Key Takeaways from GamesBeat Summit 2020
One of the advantages to being a technology company right now is that we have the opportunity to continue to participate in industry events, even while we work from our homes. Last week, we had the opportunity to attend and participate in a key industry event, GamesBeat Summit, hosted by VentureBeat. While the event was originally intended to take place in Los Angeles, the team at VentureBeat was able to pivot to an all-digital event (and the team pulled off a stellar event in just ten weeks!) where participants could still get the chance to hear from industry experts on all things games, and participate in networking opportunities as well.
During the opening remarks Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer for GamesBeat, shared some background on how the event came together. The event theme in particular, Dawn of a New Generation, took on a new meaning as the team shifted to an all-digital event. Here are some highlights from the fireside chats, roundtable discussions, and other sessions we attended.
On day one I had the opportunity to host a roundtable discussion on the theme of “Hyper-casual Games – Beyond Short-term Success.” I always appreciate connecting with developers, and this was a unique opportunity to have people in all different backgrounds from around the world in one room discussing hyper-casual games. After a brief discussion of how we define hyper-casual games, the group shifted into a discussion about what is shifting the quality and lifespan of these games. In fact – the group discussed how their own gaming habits have shifted in a world without commutes. It was no surprise to hear from this group that they are still finding time to play games, but have just adjusted their gaming sessions around their new working schedules.
One of the key takeaways was that you have to realize that you’re appealing to a much broader audience than hardcore or mid-core games. Developers need to be able to create something with lightweight gameplay that still has the transportive qualities that players are looking for — one way developers are starting to shift the category is by incorporating higher-quality graphics. That is, shifting games away from the “flat” art style that has been typical of hyper-casual games up until this point. The session closed with a discussion about whether there is space left in hyper-casual for creativity — with copycat games coming up more frequently, I challenged the group to discuss whether we’re trying to be innovative, or if we’re just trying to be better than the competition. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there is still plenty of space for hyper-casual devs to create new game concepts, and the devs in the group shared they are taking inspiration from other sources like YouTube and Instagram.
On day two, we attended a fireside chat between Justin Berenbaum of Xsolla and Renee Gittings of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) on how game developers can adapt to the world during and after COVID-19. While the pandemic has had a range of effects on the industry as a whole, some of the smaller developers are really feeling a large impact. Fortunately, developers are in an industry where there are still plenty of online resources that developers can take advantage of to keep their community growing and thriving.
Most gaming events are working really hard to incorporate the valuable networking time that is key to the success of live events into their digital events, which is something that devs should be taking advantage of. There’s also plenty of people online looking for connections, so game developers should take advantage of the opportunity to connect directly with players through social media marketing. While it is key for devs to understand their audience before they begin building their social media presence, IGDA is a great resource for both advice forums, and members even get access to one-on-one tailored advice from IGDA’s internal experts.
While it was a new experience for the team to attend a key industry event online, I was impressed with how seamless the process was both as a participant and while I was leading the roundtable discussion. This format seemed to open opportunities for even more people to attend and participate since there was no additional cost associated with travel and accommodations for an in-person event. It was great to get to moderate as part of GamesBeat Summit this year, and I hope to participate again in some capacity in the future – thanks to the GamesBeat team for a great event! Check out the official GamesBeat Summit recap from VentureBeat here.
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