Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GDC2010, day 1. My top 3

1. Nexus One
Woot, I got a Nexus One! I don't like the design but new gadgets are always cool! And some feelings (see the photo) from North Hall (GDC2010) -- that's so 80s ;)

2. Focus group driven development not as relevant in Facebook
10 years ago the popular saying was that if you manage to get girls into gaming, you will double the market and become a billionaire over night. The development was _very_ segment driven. Developers were wondering what teenage girls would like to do in a game and how the game should look like. The result was that the market was full of friendship adventures and doll house simulations. With social games it is clear that game development is no more that much focus or segment group driven. It might well be that the e.g. Facebook game developers were thinking of certain type of gamers -- but that is exactly the issue here -- social games (at Facebook, MySpace etc.) are played by everyone and as a brain break. Basically Farmville attracts both 11 year olds and 31, 41 or 71 year olds. The development does not start with typical mechanics or game play or even games but instead is "an activity you do in the net". So it is casual past time activity and social in its virtual and asynchronous way. I think this is a good point! The change of viewpoint (purposely or by chance) is the key. Facebook games are different type of activity from "normal" games. In Facebook people don't want to achieve high scores, practice their skills or spend hours gaming. They just want to take care of their farm or fish tank a couple of minutes now and then, chill out and relax.

3. Social, viral and game patterns in Japanese social games (DC Collier talk)
DC has given brilliant presentations at E3 and GDC for years already. Again he presented some current SNS trends from Japan. This time there were nothing really shocking or surprising. Instead many examples were pretty typical SNSs. Also brands were not as much in the limelight than some years back. I think Disney was the only branded game in the selection. Other than that many themes and the game play was very well in line with what we have here in Europe or US.

The slides will be available though his company's blog shortly, you can check more details from there. Still I would like to share a couple of remarks from the presentation. Many popular Facebook games have Japanese parallels. Most popular applications implement OpenSocial. In Japan Mixi, DeNa and Gree have many times more users than Facebook and better ARPU.

He also presented examples of social patterns, viral patterns and other game patterns. Viral patterns e.g. "wink me" and get points, "visit my shop" generated page views and trading benefits. Game patterns such as grinding and collecting stuff mentioned in his examples. Social patterns: location based teams or items, decorate & show off and different ways of poking (aggressive, win-win etc.) were just some of many examples shown.

Oh... I also learned that if you want to succeed in China -- the best way is to marry a Chinese woman because foreigners have so many limitations related to running a business in China. Hm... Another China comment was that currently there are no Chinese games in Facebook top 20 game applications but it is just a question of time when then move from cloning to inventing something new. Last but not least James Gwertzman's nine points how to start a gaming business in China (in a nutshell). His slides.

My sessions Tuesday:
Indies and Publishers: Fixing a System That Never Worked
Ron Carmel (2D Boy)

Abusing Your Players Just For Fun
Jonatan (Cactus) Soderstrom (Cactus Software)

The State of Social Gaming: Industry Overview and Update
Justin Smith (Inside Network)

Why Are Gaming Veterans Flocking to Social Gaming?
Brenda Brathwaite (Slide), Brian Reynolds (Zynga), Noah Falstein (The Inspiracy) and Steve Meretzky (Playdom)

Social Games in Japan
David Collier (Pikkle KK)

Meet the Newest Chinese Import/Export Business: Social Games!
James Gwertzman (PopCap Games, Inc.)

How to Innovate in the Land of Clones
Nick Fortugno (Playmatics)

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