August 09, 2010 - by badnima
In mid-July the Joyent crew travelled to Seattle for this year’s Casual Connect conference. This was our first time attending so we partnered with our friends at tmpSocial and descended upon Benaroya Hall. The weather was gorgeous, the venue perfect and it gave us a chance to meet Social Connect’s Jessica Tams as well as a lot of talented people from WildTangent, Playdom, Big Fish Games, Unity 3D, Hi5, Dime Rocker and more.
Taking a break from booth duties, we jumped at the chance to sneak in a few presentations and wanted to share what we learned, along with a bit of our own color commentary.
1. Measure twice. Code once.
I won’t go into the detail of each metric, but here are my top 5:
The short of it is, if you’re going to create cool new games, make sure you think about what you should track to ensure your game is successful! And if you need help with your metrics, the folks at Kontagent will be more than happy to help.
2. Gaming is dead. Long live gaming.
In a packed room at the Triple Door across from Benaroya Hall, the folks at Playdom presented this year’s Social Gaming trends. They covered broad categories of what’s new and hot, what’s on the edge and what’s waning down in popularity and also shared their thoughts on why and what to look out for.
Gaming genres on the decline included Farming, Pets and Aquariums while Business Sims (restaurant city, café world, nightclub city, baking life) were flat with equal gains and losses. As the first wave of simulation games decline in popularity, the next generation is gaining prominence with genres such as City Building (My City, MyTown, Social City, My Empire, Millionaire City), Resorts (Happy Island, Tiek Resorts), Tile Exploration (Treasure Madness, Treasure Isle), Casual to Social (Chocolatier), and Sports (Bola, EA FIFA, Playdom’s deal with ESPN titles).
Aside from the obvious market shifts, the speakers explored some of the drivers affecting gaming dynamics. Specifically, they highlighted the problems of rampant cloning and how that affects and ultimately diminishes each genre. In addition, they pointed out to the increasing rate of spoilage (games get old very fast) and discussed some of the unique problems facing developers as they try to get new games to market faster while depending the engagement mechanism to ensure better retention and stickiness.
On game design, the speakers had very concise feedback to developers, some of which I’ve noted here:
Ultimately, the one thing everyone agreed on was that next year’s boom games are yet to be discovered and that any new viral mechanism created today will certainly be banned or removed by the major social networks this time next year.
We’re looking forward to the fall conferences, so if you’re going to any that are particularly interesting, drop us a line and let us know. Just send us a note to @joyent on twitter.