will analyze the current market and provide key information on surviving and thriving in an ever-evolving industry.
Join Nick Thomas, co-founder of SomaTone Interactive Inc., for an in-depth look at the transforming casual games industry, and what make these games sound great. Casual games continue to be the largest growing segment of the gaming industry, with tens of millions of gamers logging on daily to play social, mobile, and downloadable games. Understanding the requirements, limitations, and creative needs of today's casual and social games is paramount to successfully providing Music, SFX, and Voice-Over for these abundant games.
Join Big Fish Founder and CEO, Paul Thelen, for a revealing look at the rapidly changing games industry and the profound implications for everyone involved. Technology disruptions, platform proliferation and changing consumer expectations present both a threat and an opportunity today, and presage an "adapt or fade-away to obscurity" ultimatum. What does a purely mobile world do to your current business strategy or to what the definition of a game is? How does a Games-as-a-Service paradigm that cloud gaming enables, expand consumer options and change their expectations for how games are discovered and played? Can marketing be effective in an increasingly "ADHD world" of exploding consumer options, where lifetime value is measured in days not years? Cutting through the noise, Paul will lay out the current state of the industry and his vision of how this market plays out in the coming years.
Habbo Hotel’s parent company Sulake is a master in reaching a teenage audience, and 10 million unique users currently visit the service each month. Sulake recently opened the online platform to 3rd party developers. CEO Paul LaFontaine talks about the critical lessons learned from moving the teen audience across different platforms and working with 3rd party developers.
It’s a great time to be making games, it’s a great time to be a game player, and the hottest sector of the game business mobile. Why? Phones have small screens, no direct hardware access and are generally snubbed by serious game players. The answer is that smart phones are the first truly mass market device that is captivated by games. Soon mobiles will surpass PC’s and TVs as the most prolific device on the planet. Game makers will have unprecedented and almost unimaginable reach to billions of people. Everywhere. All the time. That is a true game changer. Understanding why and how it will happen will inform us all about using that power to elevate our craft and shape the future of gaming.
Audio has a special place in the gaming world. With proper attention to audio atmosphere, a game's success can greatly improve. This session by Dmitry Kuzmenko and William Bucknum of Strategic Music, a leading studio responsible for making audio atmospheres for over 350 games, will take you through the process of understanding how to use audio to make a brand ffor your game and studio. Using this process will not only help the playability and interest of the game, but the marketing and strategic planning of the game as well. The gaming industry is too competitive to ignore anything which can give your game a competitive edge (esp. considering how relatively cheap audio is); so don't miss this chance to learn about best practices for using audio to make your game 'Cool' and stand out from the crowd. Music, voice-overs and sound design will be discussed.
More than half of tween girls in the U.S. are playing online games. So, why aren't they playing yours? Developers need to take the time understand this lucrative demographic, what makes them tick and the unique set of challenges they face online (hello age restrictions, content that simply isn’t designed for them and parental monitoring!). The stakes - and the payoff - are high, and in this session Spil Games’ Game Development Director, Peter Hofstede, will expose the secret world of tween girl gaming. He'll explore best practices and share insights on:
Do’s and dont's for girl game designers
Assessing popular gameplay genres and mechanics, pulling from real examples from platforms and developers that have successfully reached the tween girl demographic
Looking to the future, understanding the necessary steps to reach the next level in this market
This session will kick off with a year in review and then will focus on predicting the next several years of social games. Who will be the winners and losers? What will the market dynamics be like and how will the games themselves look? Matt will walk through the next stage of industry evolution pulling from historical examples such as the game console industry and many more.
Digital goods and virtual currencies are now the defacto business model for most of the worlds most successful games. FlowPlay has taken this a step further by creating the concept of digital collectibles -- virtual items that are one part cosmetic, one part game play advantage and one part financial investment for the player. Derrick Morton, FlowPlay's CEO, will take you through their business to demonstrate what drives the sales of these items and how they created a multimillion dollar business around them.
Hundreds of millions of people play social games with their friends cross-platform and on the go. Facebook has become a next-generation games platform and connects people across devices and around the world. Join Sara Brooks, Facebook Partnership Manager, to discuss how the most successful game developers use Facebook to build web and mobile games. In this presentation, Sara will also share which new game categories are taking off, and how you can build and discover the next big genres.
This session is structured to be useful for game audio pros, amateurs, and everyone in between. Work experience and the success, discovery and errors it brings are informative and useful tools. After writing and producing music since 1997 for close to 100 mobile, social and casual games, game composer and sound designer, Aaron Walz, has learned a few lessons and would like to share some of them. Perhaps some of them will make you nod and smile, or serve as reminders, or perhaps you will have an “aha” moment or two. Upon receiving a lot of emails with subjects like “how do I get into the field” and “please listen to my demos and provide feedback,” more insights have been gleaned and will be shared. Production and Composition will also be covered.
What happens when learning is approached through the lens of play? Microsoft's 2 way TV technology harnesses uses the power of Kinect to make learning with games and TV more accessible, immersive, and truly interactive. These experiences are changing the dimensions between TV and viewer – and possibly between entertainment and education. See how informal learning is being reshaped as this technology redefines the relationships children have with media such as TV shows, books, and games.
You’re missing your games’ true earnings potential by a long-shot if you have no advertising strategy or are relying on ordinary banner ads. Premium advertising that engages players will reap you greater brand loyalty and revenues because your players are more likely to get involved with relevant, quality advertising. Why settle for ineffectual in-game advertising “tonnage?” Bump up your earnings, engage your customers and make sure a full half of your overall dollars are coming from advertising.
Communication between developer and external audio team has never been more important. This discussion will highlight the materials needed to properly execute a project, our process as audio designers, why it’s important for the developer to understand this, and how we can improve the audio experience. The panel features a cross-section of audio designers, all with a unique perspective on interfacing with the developer.
The opportunity to engage children with technology-based learning content has changed more in the last two years than possibly the previous twenty. Not only have mobile and tablets become a big part of how kids consume content, there's also been an explosion in learning games, virtual worlds, and edtech startups. What are the new opportunities for the techno entrepreneur? Where is the helpful data to guide us? In this presentation, edtech prognosticator Scott Traylor will share thoughts and trends about this new and fast moving space.
