Unfortunately Rebecca is unable to attend DemoCamp’s Gaming Edition this evening so Nancy Zimmerman has been kind enough to take on the liveblog – thanks Nancy!
What: DemoCampVancouver06 – Gaming Edition [wiki][Facebook event]
Where: Workspace in Gastown
Bleeding Edge iPhone Development
Parveen Kaler, Smartful Studios
Self-Publishing Games Direct-to-Consumers
Dustin Sacks, Sillysoft Games
Starting out with a panel about gaming in general.
How many people have a gaming console? About 15.
How many people think of themselves as gamers? [oops – missed this response – typing!]
Will discuss business aspects of gaming tonight.
Dustin Sucks – owns Sillisoft games. Develops strategy games. Will talk about indie gaming.
Jamie Change – has done retail, online, currently doing purely online pc, free to play. Will talk about economics of Xbox dev’t.
Parveen Kaler – [oops – missed – will try to fill in]
Q: Is indie gaming like indie films?
P: Halo is summer blockbuster; but all games are ‘games’ – doesn’t like the term ‘casual’ games.
D: Name ‘casual’ means it takes less up front to get into them. Not such a steep learning curve. More accessible.
Q from audience: Do any of you try to bridge online/console/etc?
J: hasn’t seen it work yet (eg. Majestic).
P: benefit of iPhone is it has it all. May be more options.
Q: Is gaming mainstream? eg. Halo
P: No – these are still played by males, 18-35.
Dispute: Wii is used by seniors. Others are porting their games over to the Wii.
J: Casual game companies have targeted 40 yr old soccer moms.
Q: How do you get non-triple-A games out there?
J: offer free trial. Piracy is a risk. Providing games as a service, not a product, is where games are going.
P: must get product on shelf by black Thursday. Figuring out ways to smooth out revenue model.
Rabbit hole: EA game based on wife who never saw her ea husband. Problem for quality of life!
D: subscription revenue is one way around limited shelf life. Another model is self-publishing. Developer doesn’t want game only available for a month.
J: publisher doesn’t want it only available for a month either. Problem is retail space. Digital distribution is ascending. This gives developer more power in the relationship rather than handing power to retailers.
Q: Is Xmas still a big month?
D: Yes. Still seasonality as kids get money at this time.
D: Vancouver is the biggest game developing city in the world.
P: Emily Carr and VFS are big contributors to talent.
Masters degree in digital media offered through SFU in conjunction with Emily Carr. Students focus on project management skills more than learning programming skills.
After the Break, Talks Begin
1st up: Parveen. iPhone Development for Indie Developers.
Everyone has strong opinions about Apple. What does the iPhone as a medium mean? Apple has just surpassed Walmart in market share for music sales.
1. Xbox audience is completely different than iPhone audience. What does that audience want? And, who is buying iPhone?
2. Four price points that matter: $40, $20, $0.99, Free.
Episodic and a la carte is how people want to consume. Don’t fight it.
3. Call to action: Games will need to move from mastery = point, to enhancing player’s emotional and intellectual life.
How can you suck a player into kissing the touch screen?
Next up: why Jason Chang ditched XBOX and moved to nexon.
Jason got burnt out of the industry. Had a lot of fun on Donna Borg (?) – cost $4million. Then worked out The Outfit. At least a year, up to four, required to make.
He took eats (?), the game he was making as a hobby, and put it online. It made a bit of money. Then he moved to xbox. Helped create m-plus, which did well.
Then, business model changed to one that doesn’t work. As a developer, he used to be able to reasonably predict how many games would sell. This gave him confidence to develop. Now that the rate has dropped to 30%, so 2/3 of potential revenue is gone. Developers are up in arms about this. Developer now bears a lot more risk. Developer has to put in at least $300K to develop the game, plus time, then takes time for sales revenue to end up in the developer’s bank account.
So, Jason has moved on to Free-to-Play games, partnering with Nexon.
Last up: Dustin on “Lux Delux”, sorta like the boardgame Risk
lol – giving a great demo of kill or be pwnd.
Free demo model. These get distributed really far. The free demo leads people directly to the purchase page. Most sales are direct; they use a few distributors. Charge: $24.95.
They avoid spike of sales, then zero, by continuous development for the past 5 years. It looks totally different now than years ago.
Users created a lot of the richness of the game – developing maps, then used as plugins. They don’t get rev share – the game’s already been sold.
Dustin says they dominate the niche, and have a good business. Players are a community, and he’s a part of that community.
Liveblog written and contributed by Nancy Zimmerman