Just got back from GDC, and jet-lag aside, I'd say this year was a pretty good conference. I missed last year's as we were finalling Brink, so it was good to be back and see familiar faces, and really interesting to see what's changed.
From walking around the show and talking to people I noticed some interesting general trends:
- A cross-pollination of ideas and practices between all forms of games - f2p/social/mobile; ideas from these types of games can help AAA console games reach bigger audiences too
- A general cooling on Facebook games. Zynga launching their own publishing platform certainly shows that they don't see much in the way of growth there
- Budgets are going to rocket on mobile: console-level 3D graphics are not cheap to develop, and the quality bar is rising weekly
- A lot of buzz about new console platforms, but a good number of devs have moved on to PC, browser or Mobile, and are happy working on smaller, more focused games
- Unreal 4 looked ridiculously good. Ludicrously good. Both visually and from a development point of view. Can't wait to see something ship on it
- New Blood: lots of super-excited kids queuing up at recruitment stands and lectures. New self-publishing developers with a handful of staff. *Lots* of independent British iOS devs. All bodes well for the future at home and abroad
All in all, I'd say that the sense of uncertainty over The Future that had hung over the conference in the last few years has given way to a realisation that the industry's reach has broadened for the better, and there's a relief that console developers still have a place at the table, despite larger pubs consolidating their console development to key titles only.
Social/mobile games are becoming relevant to core gamers because of the quality, craftsmanship and real, meaningful gameplay brought by the console devs who have already shifted across. The increased reach that mobile and PC has beyond TV/console games is really exciting, and it's developing nicely into an ecosystem of complementary apps, games and experiences.
Interest in what we're doing here at Fireteam was very high, meaning I was incredibly busy all week. All sorts of outfits were declaring interest, from small publishing organisations looking for their own branded account systems, to self-publishing iOS developers, to console developers looking for web-services. A very promising first GDC for us.
So now we have a busy few weeks coming up, following up on GDC interest, and preparing for the first game release on our platform. More on that in the near future!