GDC Europe 2011 – a brief update

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The first day at GDC (Game Developer Conference) in Koln (Cologne) was impressive. 
I saw 3D games comparable to Unreal Tournament on PC on an iPad 2 taking advantage of all things Unity (an engine for game developers) has to offer. If you want to check out some great games, developed through Unity, check out their website and check out the Transformers 3 game (and the showreel below). 


Unity Spring 2010 Highlight Reel from Unity3D on Vimeo.

A presentation by Wooga once again confirmed that (Social) games as a freemium with in-game transactions (ingame economy) is the new-to-last business model to earn money on games. The company is in place since 2009 and already released a top 10 Facebook game. 95% of their players find their game through the platforms it runs on (Facebook). 
Henric (the presenter) stressed that it’s the gameloop (the game mechanics) that determines whether a game is fun or not. The gameloop is preferably based on existing and ‘known’ processes, like gardening, driving, building a city, etc. and has no more than 4 to 6 steps. For instance: buy a piece of land, grow vegetables, harvest them, make money, buy land, grow (other / new / better) vegetables, harvest them, make (more) money, etc. 

Then Playdom – one of the bigger publishers of casual (and social) games,  showed that to make an internationally profitable game, you need at least an audience of 15 mln people, since on average only 1% is likely to play the game and only 1% of that percentage will buy ingame content regularly, hence making your free-game profitable.

1% of 15 mln = 150.000 people
1% buys a lot of ingame stuff, say €40,- per year = €600.000,-
9% buys some stuff to experiment, say €10,- per year = €141.000,-

Which is a total sum of €741.000, which basically means you can have a development team of up to 7-10 people (an average team for a social game and 1 year production).

They showed some key-facts on Facebook and other Social Media users.

In China, about 200 mln people have subscribed to Qzone, the largest Chinese social network.
There are 111 mln Spanish speaking people on Facebook
Local Russian social networks account for 34 million people.

Some other countries:

France: 33 mln
Germany: 21 mln
Dutch speaking (Netherland, Belgium, Dutch Antilles): 4,6 mln
Italian: 19 mln
Arabic: 16 mln

The main purpose of a social game should be to keep your players happy, don’t frustrate them and don’t challenge them too much (according to Playdom). They expect to be rewarded for their efforts and actually managing expectations is probably the most important part in developing a social game. Below some more facts about the German game market, as you can see – 23 mln play games and almost 50% are women…

Looking forward to tomorrow when the Gamescom kicks off, it’s comparable to the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) for Europe!

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