For the past 30 years video games have been making steady progress from a relatively niche medium to a broadly-appealing, mainstream entertainment pastime. It seemed an impossible journey, but for Jim Veevaert, GM of Zynga Seattle, it was never a question of "if" but rather "when". Jim shares his thoughts on how our industry can solidify our role as entertainers in the daily lives of people across the globe.
Educational games can be powerful learning tools. Based on new research conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and BrainPOP, this presentation will highlight teachers’ candid attitudes and beliefs about the future of games in the classroom and what types of games are on their wishlist of educational tools.
For generations, the advertising business has been about two things: reach and frequency. In other words, How many people can I interrupt how many times? But all that is changing. Social game developers intuitively understand something that Madison Avenue has yet to learn: the power has shifted, and users will no longer tolerate incessant interruptions.
Opt-in advertising programs on social games reward users for their participation with virtual goods and currency. This has resulted in a new advertising model that generates millions of opt-in ad interactions, astronomical completion rates, engagement rates, and earned media actions. The model is so powerful that it is now expanding out of social games and into music sites, newspaper sites, and other platforms.
Jun Group co-founder Corey Weiner, a veteran of hundreds of social video campaigns for Fortune 500 brands, will explain the finer points of social advertising. He'll break down the financial models, for publishers and for advertisers, and he'll provide real-world examples of major brands who are successfully using social games to reach their customers.
This session will dig into the nuts and bolts of audio and music licensing for independent and AAA titles as well as mobile applications. The discussion will include insights on licensing for composers, independent contractors, and other musicians and audio providers in the game space as to licensing options in the digital marketplace. This will include a run-down of traditional licensing models for sync licenses, work for hire agreements, and music distribution in the digital and retail marketplaces after a game's launch. We'll cover best practices in music licensing in the digital age with a focus on independent developers.
The top children’s apps are dominated by eBooks with embedded games and activities, including big names like Mickey’s Spooky Night Puzzle Book (Disney), What Was I Scared Of (Dr. Seuss), The Monster at the End of This Book (Sesame Street). In order to compete with all these apps and classic characters, developers need to create rock-solid apps that are easy to use, cognitively, physically, and educationally.
Attendees will experience a primer in children’s interactive story development and game design so they understand how to address children’s unique set of cognitive and physical challenges presented on smartphones and tablets. Attendees will be equipped with a foundation of knowledge and resources that can be easily incorporated into their own interactive development projects.
In 2011, there were more than 500,000 smartphones sold worldwide, and 70M tablets sold, a +260% jump from 2010. As price-points lower for devices, content becomes richer, and payment systems more integrated, a wider, more addressable audience emerges. This is particularly the case for games, the most popular mobile app category. And over 50 percent of smartphone app users are connected to Facebook on their mobiles, a neon sign for social games companies to see the potential for multi-platform development.
The marketing tactics you use to promote your games to adults, teens and kids need to be different. Most companies rely on the web for people to discover their games, but this is not the best way to reach kids. Learn how you can tap into an audience of millions of kids through brick & mortar establishments.
Casting voices for your game should be easy. And it can be. Ken Boynton has been a voice talent on games going back to earliest days of Microsoft Golf through the popular HALO series. He'll share a few stories of voicing in the trenches and some ideas to make it easier on you to find the right voice at the right price.
Games have always had a history in family fun, we but often think about parents and kids as different audiences in the casual gaming space. The reality, however, is that parents and kids want to play together, and family-engaging games provide higher perceived value for the purse-string holders (and therefore greater potential profit) . In this session, we will discuss the latest research on family gaming and the potential casual marketplace across platforms; provide core design principles of developing with both kids and parents (and grandparents) in mind; and discuss key areas that are ripe for development in the family casual gaming space.
Zynga’s Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary will speak about the importance of attracting and retaining talent. Topics include building a company where people can build a real career, uniting the employee base through core values and connecting the world through games.
National Geographic Animal Jam burst on the children's media scene last year as the result of a unique partnership between a videogame studio recovering from console addiction and one of the world's most venerable and respected media brands. Now in its second year of operation, and with over 5 million kids engaged worldwide, the online playground for animal avatars continues to grow at an accelerating rate and is expanding into other media. Hear how the creators of Animal Jam crossed the ocean of funding perils, traversed towering barriers to entry, and battled their nemesis Captain Toothpaste... as they strove to create an online community that kids and parents would both accept as "entertainment with substance."
Mobile devices and social networks are now the dominant platforms for casual gaming. However, there are several important differences in the way players interact with them, influencing game design and business considerations. And while games that successfully address both platforms, such as PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz, have emerged, cross-platform mobile/social convergence is still in its infancy and has the potential to dramatically change the games industry. This talk will provide an overview of the key differences between mobile and social games, touch on some lessons learned through the operations of Bejeweled Blitz, and paint a view of how cross-platform games could expand and redefine the boundaries of gaming.
You’ve studied hard and now you’ve got the skills as an audio designer, but how do you get your foot in the door of a game studio? What are game developers looking for and what might they be trying to avoid? Are passion and great audio chops enough in the ever-changing world of game development? Our panel will discuss these questions and more. The panel includes Audio Directors from DoubleDown Interactive and Kabam, as well as educators from the Art Institute of Seattle and International Academy of Design and Technology of Orlando, Florida.
Aspiring audio designers will learn about how actual in-house audio designers interact with the development team on a daily basis and as a result, gain a clearer picture of what attributes will increase their odds of getting hired.
Forecasted to total $2.6 billion in 2012, a growing part of the overall card game market’s revenues are earned on mobile, in browsers, and on consoles. Monthly spending of over $50 a month on collectible card games are almost absurd compared to other social and digital game genres. We will learn more about this old skool category’s brave new adventures in digital, and explore questions including “What’s the secret sauce?” and “How well do collectible card game mechanics translate to a digital environment?” Leading designers will shed some light on how they are formulating a digital strategy for iOS, browser, Facebook and consoles.
