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GDC 2010 Highlights & Trends


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Overview of important gaming trends revealed at GDC 2010, San Francisco.

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GDC 2010 Highlights & Trends

  1. 1. Conference Highlights by Christopher Cummings
  2. 2. What is GDC?
  3. 3. Largest annual gathering of games industry professionals 18,250 attendees in 2010 Learning Networking Fun Image source:
  4. 4. There were some surprises and big announcements
  5. 5. Unexpected Games IGF winner LIMBO New licenses, moody art styles, more realistic peripherals
  6. 6. And there were non-surprises that everyone was talking about...
  7. 7.
  8. 8. But the dynamite value of GDC is in the lectures & sessions
  9. 9. Five Important Trends spotted at GDC 2010
  10. 10. Trend #1 - Social Games In China “I heard it was because he stole the boss’ crops.” New titles more competitive than current U.S. generation
  11. 11. Traditional SNS Activities... Ron Guang Hospital Office Promotion Hu Lai Inn Launch May 6, 2009 Launch Jan 27, 2010 Launch June 4, 2009 246k daily active players 208k daily active players 145k daily active players Source: ... except, you can screw over your friends to get ahead
  12. 12. Case Study: Happy Farm “We are not stealing the vegetables, but showing our solitude.” Helping alienated people feel connected makes it addicting...
  13. 13. Trend #2 - Games As Live Service
  14. 14. Virality Is The Name Of The Game Players don't view wall feeds as spam; it’s a chance to share and engage Social features are the best viral features (eg, Sorority Life’s “boyfriends” feature was built with the relationship-starved wall feed in mind) Optimize and renew (it's like direct response advertising) Focus on the most viral features and make the winning features more viral vs. trying to make low performers more viral Image source:
  15. 15. Community Building & Feedback In order of depth of customer interaction... Fan Pages, Blogs, Forums, Support Beware! Users are good at telling you how to make the game better for hardcore players -- not good at making it more approachable, mainstream Listen to what customer say but pay always attention to what they actually do
  16. 16. Trend #3 - Marketing... ... In A Digitally Distributed World
  17. 17. Basics Remain Fundamental Product positioning still relevant -- defines what you're making and how you talk about it with customers Example, We Rule from ngmoco: "From ngmoco and Newtoy, a community of fanciful kingdoms you and your friends shape, build, share, and rule." Positioning drove features... • COMMUNITY :: neighbors as trade partners • FANCIFUL :: aesthetic/design • SHAPE :: players influence game through actions, etc.
  18. 18. Demographics Aren’t Enough • Mass Market doesn’t exist any more • Now a collection of very small markets that want tailored products • 1440 is the new 18-24 • Factor time consumption into the product design
  19. 19. Data Is A Weapon... • Define the answers you want • Don't just build around data you can capture or you’ll only react to what flashes in front of you • Always be testing - drop new ideas into core apps, track CTR
  20. 20. Trend #4 - Female Mobile Gamers... Image source: ... Might Not Want What You Think
  21. 21. Mobile Time Is “Me Time”? iPhone versions of Diner Dash Original game: 1.5M downloads (Sep 2008) Cooking Dash: 1.1M downloads (Aug 2009) Wedding Dash: 1.0M downloads (Jan 2009) Casual games are typically short bursts repeated multiple times day/week In mobile Diner Dash, average session is 30 minutes; majority play 1-3 times/week This is scheduled “me” time
  22. 22. Tips On Mobile Games For Women Insights from quantitative consumer survey (1,047 respondents) • 74% browse the Apps store to find games (vs check review sites) • Interests-match & price prime motivators • 60% skip tutorials • 33% enable “easy” mode • Majority prefer clear narrative & level progression vs. arcade high scores • Players intend to play just a little... so structure content so that delivers on that expectation and contributes to larger accomplishments, drive the narrative forward
  23. 23. Trend #5 - Meta Games Increasingly More Sophisticated
  24. 24. Status, Savings, Scores Create a coherent experience that unfolds over time Define a points system that supports your goals and audience Introduce tailored feedback / rewards to motivate newbies (encouragement), regulars (progression) & leaders (reputation) Design rewards that players are eager to share Use appropriate pacing to grant rewards over time
  25. 25. Does any of this matter if you’re not in the games business?
  26. 26. Yes.
  27. 27. Will Wright sums it up best... “Companies across the world now see gaming as a form of MSG that can be added to anything to make it more palatable, only in this case MSG stands for ‘Make it Seem Game-like’.” Seven45 Studios in Boston Image Source:
  28. 28. Does any of this matter to you if you’re not in the games business?
  29. 29. Visit Product Management Meets Pop Culture at Follow me on Twitter at
  30. 30. All images copyright and trademark their respective owners.