Random Thoughts from GDC 2016

03/21/16

keith robinson
by Keith Robinson
Platform Sales Executive

Game Developer’s Conference is always massive, bright, and frenetic. As this year’s event winds up here at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, I thought I’d take a couple moments to review some of the interesting observations our team has made as they participated in a range of discussions with clients and prospects. Gaming is such a massive and vital business – almost $100B in sales according to a Newzoo survey.

The Mantra: Graphics and Gameplay: These two words have always been the core of a game’s appeal, and mobile app gaming is no exception. What’s clear is not only are games looking and playing better – in really exciting ways, but consumer expectations of graphics and gaming are also on the rise.

Mobile Continues to Ascend: The massive role that mobile and apps play in the mobile ecosystem continues to grow. As distinctions between platforms begins to blur, mobile has become a core element of game development and marketing, and mobile games play a massive role in the health and vitality of the industry. Mobile radically expands the audience of regular gamers, and helps to create a gender and economic balance.

Mobile Development: Almost half – 44% – of developers are currently working in mobile, which signals an incredible future for our industry.

Omni-channel Brands: Brand matter, in all industries but especially in entertainment categories like gaming. I was struck at how focused game marketers are on building and extending powerful game equities. Further, those brands are increasingly omni-channel in scope.

VRVRVR: This year, GDC debuted a co-located VRDC summit to share ideas and best practices for VR development. VR captures a massive level of excitement – which stands to reason given that improving the immersive properties of games has always been important to improve the odds of success. And according to a GDC survey, 16% of developers are currently working on VR, up from 7% the year before.

The Rise of the Mobile App Marketing Experts: This is a trend we’ve been discussing for months, but the level of expertise required to deliver outstanding marketing in the mobile gaming space is truly a high bar. As is often the case in a market like that, an expert marketing class has formed and is a cornerstone of app development and publishing.

On Our Minds: When you speak with those experts, a number of key topics come up again and again. Here are some of the top interest topics:

  1. Discovery: No surprise that game developers and publishers are constantly looking for ways to improve app discovery. With more than 2 million other apps competing for attention in the app stores, it’s no surprise that raising the discoverability of titles matters a great deal.
  2. Engagement: App business leaders are focusing more attention on what happens after a user downloads – how the brand is creating long-term relationships with customers.
  3. Segmentation : For the purpose of down funnel monetization and reengagement strategies. As well as top-of-the-funnel strategies like look-a-like targeting, cross title marketing, and media blacklisting.

The app business is tremendously dynamic, and the gaming segment is arguably its most dynamic. Based on our experiences at GDC, that shows no signs of changing!

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