DoubleDown Casino, rated 4th best game on Facebook by the guys that run Facebook, built a company (not a studio) and in two years converted it into a $500 million sale. How you view your team—as developers, a studio or a company, will drive who you hire, who you partner with and your potential liquidity event someday. Join Glenn Walcott, President of DoubleDown Interactive, to hear how they were able to stand out in a now super-crowded field of virtual social casinos to become a powerhouse and how they reflect upon their key successes and challenges of entering a new game genre and succeeding.
Games are no longer simply consumer packaged goods, they’re live services. With games constantly growing, evolving and reacting to player behavior and feedback, player’s expectations have been forever changed. And the stakes have never been higher, as designers look to engage gamers for years, not hours. But radical change demands radical change - and developers need to keep pace. Kabam General Manager Haden Blackman will explore this brave new world of development and design, from team structure and technology to community management and monetization.
To become a master designer, you need to break past a slavish devotion of past forms and create vibrant, new experiences. This design talk covers practical techniques for reinventing game genres. The goal is the invention of a unique and highly differentiated customer value proposition that makes both strong business sense and is also deeply creatively fulfilling. We cover designing from the root, reducing design risk, and igniting original franchises. We also cover the pitfalls of design innovation and how to thrive in a highly competitive market.
Making social games that actually have strategy has been a challenging problem. What can be used from traditional games and what has to be morphed to work for social games? How can you make a game where the strategy isn't just "more is better" but is still compatible with social play patterns? How do you balance monetization, retention, virality, fun, and strategy? By using examples from the social and mobile space, this talk will go over a few core design concepts that Dan has formulated as he made his transition from traditional to social games.
If not guns, trolls, and kidnapped princesses, then what? A pink land of smiles and rainbows? (Spoiler: No!) As more and more people are playing games, the CONTENT of games—the style; the world; the deco sets; and, yes, even the hairstyles—is more important than ever before. This panel will pull from developers with backgrounds making AAA, traditional, casual, and social games to talk about what they’ve discovered designing games.
Investing in your most popular IP in an effort to reach as many people by leveraging as many platforms as possible is critical to the long term success of the franchise. Join Neal Sinno, Vice President of Business Development at Arkadium, to hear some of the successes and failures Arkadium experienced when bringing Mahjongg Dimensions franchise from a web playable to the download, social and mobile distribution routes.
Core loops make or break social games. Learn from our years of mistakes and successes in designing core loops. Learn how to design core loops, what makes a great core loop, and how to iterate on your core loop.
This session will focus on the design challenges in making great controls for a specific platform and taking existing titles and redesigning their controls to meet new platform needs. As a case study, the session will look at how we took the hit iOS title Fruit Ninja to other platforms such as PC (Facebook) and Console (Kinect).
Charts, analysis, and theory of what is happening under the hood with F2P massively multiplayer online games. Come check out this breakdown of virtual economies and what sells when you can assume that players are online together for multi-hour sessions with robust economies and rich, synchronous interaction.
Discussion of how Sorority Life, one of Playdom/Disney Interactive's longest-lasting and most popular games on Facebook, tried and sometimes succeeded to use a robust player community to influence game design decisions.
Oxo Good Grips Can Opener. Post-it bookmarks. Toy Story. Gmail. The complete works of Mark Twain.
What do all these things have in common? They are all products their inventors and creators wanted to use, to see, to read.
Software has had a long tradition in the same vein, with programmers scratching their own itch to create influential products such as Linux and the Apache web server, but can successful games really be created from the same impulse?
David Thomson, founder of Ludometrics, refers to this process as “selfish creativity”, and will provide examples of games that have followed this principle and how it can be applied to your company.
The social games market is maturing, but still undergoing large and fascinating upheavals. Over the past year, we've seen the rise of new competitors in the space, the demise of a few others, the meteoric growth of new genres of games, and declines in some older genres. What’s hot and what’s not? What should you expect to see in the coming year? Join two of social gaming’s grizzled veterans, Dave Rohrl (VP of Game Production at Goko) and Steve Meretzky (VP of Game Design at Playdom) as they dive deeply into the most notable social games from the past year (both high profile and hidden gems), the lessons these games teach us, and the trends that they portend.
Emcees: Joseph Lieberman, Founder, VGSmart Marketing
Robert Adams, Sr. Director – Content Management, Oberon Media/I-play
Emcee: Nick Berry, President, DataGenetics
The land of opportunity…the mobile gaming world is blossoming. Smartphone gaming is hot and tablet gaming may be even hotter. Our mobile sessions will sort it all out with an impressive group of industry professionals discussing the trends, the challenges and how to get your game in the hands of millions!
Emcee: David Nixon, Founder & CEO,
Gemini Hive Inc.
The land of opportunity…the mobile gaming world is blossoming. Smartphone gaming is hot and tablet gaming may be even hotter. Our mobile sessions will sort it all out with an impressive group of industry professionals discussing the trends, the challenges and how to get your game in the hands of millions!
Get ready for Research In Motion®'s (RIM®) next generation mobile computing platform that started with the release of the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet last year. In just a few months the first BB10 phones will launch to the excitement of our existing 78M passionate BlackBerry users!
Come and listen to why many developers already consider BB10 the best platform to develop on when going cross platform.
The presentation will also briefly cover: BB10, the opportunity to develop for BlackBerry, what's new on the platform and opportunities to best monetize your games.
Building something fast is, of course, important to get your product or feature to market, but so is investing in well-built technology that stands the test of time. Unfortunately, those two are often mutually exclusive.
This session investigates the trade-offs between the two extremes and the area in between, along with some great real-world examples of how these decisions were made (and their consequences.)
Mobile game developers face fierce competition, both from the industry’s giants, and the robust startups that are emerging. Although there’s room for many companies to succeed, it takes more than one popular game and monetization is key. Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for Storm8, William Siu, will share best practice tips in building a profitable mobile gaming business that can multiply one hit into many.
HipSoft, a leading developer of casual games, was founded in 2002 and has continued to remain small but profitable while still allowing for a family friendly work schedule. This session will give you a brief history of the company, what challenges and benefits were encountered along the way and tips on how to stay independent.
