GDC 2014 – A Week in San Francisco

GDC 2014 – 5 days of business, games, parties and mayhem! Lauren and Kevin attended from ad2games’ San Francisco office and Sis and Martin joined from the Berlin headquarters – it was a great team for the occasion. With over 24,000 professionals coming to GDC 2014, attendance once more broke the record.

Sharing a booth with our sister-company AppLift we were in a good position to tackle both online and mobile. The first couple of days were dedicated to pitches, presentations and organizing meetings with existing and prospective partners.

By the time Wednesday rolled in, the booth opened, the craziness started and we were ready for action. Next-door were Virtuix, who brought the Omni, their revolutionary virtual reality system which allows players to see, run and shoot without a controller. They had nothing on our Fox mascot, but it was fascinating to see the direction gaming is taking, especially with Oculus not far away. Which brings us to the main take aways from GDC 2014:

VR – This year it was hard to ignore the huge crowds standing in line to play the latest releases of the highly advanced reality-creating games. And, with the announcement earlier this week that Facebook had acquired Oculus, 2014 is definitely going to be the year of 3D virtual reality.

Smart targeting – The days of treating all online users as a whole are over. The industry is switching to smarter media buying tactics and highly targeted and programmatic buying strategies. Both service providers and game publishers are engaging in user-behaviour prediction in 2014, all in a bid to improve their monetization processes and ROI.

Faster technology – More and more companies offer services that allow gamers to play in a smoother, faster digital environment. Many of those companies are involved in acquiring servers worldwide and are committed to providing users a better gaming experience. Highwinds is one of the longer running companies of that kind that had a presence at GDC.

Cross-platform focus – Game developers and other companies in the industry have long embraced the trend of people spending most of their time on their smartphones and tablets. Moreover, they love to play their games all the time and everywhere, literally. It comes as no surprise, then, that many resources are being invested in mobile game development and distribution. We anticipate 2014 to go even further with smart cross-platform solutions for online & mobile games.

By nightfall, the team were looking forward to some fun at the AppLift party. Rated by one conference hopper as the best party he had been to in 3 years attending GDC – maybe it was the graffiti, the German house music or the business deals that take place after a couple of cocktails – the whole event was a roaring success and will be the talk of the town next year!

Thursday was spent working the booth, in meetings and checking out friends and competitors to swap stories and talk gaming. There were some fascinating talks, as well, that we were lucky enough to catch. A great ‘year in review’ was presented by Juan Gril (Joju Games), Steve Meretzky (GSN Games) and Dave Rohrl (Gamehound) and some illuminating talks about cross-platform monetization given by Aaron Brady (Facebook), Emily Greer (Kongregate) and Nick Fortugno (Playmatics). Where else can you catch such a breadth of speakers, if not at GDC?

Friday closed the week – the traffic slows down, the students make the rounds CV in-hand and you have some time to catch some of the games that are coming out. VR, indie, mobile, motion, board, quizzes, ancient; all the games are there competing for attention with arguably the strangest ‘star’ of the show – the Goat Simulator! Who knew so many people would want to give it a try? It held its own against the other big players, namely the big names in virtual reality. Find out more about this truly unique game via polygon.

Free-to-play remains a major focus, and it was great to see the industry thriving and an ever-growing interest in the sector. GDC 2015 will be get a massive circle on the calendar for next year (the dates are already announced for March 2-6, 2015).

Kevin (Business Development Manager)
Sis (Senior Online Marketing Manager)


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