Online platforms make launching a game to a worldwide audience easier than ever. It’s also possible now for a developer to come from any country and make a game that makes a huge splash in every region. With this in mind, IPC Ventures has launched their Gaming Top Talent competition, designed to draw in the best young developers of online mobile games. The first batch of submissions will conclude on April 20, 2016.
Gamesauce spoke with Shelley LK, managing partner at IPC Ventures, during the post-GDC period and talked at length about the importance of industry events, challenges within the mobile industry, and how young developers will approach Gaming Top Talent, from application to the finale.
Gamesauce: Could you start us off with a general description of IPC Ventures and what the focus of the company is?
Shelley LK: IPC Ventures is a Venture Capital firm which builds and scales early stage, mobile-first tech startups. Mobile gaming represents one of specialized verticals for IPC, which has taken a unique, pro-active approach to empowering upcoming talent and helping them solve key issues around funding and discovery.
Gamesauce: With IPC Ventures network reaching North America, South America, Europe, India, China and Japan and more, do you feel like that’s an important part in not only recruiting talent but leveraging new products across the globe?
Shelley LK: At IPC we have worked hard to develop a reliable global network of partners who are well integrated into their local ecosystems. We believe this is a critical component when executing a strategy based on discovering local talent and developing globally relevant products.
Gamesauce: For the Gaming Top Talent competition, tell us about the three main phases: Pre-auditions, Bootcamp and the Grand Finale.
Shelley LK: The genesis of the initiative is to mirror our investment process which is a rigorous and hands-on model; the program helps streamline process in a more structured manner. In essence, every investment/VC process is a close-door competition and evaluation which takes months based and select 1-2 investment each batch out of hundreds of candidates from the deal-flow. For early stage studios which has only prototype, we deploy the resources and get industry experts to help improve and fine-tune the games to be a commercially viable product and monetize well in the markets. So the GTT initiative will add more transparency, concrete milestones and more benefits to applicants to hopefully achieve better result in a more scalable way.
The three main phases break down as follows:
Pre-auditions are an open call to developers to submit their latest projects for consideration. This can be completed through a simple online application on the GTT website or by appearing at one of the live pitch sessions taking place at major game events. IPC and its partners then work to downselect the applicant studios to a maximum of 50.
The Bootcamp is the heart of the contest, where developers are provided specific feedback on how to improve their games from a panel of judges and mentors on a monthly basis. Each month their ability to implement this feedback and generally improve their title is assessed and the number of participants is reduced until we reach a final group of 5-10 contestants. This whole process is rendered transparent via social media interaction and digital broadcasting on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.
The remaining contestants enter the Grand Finale where they will are given a last opportunity to pitch their title with the aim of winning the grand prizes.
Gamesauce: Approximately how many developers have shown interest in the Gaming Top Talent competition?
Shelley LK: Despite minimal marketing, we have already seen a welcome level of interest in the initiative from developers and partners alike and we expect this to increase as we ramp up the PR activity around the competition. With the current run-rate we anticipate approximately 300-400 studios to apply to the program by the end of the application phase.
Gamesauce: How important are events like GDC to networking and finding new young talent?
Shelley LK: Events such as GDC play an important role in the discovery process, they provide an opportunity for facetime with a large number of motivated developers as well as a chance to meet new partners and reinforce existing relationships. In a constantly evolving industry, events provide critical anchor points for discovery and business development
Gamesauce: What do you see as the main opportunities within the mobile industry today?
Shelley LK: The mobile industry is entering a new phase which will offer both new challenges and opportunities going forward. On the one hand, the core technology is maturing and lack of hardware differentiation means software will increasingly become the focus even as smartphone market penetration accelerates. This will put increased pressure on distribution platforms to resolve the growing issue of so-called zombie apps. On the other hand, mobile VR and AR will look to drive the industry forward offering both new applications in a variety of industries as well as new levels of engagement and interaction for users.
Gamesauce: PR via YouTube and Twitch channels is mentioned. It’s often ignored in the indie scene, but how can PR be a “game changer” for smaller titles?
Shelley LK: We would argue that PR is not necessarily ignored by indie developers, in fact indie developers spend a significant amount of time discussing the need for PR. The issue is more one of a lack of resources and a generalized belief that the best PR tools are out of their reach. We specifically mention YouTube and Twitch as they represent two increasingly effective PR tools which can help level the playing field for indie developers, reducing user acquisition costs and allowing them to build audiences and communities around their games.
Gamesauce: Fair enough. Talk about the importance of upcoming events for the Gaming Top Talent competition, such as Casual Connect.
Shelley LK: As Gaming Top Talent gets into full swing and the number of applicants rises, events such as Casual Connect will offer developers a unique opportunity to present their titles face to face. Meeting the judges in person also provides them a chance to raise their profile and fully articulate what makes their titles unique,
Gamesauce: Shelley, thanks.
David Radd is a staff writer for GameSauce.biz. David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.