After launching Kindle Fire late last year, Amazon is in a unique position to have a 10,000 foot view of mobile game monetization trajectories and trends. Zooming way out, above the individual and even genre levels, Amazon can see changes and evolutions in player monetization behavior that may be difficult to see when immersed in operation details of a single game or game portfolio. Join Aaron Rubenson, Director of Amazon Appstore for Android, as he shares a broad-spectrum view of game monetization to help developers as they make game design and operation decisions.
Vijay Thakkar, CTO of Zynga With Friends, will take you through the key tools the Zynga With Friends studio uses to create games that inspire and connect their users. Covering a breadth of techniques that goes from leveling up ideas in their infancy to augmenting titles that are already live, this session will provide inspiration and information to anyone creating mobile or social games.
A cutting-edge viral marketing strategy is great, but it will do you no good if your core experience doesn’t have legs to begin with. Using Hidden Variable’s hit grocery-bagging puzzle game Bag It! as a basis, this presentation will discuss techniques you can use on your project today to best create (or leverage) your IP in a fashion that is unique, relatable, and intriguing to both press and customers alike.
As the mobile landscape gets more crowded, getting ROI from your app is increasingly challenging. With limited development and marketing budgets, as well as pressure to deliver products on time, companies need to be smart from product inception through launch and beyond to maximize their ROI. During this session, Nick will address a variety of challenges game publishers face in bringing their apps to market. Topics covered include:
- Lowering development and maintenance costs
- Minimizing costs of user acquisition and retention
- Maximizing user LTV
- Differentiating yourself from the competition
- Evolving efficiently over time
Phil Larsen, CMO at Halfbrick will take you on a journey all the way back to 2009, starting with his very own creation – Barry Steakfries. With humble beginnings, steady growth and creative vision, the Steakfries brand has taken off and is now soaring in Jetpack Joyride, one of the biggest games on the App Store. Phil will discuss the evolution of the franchise, a post-mortem of development, marketing and success, and the ultimate test for Halfbrick – following up Fruit Ninja.
Today, making a great game is only half of the battle. The other half is getting it heard above the noise of all the other games out there. For the big players with millions of dollars in advertising budget the path is clear, but what about the small to mid-size players? This talk will examine tips for executing a strong launch and gaining downloads as efficiently and quickly as possible. It will draw on some real-life examples including the speaker’s experience launching his game, Style Me Girl, and cover topics including press, smart-launch marketing, choosing categories and keywords, optimizing for physical and online word of mouth, and a/b testing collateral. It will also contrast experiences on various app stores.
Ready to learn how to succeed in the mobile app economy? Learn how leading mobile game developers have cracked the code and made it big. From one time downloads to micro payments and mobile advertising, discover the essentials of an effective monetization and marketing strategy and understand the tactics that help them make more money and succeed in today’s app economy.
The past three years saw a huge surge of interest in social game development, but as the opportunity in mobile gaming continues to grow, social game developers are faced with a difficult decision: Stick with increasingly challenging Facebook platform, or take the plunge into mobile. In this talk, Mike will cover how Gaia Interactive has handled expansion from social to mobile, taking its Facebook title Monster Galaxy and re-imagining it as a mobile game that proved to be more successful than its predecessor. Mike will review which lessons learned proved to be applicable, and what motivates user engagement, retention, and monetization between the two seemingly different, but ultimately very related gaming platforms.
The rise of social networks, social games and MMOs, and the advancements in mobile technology and multiplatform development has created the casual games industry virtually overnight. In some ways, gamers have evolved but in other ways they are the same as they’ve always been – yearning for deeper meaning and purpose in everything we do, including the games we play. We want more than puzzles, more than shallow interaction. We want games that stimulate our senses to explore, test and refine our intellect and psyche. Above all, we want to be entertained. For today’s discerning casual games audience, developing a rich storyline and deep narrative that invites mental exploration is critical. In this session, Chris Skaggs of Soma Games will discuss the factors influencing new trends toward games with purpose, and share examples and tips on how to create an interactive narrative framework for casual games that engage and entertain.
In today’s mobile gaming environment, monetization is the Holy Grail. With the growing popularity of the freemium business model, it’s imperative that game developers understand the nuances of how to monetize within the game and, at the same time, maximize entertainment and enjoyment for the players. Increasingly driven by metrics, monetization is becoming more of a numbers game. But, is it all science and no art? Has the pendulum swung too far in one direction or the other? This talk, delivered by technology industry veteran and PlayFirst CEO Marco DeMiroz, will explore the myths and realities of monetization in today’s ultra-competitive world of mobile gaming. For instance, using real life learnings from Diner Dash, the PlayFirst mobile mega-hit, DeMiroz will debunk the common myth of “you only have three months to reach profitability and make your game a hit,” and others. Session participants will walk away with a new understanding of monetization and tips and techniques that they can apply to their mobile game businesses.
In the early 1970’s the widely popular computer game The Oregon Trail was produced to teach school children about the life of the 19th century pioneer as they made their way from Independence, MI, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In 2008, Gameloft launched a refreshing remake of the acclaimed classic using updated visuals and gameplay for mobile and smartphone platforms, while maintaining its nostalgic luster. Now, three years later Gameloft is propelling its revenue growth and audience by introducing more casual and/or "freemium" games. In doing so, they have also released the second installment to the popular franchise, the freemium title Oregon Trail: American Settler, which ventures into the story beyond the 5-month 2,000 mile trek across the nation and into the establishment and construction of a new town.
You have a talented team, you have a great idea and some incredible concept art, but how do you find the funding you need to make the game and the distribution to make it a hit?
The members of our panel have an eye for finding a hit. They have had apps at the top of the charts and have given out millions of dollars to developers for the creation of mobile and social games. During the panel we will share the good, the bad and the ugly from the pitches they have seen and more importantly they will share the things that catch their eye, to help you get a publishing deal.
