LA Games Conference: Future of Gaming

I’m in the middle of enjoying two days of expert speakers at the DMWGames conference – LA Games event at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The questions from the peanut gallery cross the full spectrum of games: console, social, apps and cross-platform. Economics, dynamics of play and the future of the field are all up for discussion on the panels.

Panels include discussions on monetization, distribution, free to play, second screen apps and platform integration. In the “Developing Games for Distribution on Emerging Platforms” panel one question was clearly heard from the audience: What does it take to be noticed by the big companies?

Panelists gave various answers, investing a 3 year commitment to get in with Apple and build open dialogue. Experts in the field agree to commit to long term relationships with the major distribution channels. With Amazon, Apple, Google it may take a year to get a meeting. It is important to remember that the big players (Facebook, like MySpace before it) will lose popularity with youth while new apps like SnapChat gain in popularity.

Apps are mentioned frequently as a gateway drug to other types of games. Jeff Hilbert from Digital Development Management noted on the console panel that “there’s a lot of people who have never played games before who started with a social game and now play a mobile game.” This is the same progression we saw from web/puzzle games and apps to Draw Something and Words with Friends.

One of the more interesting panels was the “What’s Next in Console Gaming” with Jeff Hilbert, Founder & Managing Partner, Digital Development Management, Chris Donahue, VP, Global Marketing & Content, CiiNOWGeorge Jones, Director of Programming, Games/Action Channel, Wikia and Moderated by: Grant Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Interpret.

Jeff Hilbert had a few gems to share (paraphrased for brevity in live capture):

  • No one has cracked the multiscreen – there’s been nothing but failures in that space. I don’t see how it would work with some content.
  • What’s really starting to succeed are companion apps. When you embrace the platforms for what they are, not trying to make it work on every platform.
  • Use the right content with the right platform.

This cross-platform interactivity theme was also common in the Second Screen apps panel, where it is becoming clear that peer-driven challenges help drive participation and engagement for gamified entertainment play. One crossplatform example mentioned is “Homerun Stars” from Smoking Gun in Vancouver. In this game you get to pitch from your phone and bat from the XBox – connected play between the app and the console play. We are now seeing entertainment designed to bridge television and movies with gaming and apps. There’s a lot of experimentation going on and integration is still being developed.

Other topics being debating include the future of cloud and desktop gaming and how this will play out for the free-to-play market now sorting out new models for profitability. Cloud gaming makes it faster to get to gameplay, requiring less time in downloads, uploads, customer acquisition. It’s gaming on demand, as fast as a TV provides programming, lowering the barrier to entry to make it easier for anyone to play games.
Cloud gaming fundamentally is browser-based gaming. Browser based is on the user side vs. cloud gaming on the server side? Embedded games that transcend browser and server/cloud dimensions are becoming more common, as dependency on one server is doom for a game (see the Sims disaster of 2013). In the future the console box may replace the cable box as the new cable/game system of the future and there will be many mergers coming in this space in the coming years.
What else do you see in the future of gaming and interactivity? Check this curated set of photos and videos for more from #DMWgames.

[View the story “Digital Media Wire: LA Games Conference” on Storify]

The #DMWGames conference is hosted by Digital Media Wire @DMWnews and @DMWevents.

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