Casual Games Association (CGA) has had a busy month. Their Indie Prize scholarship program received 470 game submissions before its deadline on December 5, 2016, and they recently released their online schedule for their upcoming Casual Connect Europe conference this February in Berlin, Germany.
Indie Prize Insights
The Indie Prize submissions represented a 20 percent increase over entries for Indie Prize Amsterdam 2016. Developers from 63 countries entered games into the program – including places such as Egypt, Moldova, India and Belarus. Winners from game competitions at partnered events like DevGAMM and Codemotion also received a guaranteed spot in Indie Prize Berlin. A variety of platforms were represented as well – although PC and mobile had the strongest showings.
“We are overwhelmed by the amount of submitted games this year. It’s great to see that studios from all over the world would like to showcase their projects and take part in the Indie Prize scholarship program,” said Indie Prize Director Yuliya Moshkaryova.
Now, 38 Indie Prize judges will begin the process of selecting 120 games to be part of the Indie Prize Showcase at Casual Connect Europe. Everything will culminate in the Indie Prize Awards on February 9, 2017, where 10 crystal trophies – and great prizes to help independent developers – will be awarded to the best of the best in indie game development.
As for Casual Connect Europe itself, CGA’s recent schedule release included over 100 speakers – including a bevy of high-profile industry experts and veterans. The conference will feature nine tracks in Berlin. Here is a quick look at some of the highlights from each track.
- Industry Insights | CEO of GREE International Entertainment Andrew Sheppard is one of the featured speakers for the Industry Insights track – as well as Casual Connect’s keynote speaker. Andrew will discuss industry innovations to expect in 2017 – and the concept of bundling will be a center point of discussion. After Andrew’s keynote session, Team17 CEO Debbie Bestwick will offer insights on how to create a sustainable business and pitch your product – among other indie survival tips.
- Market Navigation | In Market Navigation, David Mohr, general manager of Gamevil Europe, will tackle how to turn successful games into truly global brands – something he sees as the main challenge for mobile gaming companies in 2017 and beyond. Later on in a panel, representatives from King, Social Point and Scientific Revenue will discuss designing mobile games for optimal IAP.
- Esports & Casino | Esports & Casino represents an unconventional approach to Casual Connect’s usual track format. Esports speakers such as Wargaming.net Head of Global Esports Mohamed Fadl will share their expertise in one chunk of the track. In the other chunk, social casino and RMG aficionados such as Murka Product Owner Barbara Medvedieva will offer their insights. Gamblit CMO Darion Lowenstein and GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes will help tie skill-based games, esports and the casino industry together in transitory talks.
- Kids & Family | Hasbro, My Town Games, Tiny Lab Productions and Kidoz will discuss scalable production and safe monetization in a panel on the Kids & Family track. Later, Dubit Global Head of Research Peter Robinson will analyze anticipated trends for 2017 and offer insights on what to do about them.
- Next-Gen: VR & AR | Brett Leonard, CCO of VIRTUOSITY, will discuss the VR market and VR experiences with Gamesindustry.biz editor Matthew Handrahan in the Next-Gen track. Afterward, Valve developer Chet Faliszek will reflect on the first year of commercially available high=end VR headsets and offer strategies for developers as they head into 2017.
- Design & Development | Electronic Arts Creative Director Petri Ikonen will discuss the challenges in creating SimCity BuildIt in a Design & Development session that embraces agile, team-wide design processes and a strong UX- and user-centric approach for F2P mobile game design. The next day, Bryan Mashinter of Backflip Studios will share both failures and successes regarding in-game events, A/B testing, user engagement, and more from DragonVale‘s five-plus years on the market.
- Growth | Ben Topkins, General Manager SF of Elex, will discuss challenges the company faced during their quest to turn Clash of Kings into a global, chart-topping phenomenon. Speakers from companies such as Youzu Interactive and Netmarble EMEA will also offer their insights on growth and new markets.
- Funding | Execution Labs Co-Founder Jason Della Rocca will provide some harsh reality for independent developers seeking funding while providing insights on how to interact with investors and improve chances of getting funded. Elsewhere in the Funding track, panels focused on strategics and indie publisher labels will include experts from places such as NCSoft, GREE and Wargaming,net.
- Data & Analytics | In the Data & Analytics track, data-savvy professionals will reveal how to get the most from the data you’re collecting. In one of the track’s panels, experts from GREE, King, Kongregate and Facebook will detail the differences between a data-driven strategy vs. a design-driven strategy.
In addition to Casual Connect Europe’s Indie Prize Showcase and educational sessions, three official networking parties are also slated. The first will take place the night before the conference starts, on February 6, allowing people to pick up their conference badges early and mingle with fellow speakers and attendees. The final two parties will take place on February 7 and 8.
Typically, turnout at Casual Connect parties numbers in the hundreds. For the conference as a whole, CGA expects roughly 2,000 attendees. In addition to the parties, attendees will also be able to network via the conference’s Pitch & Match system – which allows attendees to search for fellow conference-goers who have specific skills they are looking for.
Casual Connect Europe runs February 7-9, 2017, in Berlin, Germany. For more information, check out the official Casual Connect Europe website. Members of press and media outlets who are interested in covering the conference can find press releases and apply for a free all-access press pass on the Casual Connect press page.
Casey Rock is a staff writer for Gamesauce. Casey loves rock climbing, hiking and singing in indie rock band Open Door Policy. He also streams games under the moniker The Clumsy Gamer. You can catch him on twitter @caserocko and @realclumsygamer.