In this very serious lecture, the process behind the Gaslamp writing approach, our influences, and our day-to-day creative process will be displayed to a horrified public. We'll look at why Gaslamp made a funny game, how we use our writing to distinguish ourselves in the indie market, and why writing is the cheapest thing you can do to improve your title (this worked out well for us; we ran out of money and our animator left to go to work for Blizzard.) We will show how many "funny" games fail to actually be funny, and how to avoid common pitfalls encountered in the pursuit of comedy. We will illustrate how Dredmor uses multiple forms of humour, ranging from parody and satire, to deadly earnest seriousness, to ensure that the game remains fresh and funny across multiple gameplay sessions, including a behind-the-scenes look at our procedural humor generator. We will also examine how Dredmor's humor serves as a bridging mechanism that helps ease the immersion of the player into Dredmor's roguelike, permadeath-based hardcore gameplay mechanics.
Attendees will leave the lecture unable to laugh at anything ever again.
With over a million apps in the App Store and Google Play, it has become increasingly challenging for developers to distribute and users to find the next game. AAA developers have also begun ramping up marketing spend, making it more difficult for indie developers to succeed on these stores. This panel session will cover some of the obstacles developers will face for app discovery in 2012 and what solutions have been proven to work. Perspectives from social networks, traditional advertising platforms, incentivized advertising platforms, and game studios will be shared.
This talk covers Infinity Blade 2's social feature, ClashMob. The talk describes how the feature integrates social networks in a way that affects the outcome of social challenges. These challenges are large scale gameplay events that require thousands of people to participate in order to achieve the goal. This talk describes in detail how the server and mobile game client interact with the social graph APIs in order to accomplish the goals of the feature.
Adding a story to your game is a great way to, with relatively little expense and difficulty, make the user's play experience far more involved and addicting. However, video games are a unique storytelling medium, with its own advantages and pitfalls. Also, storytelling is art, and art is hard. This talk examines the process of creating the storyline for the indie hit Avadon: The Black Fortress. This game's intricate and involving storyline helped it to build a passionate following despite its low-budget graphics and sound. The talk will cover the steps of going from an idea to a finished tale, with attention paid to the importance of aiming your story to a specific audience and integrating it into gameplay to create a more immersive experience.
The convergence of the two hottest platforms in casual games, social + mobile=opportunity! But what are the trends within the trend? Michael McBride and Dean Takahashi will expose their thoughts on this blossoming social-mobile market and offer strategies for developers aiming to leverage this phenomenon as well as other established platforms.
With 665 million media tablets expected to be in use worldwide by the end of 2016, Supercell sees the tablet emerging as the platform of choice for the next generation of gamers. Anticipating this growth, Supercell recently announced its ‘tablet first’ strategy, which puts game development for the tablet front and center to meet the demand for engaging game experiences on the platform. In this lecture Greg Harper, general manger, North America at Supercell, will discuss this strategy and leave attendees with a deeper understanding of designing for the tablet from the ground up. Specific talking points would include: iPad vs. Android development, tablet vs. Smartphone, the tablet audience, designing for tablet-specific features, monetization on the tablet, social element integration for tablet, and more.
Sometimes, the simplest story about one single person makes all the difference.
Taking references from an indie hit that found success largely around its storytelling (To the Moon), this presentation focuses on the construction of relatable human tales and vital methods of non-verbal execution, highlighting ways for even the smallest of studios to create the lasting impact that triple-A titles aim to achieve.
In addition to avoiding wardrobe malfunctions, the humble presenter strives to demonstrate story-driven methods to create a unified and memorable identity, save development cost, and make an honest living by ticking people off – personally.
An increasingly larger number of games are being developed using the freemium payment model. These games use in-app currency to unlock features in the game, and this currency can either be earned or purchased with hard currency.
A well balanced game controls the sources and sinks of in-app currency helping keep the game stable. If, however, a game is release that is too 'loose', the resultant devaluation of the currency could cause rampant inflation, eliminating the need for external currency and damaging profitability.
Game modeling is essential to balance the mechanics of a game (and to make it fun to play).
This presentation will walk through a selection of mathematical techniques that can be used to model games to understand how often players win, and how long average games take.
The presentation will feature walk-through examples of the application of these techniques on half a dozen classic card and board games.
Breaktime Studios, a leading developer of casual free-to-play mobile games, has successfully launched and sustained four iOS/Android titles in the past year, including Pocket Potions, Sweet Shop, and Dream Dresses. This session will focus on how to successfully operate free-to-play mobile games as a service, and especially how to incorporate real-time user feedback into the game experience.
What do you do when you want to enjoy a deeply immersive story? From
watching TV, going to the movies or reading a book, there are many ways
to do it, depending on your tastes and the occasion.
Chunsoft (now called Spike-Chunsoft) is a company that has been making the SoundNovel games for more than 20 years, and is considered the No. 1 company in the world at combining novels and games.
The SoundNovel game series established by Chunsoft boasts strong popularity in Japan as a part of the genre that brings a strong sense of immersion to the narrative experience. The company will now release an interactive mystery novel game called Kamaitachi no Yoru in order to create a new experience for consumers who enjoy e-books.
Come learn about novels and games and other similar immersion experiences, how and why to publish an interactive novel now, and the tips and tricks behind such a venture.
Utilizing App Annie Intelligence, an advanced market data product, we take the audience through the macroeconomic trends in today's app stores to explore the important themes of distribution and monetization for international mobile apps. Casual Connect attendees will learn about:
- top countries by revenue, ARPU and downloads
- fastest growing apps in the USA, Asia and Europe
- top/fastest-growing gaming and non-gaming categories
- top countries/categories
- % of the US revenue and downloads by made by the US publishers
To observe the exact impact of LIVE enabling we will examine the newly launched mobile game WORDAMENT. After releasing as a non-LIVE title WORDAMENT quickly began accruing a loyal following and an active user base. However, after switching to LIVE the title’s trajectory flourished exponentially, seeing results that outweighed those of a traditional mobile marketing spends and were organically more sustainable. After joining this session attendees will know the benefits of integrating their ad funded title with a large social gaming platform, be able to quantify the investment, and be given instructions on how to LIVE enable on the Xbox platform.
