Saturday, May 01, 2010

Nordic Game 2010 conference was stellar!

(Luckily) deserted Malmö Mässan ceased to exist and Nordic Game conference moved to Slagthuset. New venue worked well for the conference & expo and was well in line with the casual & cosy atmosphere of the event. The other difference was that this year there were no super stars from Asia but instead really solid set of Nordic success stories. For example Trials HD (xbla), Max & the Magic Marker (Wiiware), Icy Tower (Facebook) and Angry Birds (iPhone) post mortems gave really good insight and lessons learned from those projects.

Rovio CEO Mikael Hed announced that Angry Birds have sold 2 million copies and over 3 million lite version have been downloaded so far. That takes Angry Birds to the top of the paid-apps list in 38 countries! Max & the Magic Marker wasn't as big success but still getting featured or presented at some Nintendo events caused immediate rise of sales. Something to think about when trying to stand out at the app store or elsewhere. Trials HD is a bit different example. I would say top quality development, right timing and resilience really paid off.

Another interesting / related topic was brought up by both Kristian Segerstråle and Jason Della Rocca at their presentations. They talked about how to kill product, what should be learned from failures and when is right time to do the decision to quit development of a game and move on with new ideas. Jason also referred The Medici Effect book on innovation. The author of the book Frans Johansson uses a mix of story, instruction, discussion and interactive exercises to put the principles of innovation to work. He zeroes in on these four areas of innovation including how to:
1. Never run out of ideas.
2. Discover insights and creative ways to improve your idea.
3. Drive away fear of failure.
4. Create a realistic action plan for implementation.

This year Nordic Game keynote speakers were CEO Kristian Segerstråle (Playfish), Co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere (Quantic Dream) and AD Saku Lehtinen (Remedy). Saku Lehtinen told an interesting story how Alan Wake came into being. He highlighted that there were 30-50 people developing Alan Wake (that's related to long development time), passion and dedication as well as pedantry and that it is important to focus on creating a franchise. I was expecting some practical Heavy Rain driven stories from "Movies and games: Collision or Convergence?" keynote by Guillaume de Fondaumiere but for me the presentation was just generic blah blah of how weak movies have been created based on games and vice versa. And that there should be enough material to start with. Great top seller game do not make a great movie. Duh. My absolute favorite of the keynotes was the one given by Kristian Segerstråle. He talked about game entrepreneurship and how to succeed when starting something new (he started mobile games company at the beginning of 2000 and social game company in 2007).

He gave five lessons for game entrepreneurs: 1. think like a CFO, 2. create great product, 3. learn to kill product, 4. build platform and 5. be a number ninja. He also highlighted how franchises matter. In his presentation he focused on access barrier (comparing expensive consoles to new social games platforms (web, FB) and better possibility to reach potential players). He also pointed out that the game development is very different for social platforms. It is more about release early and update often. He compared FIFA series to social games development. There has been 21 generations of FIFA during the last 17 years but 1,5 years old Pet Society (FB) has already gone through over 100 generations. Constant development and improvement of the game is a key to success and something players are expecting.

Besides good presentations Nordic Game awards and development fund recipients were announced. Finland did really well this year. Trials HD (Redlynx) was nominated as the best Nordic Game and Zen Bound (Secret Exit) got award for Best Artistic Achievement. Other awards (best childrens game, best talent) went to Denmark.

The following companies got development fund to put together next success stories :)

  • Rocket Pack Ltd. of Finland was awarded DKK 600,000 ($106,780) for Cats vs. Dogs.
  • Prodigium Game Studios of Finland received DKK 550,000 ($97,882) for Floorball League.
  • Tactile Entertainment of Denmark was given a DKK 500,000 ($88,984) grant for The Wolf in the Iron Forest.
  • Press Play of Denmark received DKK 500,000 ($88,984) for Tentacle Terror.
  • ZAXIS of Denmark was given DKK 400,000 ($71,187) for You've Got Snail.
  • Toltec Studios of Sweden was awarded DKK 250,000 ($44,492) for The Ball.

1 comment:

MrFilth said...

Nice catching up with you again and thanks for this sum up! To my experience it catches the main points from the conference. And it's always a good thing to read them again as it helps - at least me - to remember them better.
Two other great points I got from some social games talk where: Release when 25% done, and create a platform/framework from where you can create more games as the first one may not become the success you may imagine and plan for.