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IGDA Summit, July 23, 2012.

Please excuse spelling mistakes and the rough nature of this post as our updates during the IGDA Summit and Casual Connect this week are pretty much liveblogged. This session just ended.

  • Margaret Wallace, Playmatics
  • Jeroen Bouwman, Spil Games
  • Bill Bryant, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • Ed Fries, Consultant
  • Elliot F Solomon, Unity Technologies (moderator)

Q: Are we in a downward trend for console sales?
Ed: I don’t think so, but it’s hard to predict the future.

Margaret: I feel that it’s all about portability now, based on where smartphone and tablets are going, I really see consoles having diminishing returns

Bill: I agree with Margaret.

Q: Are Ouya, Apple TV threats to consoles?
Ed: Well what is a console? Will people stop playing on the TVs? No, so it’s a question of who will win.

Jeroen: We’re focused on a young demographic, they likely don’t have access to their own tablet or console. So Apple TV is exciting for us.

Q: Will accessibility and portability in smartphones beat out the PC and consoles?
Ed: We already have a huge smartphone installed base, getting much bigger over the next 12 months.

Margaret: Great content is great content, no matter the fidelity. That magic secret sauce that makes games transcendent, often graphics can water that down, get in the way.

Bill: We’ve see what mobile has done with photos, music. Betting against mobile is being on the wrong side.

Ed: I don’t think it’s just about mobile, but F2P as well. We’re getting better at F2P (as an industry). Traditional console companies, how can they get from here to there (from traditional business models to F2P)? It’s such a huge jump. We have this packaged goods mentality, and this approach is wrong.

Q: iOS vs. Android – which platform is better for games?
Margaret: I flip flop on this every other week. Android is so fragmented, but the worldwide growth is great. Developers are fatigued dealing with Apple, the approval process. I would place my bets with Android.

Bill: The difference has been that Android has not had the same success with F2P and IAP that iOS has had.

Ed: The reason Apple has been so effective is that they are so vertically oriented – hardware, software, sales. Now you see Microsoft imitating the Apple model with the Surface. But I think the true battle is about the stores, who owns the store. Whether its iTunes or Google Play or others.

Jeroen: Android, it’s hard to develop for with the fragmentation. But you can’t deny what is happening there. With the Galaxy S III, and the Kindle Fire it does make for a more homogenized space, easier to develop for. Amazon owns discoverability, light years ahead of Google. That’s the problem with app stores, getting noticed.

Q: HTML5, will it be disruptive to the systems that are out there?
Ed: With companies I’m involved with, they are finding it’s not a viable solution right now.

Margaret: I flip flop on this too. It’s potentially viable, but just about everyone I talk to, they look at HTML5 as a sort of magic solution, cross-platform, cheap. The guys on my team have complained about audio handling on HTML5, with 3D graphics it’s not quite there yet. I don’t know if it ever will be.

Jeroen: I think everyone agrees on the promise and the problems. Amazing promise. We’re publishing HTML5 and will continue to do so, but for us right now the big stuff is native.

Q: Facebook has made changes to their platform but it still seems to be the choice. Why should developers look at other, game-centric platforms?
Jeroen: We (with Spil Games’ platform) are a different beast than Facebook, you go to Facebook to socialize, you go to a dedicated gaming platform to play games.

Margaret: It’s complicated. I’ve worked on both the publisher and developer side. If I’m looking at a platform, I want to ask “can they deliver the audience?” in terms of numbers and demographics. It would be a tough sell to get me to launch a new IP on Facebook right now.

Ed: I don’t like playing games on Facebook anymore because they ask for my permission to bug my friends. When I see it (the permissions auth dialog), I’m turned off.

Q: If you had 10 million to start a new game studio, what would you build?
Bill: Mobile studio, including tablet. I’ve played around with the Surface and it’s a great product, will sell well.

Margaret: I agree, I love tablet portability. I love how games and the real world are intersecting. I would want to marry gaming with a real world component

Jeroen: Mobile with tablet, definitely.

Ed: I think an exciting trend is the return to gameplay over graphics. Look at Fez, Minecraft, Spelunky, the focus is on play, not graphics. F2P/games as a service model.

Q: For blue sky predictions, in five years what will be successful in platforms:
Margaret: Smaller and more portable, maybe finally achieve cross-platform.

Jeroen: Mobile, smaller consoles like Ouya.

Ed: F2P, digital distribution.

Q: Why make a game for Ouya, with such a small user base (based on Kickstarter numbers so far)?
Ed: There are people that want to put their game on the TV but can’t because of the closed systems on consoles. I don’t know if Ouya has the capital to hit critical mass.