The attendees will find out how Kickstarter can help a small studio with a big project beyond funding. Additionally, Howard will expand on lessons learnt, dos-and-don'ts throughout the campaign and fulfillment steps.
Based on data gathered from more than 190,000 apps running on more than 500 million iOS and Android devices per month, Flurry shares the latest trends in iOS and Android games. Topics covered will include insights in consumer behavior, acquisition and engagement strategies, and monetization.
In only a few months, G5 brought its most popular downloadable franchise Virtual City to mobile social with the new product – Virtual City Playground. After millions of downloads and millions of dollars made in a few months after the release, G5 is sharing the experience of taking a popular casual downloadable game to mobile social on iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac App Store and other platforms.
The mobile web is emerging as a viable opportunity for Indie game developers. With no gatekeeper, the mobile web offers a frictionless path to promotion and distribution of gaming content to any device with a browser. Come and hear the story of Strandead, an HTML5 game developed in one month through a partnership between an indie studio - Mondo studios, a new game development framework – TreSensa, and YouTube’s most viewed animated series - Happy Tree Friends.
Attendees will learn about the development process, costs, stats, ad-revenue numbers and distribution strategy for Strandead.
Android users are presented with a multitude of choices in Google Play. This presents developers and publishers with the big challenge of discovery which has a direct effect on monetization and ensuring increasing ROI. With the assistance of in-game analytics, MoMinis has succeeded in reaching 15 million users in three months.
Monitoring users’ behavior is crucial for ensuring a positive and rewarding experience, maintaining user retention in games. Eyal will share Momini’s experience of monitoring users’ behavior within the games and how reacting to this (tweaking the level design, modifying the UI, improving the tutorial) helps developers and publishers reach the mass market.
A session from Nick Bhardwaj, where he discusses F2P design lessons learned from My Horse and Natural Motion's upcoming game, CSR Racing. Nick Bhardwaj will cover user acquisition, monetization, and overall launch strategy to provide the audience a cohesive view of NaturalMotion's design process.
In today’s landscape, mobile game developers know that the only way to get real traction within traditional Appstores (e.g. iTunes and Google Play) is to have a game in the Top 25, which is extremely competitive and expensive. The bar required to make the Top 25 continues to rise, and most independent developers can’t afford to offer the same level of marketing support as larger developers. But there is another powerful channel, and opportunity, that is evolving, and PlayPhone has deemed this trend the re-birth of the carrier Appstore. Carriers had solid revenue streams selling digital content on feature phones and they want to replicate that success with 100's of millions of smartphone subscribers.
Emcees: David Nixon, Founder & CEO, Gemini Hive Inc.
Dean Takahashi, Writer, VentureBeat
Changes, changes! Everywhere we look there is newness (aka "change") in the casual games business. New game platforms, new global markets, new techniques for enageing, recruiting, and monetizing players, new kinds of players, even new ways to be hacked, defrauded, and DOS'd. It would be unforgivable hyperbole to say that this change is "worse/better than ever," but sorting out what to do now, what to do tomorrow, next quarter, and next year remains a daunting task. Not to mention charting a path that connects them... Embrace the newness! Listen to experts discuss and explore what constitutes "state of the art" business and operations in casual games today.
Emcee: Jim Perkins, Digital Media Specialist
The Corum Group
The Pros from Dover - Buyers, Sellers, Advisors - give you the essential tools you will need to successfully sell your game company in today’s fast-paced M&A market. Hear from some of the biggest names in the industry on their recent experience in the trenches and attend the 1-hour bootcamp on what it takes to earn a fair price for your company, a comfortable outcome for your employees, and positive future for your technologies and products.
A trend in gaming that's only recently begun to take shape is true multiplatform. True multiplatform is when a player can start a game on one platform and seamlessly pick up the game later on another, like playing Words with Friends on your iPhone during the day and then picking up the same game on Facebook in the evening.
Though multiplatform development is fraught with technical, design, and publishing challenges - all of which increase development costs -- huge payoffs exist via increased potential for distribution and engagement. This session will review the current trends in multiplatform development: the challenges, the upsides, and why the Unity3D game engine is the best choice for true multiplatform game development, no matter on which platforms you choose to publish.
In this session, gaming evangelist Lee Brimelow will reveal the latest Flash technologies being worked on by Adobe that will allow developers to build amazing casual 2D games as well as console-quality 3D games. Lee will then spend some time laying out the roadmap for the Flash Player, and discuss the direction in which the player will evolve.
The demise of many game development companies is on the horizon, but many don’t seem to understand what is happening to their business. Platforms are vertically integrating and reducing your games to just lottery tickets. The top games in each platform are squatting on the only effective marketing slots preventing others from being discovered. App Stores are creating and updating policy to protect their interests only and hurting game developers. We’ll discuss what is happening as you need to understand that this reality has changed how a successful games company needs to be run.
Are you looking for exit strategies for your company? Or hoping to get acquired some time down the line? If so, this panel discussion is for you! Come listen to the war stories of our panel of industry experts who have all been through their own successful exits. Listen to them talk about options for success. How do you value your company? How do you get your company primed for acquisition? What are the myths and legends about selling your business and what is the real story? Find out the answers to these questions and more. This is a session not to be missed!
HTML5 proposes a new "standard" for rich-media development for browser games that combines the standards-driven cross-browser compatibility of HTML, write-once cross-platform function, and none of the hassles of a plug in! Utopian promises have folks in the industry salivating and skeptical in equal measures. A few brave souls are diving in to HTML5 game development headfirst, and Goko is one of those pioneers. Join Dave Rohrl, VP of Game Production at Goko and Grant Goodale, CEO of Massively Fun, a development studio working with Goko, to discuss the practical advantages and limitations of HTML5 as a game development platform through personal anecdotes, practical advice, and case studies of existing and in-development products.
Smart TVs have been all the rage in the past couple of years at every major trade-show and event. What many developers have not realized is that Smart TV is about bringing together content and technology to change the television experience; it's not just about distribution. Smart TV will be set apart by the ability of the user to engage with the content and features like multi-screen support and customized user interfaces. Having worked closely with Dish Network, TransGaming, will discuss the developing Smart TV market and what the industry needs to do to be successful.
