By the time you read this our CEO Paul Farley and Head of Biz Dev Nina Cliff will be California-bound, as they head to this year’s GDC in San Francisco. As always GDC will be packed with announcements, demonstrations and industry-defining summits, so we can’t wait to see what the 2016 installment brings.
This year’s event sees GDC mark a major milestone as the conference hits its 30th edition. It’s safe to say that the games industry has changed quite a bit since the inaugural event in 1988, a year we spent staring at ZX Spectrum loading screens while the Sega Megadrive ushered in the 16-bit era in Japan. Each year GDC acknowledges gaming’s illustrious past by featuring “postmortem” presentations on classic games, where those who worked on them dissect the development process and discuss how they got their inspiration. This year’s sessions will serve up a fascinating mix of titles, with talks on the seminal Ms. Pac-Man and 90s dungeon crawler Diablo, as well as the more-recent Rez, a cult psychedelic shooter which is making new headlines due to its VR remake.
Elsewhere, we’ll naturally have our eye on what’s happening at both the mobile and free-to-play summits. On Tuesday Mobilize’s Oliver Kern is due to deliver a talk on issues to consider in mobile soft launches, which we’re looking forward to with interest. Soft launch is a vital part of the free-to-play development process and the point at which the tweaks that can transform a good product into a great one are made. As a team with a number of soft launches under our belt, it will be useful to hear an alternative perspective on the how, why and where of the process. The mobile summit will also feature a session on why mobile could be considered the new “core” gaming. Even though mobile is now the biggest platform by numbers, it has in the past been viewed as a platform geared mainly towards the “casual” side of the market. At this year’s GDC, a number of speakers will put forward the argument that a shift is underway and that mobile is developing into the new core platform, a viewpoint strengthened when we consider the reception of titles such as VainGlory and Supercell’s brand-new Clash Royale.
Over at the free-to-play summit,Dmitri Williams from Ninja Metrics will be discussing how the social side of free-to-play gaming can link in with other aspects such as user acquisition and design. This talk looks to be in similar vein to a recent blog by our neighbours over at ChilliConnect, so we’re looking forward to seeing these issues discussed in more depth. Meanwhile, Ethan Levy’s intriguingly-titled “Tower of Want” session will focus on free-to-play event design and how it can drive both player engagement and monetisation.
As always, there will also be loads of software and technology demos to try out on the showfloor and we’re hoping we can find some time between meetings and seminars to squeeze in a look at the latest in gaming. GDC 2016 looks like being a fantastic show and a very busy few days for Tag Games, so roll on Monday!