ION Game Conference in Seattle: redefining online
Under the motto “Redefining Online”, the Annual ION Game Conference took place in Seattle, WA between the 13th and 15th of May. The global gaming industry converged at ION to discuss the future of Online Gaming, exchange news, and set new goals for the coming years. Besides industry titans from both the US and Asia such as EA Games, Bigpoint, Crytek, and Epik; fatfoogoo was one of the few European companies present. We were here not only to represent Fatfoogoo, but also to get a view of the newest developments in online gaming. How these developments look, and where they will be taking the next generation of Online Gaming, we proudly present to you here:
Free Games with downloadable content and additional services
The first Trend that’s abuzz in the industry is the increasing alternatives to drive revenue generation. Publishers will sooner or later move further and further away from costly subscription fees and expensive stand alone games, and more in the direction of a “Free to play” platform, i.e. the game is free to download and play, but it’s also self financing by additional downloadable content, services, and micro-transactions between player to player or publisher to player. An excellent example of this concept would be South Korean publishers Nexon, who with Court Rider and Maple Story have banked over $230M in turnover, or German publisher Bigpoint whom already have over 10 million users. On average 8%-30% of these users have already, or will in the future pay for additional functionality and levels.
The second trend amongst game publishers deals with competition in the global market and the often negative feelings/opinions associated with outsourcing. In order to spend more time in developing games, publishers are increasingly relying on third technologies; game engines, sound creation tools, and/or micro transactions (the selling and/or trading of objects, items and services within a game), between players or between publishers and players. The time and money saved with outsourcing should be reinvested in the core components of manufacturer; game development. There’s already a prime example of a masterful use of outsourcing in Epik’s Unreal 3. Unreal 3′s engines are pretty much the same as any 3D shooter, but they employ various sound engines from the Dolby Engineering labs, or micro-transactions from operators like fatfoogoo. The already existing cooperation with second and third line suppliers of engines and services should be worked out in the future. At it’s essence this will free up game publishers to do what they do best: Develop and publish games.
The merging of (suppossed) opposites
The third trend focuses on the fusion of the various different pieces of Social Networking and Gaming. The border between PC and Console, virtual worlds, games and personal net applications, mobile and casual games is becoming more and more blurred each day and should interoperate with each other – technically, functionally and economically. The platforms will be open to each other, and offer the end users several different levels of interaction. Nevertheless, the challenge for this kind of openness in technology lies not only in the tech sector, but the judicial as well. Copyright and tax laws vary from state to state, country to country. The challenge of a functional multinational system is a priority not only for software and hardware manufacturers, but for politicians as well.
Final thoughts and personal observations from Martin Herdina, our foogoo on the ground at ION:
A letter from America
Being back in Europe the jetlag still doesn’t allow me much sleep at night but – and what’s a lot more relevant – I am looking back to a super exciting week at fatfoogoo.
Listening to the industry legends from EA, THQ and NCSoft talk about micro-transactions as the future revenue model for online gaming and to the success stories around Nexon’s “Cartrider” in Korea ($ 250M p.a.) has been extremely interesting and demonstrated once again that fatfoogoo is serving exactly the right market segment at exactly the right time.
Apart from these business aspects I met a full crowd of great people from the US gaming industry, enjoyed some super cool US Ska music at night (check out http://www.myspace.com/dealsgonebad) and was successful at avoiding all business-development meetings taking place in one of Seattle’s strip clubs.