This year has marked the emergence of several new mobile social platforms, jumpstarting what we see as the beginning of a whole new social gaming experience for developers and players. With these platforms, mobile social games truly become social and achieve cost-effective acquisition, retention, and engagement rates, along with improved re-engagement possibilities. Join Ethan Fassett, GREE's SVP of Product, to learn about the current state of the platform market, how platforms interact with social games, why social games greatly benefit from platforms, and how game developers can leverage platforms today.
In the upside-down world of serviced based freemium games, mobile or web, your toughest competitors turn out to be your best partnership opportunities. Successful game companies of the future are learning that even the most dedicated "indie" teams are only able to directly address a tiny, tiny fraction of the potential audience for their products, and medium-sized developer/publishers (devlishers?) are discovering that the positive impact of a "portfolio effect" far exceeds their ability to release and effectively support new products in the market.
As it turns out it is tremendously beneficial to put aside our well-honed competitive spirit and share hard-won customers for the betterment of everyone involved. Like little MAUs and DAUs of pure love, one shared customer can return 2 or 3 new ones back to your game, while the original faithfully buys your next super-stylish outfit, weaponized plague, or energy pack.
Next up… World Peace!
Do you love innovative gaming startups? Curious to see what the best and brightest in the industry are up to? Do you like watching the best compete? If so, attend the YetiZen Get-in-the-Game Pitch Competition. Come listen to five finalists pitch their businesses for no more than 5 minutes to a panel of esteemed judges from Electronic Arts, TinyCo, and Kabam.
The most promising startup will be selected based on: innovation, clarity of business model, presentation skills, potential for business success (revenue, installs, and acclaim!) Come attend the most aggressive 50 minute competition you have ever seen in games.
This session will introduce the Kindle Fire development platform and focus on the application optimization process for games on Kindle Fire tablets.
Will the exponential take-up of Smart TV across the globe spark a revolution in TV gaming? With over a billion connected TV sets estimated to be in circulation by 2015, this platform will make games as accessible as film and music for viewers, presenting a major untapped market for developers. Delivering rich social features such as tournaments and social networking, this session also assesses whether advances in TV technology will heighten the experience to rival that of consoles. Key market opportunities and strategies to generate customer loyalty and pay-to-play conversion are also identified, showing developers how they can enhance, monetize and promote their content on TV.
Native Client is a new technology that allows users to run C++ code on a webpage without a plugin, this opens doors for developers to expand their market reach by putting their games infront of the entire internet! In this talk, we'll cover an overview of Native Client, talk about details involved with porting to it, as well as take a look at the larger Web-games ecosystem as a whole. If you're a C++ developer, who wants to move to the web, this is the talk for you!
As many consumers are utilizing a second device to access online content while simultaneously watching TV, media companies are evolving to embrace these shifting lifestyles and engage users with new technology. Multi-screen support presents new opportunities for cable operators, game developers, and broadcast networks to deliver content and services that provide a truly engaging experience. This panel will look into the various premium offerings that content providers and distributors can create through a multiscreen platform that allows them to differentiate from competitors, retain existing customers, and attract additional audiences.
The largest demographic of online game players are women over 35. And, this demographic is more social than ever; willing to purchase virtual goods and boosters, while spending more time playing across multiple devices and platforms. But, many questions linger about this group and their habits when it comes to the emergence of new platforms, devices, game-types and forms of monetization.
There’s definitely something going on with all of this cloud talk, but what does it mean for you? If you’re involved with a gaming, entertainment or digital company, it could mean the difference of getting your product or idea to market faster without too much capital investment or being able to beat out the traditional players stuck in their old school ways. You’re cutting edge, right? So why not take advantage of cutting edge technology for your business?
Josh Fraser will help peel away the layers of how you can use cloud computing, addressing the key differences in types of clouds and how to choose the best cloud computing infrastructure for your company.
Hear how hundreds of gaming and digital companies such as Zynga, BigFishGames, ShareThis and Tunecore are getting on the cloud and using it to grow their businesses.
An introduction to building games in Google+ Hangouts. Create new kinds of social games with 10-way video chat, media effects, and real-time game play. Learn what Hangout Apps are, how they work, and how you can benefit from developing one.
Corum Group takes us through a condensed, 60-minute bootcamp on how to prepare your software/internet company for an eventual strategic sale. Jim Perkins will walk us through the 5 vital steps of Preparation, Valuation, Structure, Due Diligence, and Negotiations. The expanded version of this presentation has been running in major cities around the world for over 20 years, helping founders and CEO's create additional value for their companies.
There are many misconceptions around email that may be standing in between gaming companies and the significant increase in loyalty and player retention that email can provide. This session will dispel some of the myths by highlighting case studies with some of the top gaming companies like Kabam, and then go on to arm attendees with essential email tactics for reducing churn and turning players into payers.
While doing business development inside Electronic Arts, Funzio, and GREE, Jamil Moledina pursued various vectors of game trends: taking the AAA console business to digital, bridging multiplatform social games, and fielding a social mobile platform. In this split second of freedom, Jamil shares his real takeaway on the key emerging trends our corporate overlords and must-read blogs would have us believe in.
The celestial jukebox. Online gaming. Streaming movies. TV on your mobile phone. The dream of having all the entertainment you want as soon as you want it, has never been so close. There’s only one catch: network connectivity contention. You know it by many forms: A spinning hourglass; a “Buffering” window; a stuttering video; a glitch within a game. Though full of promise, streaming entertainment is still a long way from the seamless, instant response we’ve come to expect from a DVD player or a console gaming system.
Why the friction in speed? Part of it has to do with delays on the open Internet. But a surprising amount of it has to do with the technology that is embedded in our TVs, home networks and personal computers. The explosion in modern entertainment is stretching our home networking technology to its limits. Every application wants all your bandwidth at the same time and it’s creating a “tragedy of the commons” right in your living room.
But technology enthusiasts rest assure, help is on the way. In this panel, leading experts on home networking and media distribution will reveal the sometimes surprising causes of streaming media glitches in the home, and technology solutions that could make buffering delays a thing of the past.
India will have transitioned from 2G to 4G in a matter of a year. With nearly a billion people on mobile and an estimated 600 million Internet users in the next four years, India is one of the most exciting emerging game markets. With over 200 million devices sold annually and over 54 percent of the population below the age of 25, what can gaming companies do to tap into this fascinating opportunity?
Corum Group presents a 10,000 foot view of the industry's consolidation, trends & drivers, and expectations for the coming few years in-and-around gaming, social, and media.
Xiang Ling, VP of International Business for Hoolai Games, will present current estimated figures on mobile gamers in China, including stats for handheld devices (Android/iPhone) & payment trends between device users. Xiang will also touch upon successful methods of monetizing through Freemium games and the effects of RMB payments in the APP store as well as common themes & categories of games which have become successful in the Chinese market.
It's easy to say you should just be everywhere. Facebook, Apple, Android, Amazon and maybe still the web. But every dollar spent on platform customization means you are likely stealing it from production values and sharing your customers is a pricey proposition. How do you decide when to rent your customers and when to make them your own? How do you unlock the value of individual platforms when you can't afford to play on them all? This session will answer the questions lingering on every developer's mind: where's the money?
The internet has fundamentally changed how we pay and PayPal has played an integral role, pioneering digital payments and enabling widespread online payments across the globe. Today, as new technology blurs the line between offline and online commerce, it’s important for companies of all kinds to understand the evolving payments industry and how they can leverage it to run their business more efficiently, regardless of their monetization model. As consumers adopt increasingly new platforms, it’s important that companies are able to provide a seamless payments experience on any device.
Mary Ku, Director of Product Management, Digital Goods at PayPal will discuss how PayPal’s infrastructure has been the backbone allowing companies the ability to offer consumers flexibility and security, whether they pay online, on a mobile, in the real or virtual world. She will discuss PayPal’s perspective on the future of internet monetization, and how the integration of PayPal’s payments platform can elevate the gaming experience to a new level.
This forum will put four of the biggest names in the gaming industry on the stage for a round-robin of Q&A. What are buyers looking for in acquisition targets -- stable founders, creativity, headcount, revenue, profitability, market potential, or all of the above?
Independent developers don't have time for time-consuming production methodologies. This often leads to production practices taking a back seat to more immediate needs, right up until the inevitable production pains start. Having trouble tracking progress? Trouble prioritizing goals? Losing sight of outsourced assets? You may not have a producer, but someone, somehow, has to play the role of the Overlord. By the time you realize you need help it could already be too late. This session is about anticipating production pains and using Agile methods to produce your game in a controlled fashion, avoiding the costly pains that inevitably come when the production role is neglected.
Freemium game monetization has reached a plateau with existing features. Low ARPU has lead to an industry arms race of game mechanics, viral loops, and monetization methods. Meanwhile, online versions of real-money gambling games monetize at over $300 per paying user. Betable's CEO Christopher Griffin will discuss how real-money gaming will impact the current social gaming landscape and how developers can become part of the first wave of success stories.
Everybody knows that the overwhelming majority of users will never pay for anything in a game; yet, some developers still believe the only way to make money is to ignore these users and cultivate those who do open their wallets. In this vibrant and interactive session, Damon will first explain how micropayments and ad-based monetization strategies can live in harmony. Then, he will guide you through the various ways savvy developers are substantially increasing daily ARPU (not ARPPU!) by paying attention to the audience that matters most, the 98 percent that will never pay with their credit card.
Developing a game around a branded IP today is a win-win situation for both the movie producer and the game developer. An ideal world for any movie production house would be to have prolonged consumer engagement long after the movie has seen its theatrical release. With the kind of massive reach the mobile platform offers today, and with the continuous increase in time that the users spend on their phones, it comes as no surprise that movie studios are placing their bets on mobile games to grab their consumer’s attention for a long duration.
It is essential, then, that the game has the right ingredients to keep a consumer hooked and at the same time excite a gamer. The game should contain the right mix of action, depth and innovation. It is this mix that distinguishes a phenomenal ‘IP’ from an average one. In 2010, Jump Games developed a game based on the action peg of the movie “Real Steel” for DreamWorks Production House which created history and is still fresh in consumers’ minds. Join Manish Agarwal, CEO of Reliance Entertainment Digital, for a case study of how Jump Games focused on the boxing and action element of the property while at the same time experimenting on several levels in the form of game innovation, sequels and a lot more, resulting in an extended shelf life for the IP.
An entrepreneur’s first success is rewarding, but can be difficult to duplicate. What does it take to reliably deliver success on a second, third or even fourth venture? What are the keys to navigating the waters after a sale or merger? Find out first hand the secrets to duplicating successful entrepreneurial ventures from four notable entrepreneurs. Hear the good, the bad and the ugly as these founders share their stories.
Times are changing, to be sure. Consumers seem to want their games wherever they are, and whenever they want. Do they buy the hardware because they love that system and then find games to play on it? Or do they crave certain games and don’t care what hardware it plays on? Are dedicated consoles losing their day in the sun? What is driving consumer wants and needs? Come listen to experts in the field talk about this constantly changing marketplace challenge – a challenge causing a big conundrum for many companies.
As the games industry moves from a product based to a service based industry, fantastic opportunities open up to publishers and developers to start being more player-centric. The ability to understand, segment and most importantly listen to players in order to build a relationship with individual gamers is incredibly powerful.
Analytics is much more than data collection and dashboards. Predictive modeling enables behavioral segmentation that provides actionable insights not only through marketing but also game design to deliver greater player satisfaction.
COO, of GamesAnalytics Mark Robinson will discuss the potential and techniques of predicting future player behavior and how to drive value from Big Data. The session includes commentary from Lloyd Melnick CEO of social entertainment publisher fiveonenine discussing the merits of integrating predictive analytics technology early in the development cycle of their social and mobile games roadmap. Both companies will present a joint case study on user behaviors identified and the resulting impact on monetization.