Games are fun, but at the end of the day, building games is a business. It’s not all design and development. Funding and publishing must also be taken into consideration when building or running a studio. Luckily, independent developers looking for insights on these topics will find everything they need in Casual Connect USA 2018’s Business of Games track.
Casual Connect USA 2017 on August 1-3 in Seattle, Washington will cover a myriad of subjects detailing the developing, publishing, and marketing of games for all platforms. Taking place exclusively on August 2, the Business of Games track will kick off with a short welcome by track emcee Salim Mitha, a partner at Evolution Media and veteran in growth tech opportunities on funding, publishing and licensing.
The conference will feature sessions on various evolving game finance models, impacting almost every game developer in the industry. Jay Powell, CEO of The Powell Group, and Drew Boortz, Managing Vice President of Western Business Development at Nexon, will discuss a myriad of pros and cons of the various popular structures for game finance, including break-even structures, studio burn-rate deals, angel, Series A investment, crowdfunding, as well as creative hybrids of all structures. Patrick Sweeney, one of the leading attorneys in the games industry, will serve as moderator.
Patrick Sweeney has closed many deals on behalf of developers, so has particular insights in the publisher method of financing. He’ll talk about the pitfalls developers should avoid in publishing partnerships that he’s seen in the 500+ publishing agreements he’s helped conclude.
Pitching publishers is an important skill for smaller developers to have to increase the exposure of their games. Talking on subjects like how to approach and pitch publishers, in addition to discussion of typical deal structures and expectations goings into a negotiation will be tinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik, Team17’s Head of Publishing & Business Development Justin Berenbaum, Devolver Digital Partner and Funslinger Mike Wilson, and Versus Evil GM Steve Escalante, with Execution Labs co-founder Jason Della Rocca as moderator.
Developers and publishers have relationships not unlike people have, running hot and cold, suffering breakups and “ghosting”. Mel Montano, Senior Business Development Manager at Kongregate, will have a humorous take on the highs and lows of publisher networking, creating and maintaining relationships, and how to decide on a potential publishing partner.
Licensed for Business
IPs for music, films, TV or celeb licensing can have rewards and pitfalls for developers. Flashman Studios CEO Brad Young and Jam City EVP of Corporate Development & General Counsel Rob Zakari will talk about working in licensed IP business on franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, Walking Dead, Family Guy, Simpsons, South Park and many others.
Signing the right licenses is part of a general strategy including investment, acquisition and partnerships. Michael Chang, SVP Corporate Development at NCSoft West and Shanti Bergel, SVP of Business & Corporate Development at GREE International Entertainment will talk about their experiences working the business half of the industry for mobile and PC gaming.
Holistic Gaming Business
Gamers are changing and evolving all the time, and it’s important to be able to think holistically about it when you’re working in UA. Brian Boland, VP of Publisher Solutions for Facebook, will talk about overseeing the social media company’s efforts to help developers and publishers monetize their apps, sites and content.
There will also be insights from leading executives, giving their unique perspective from being on the leading edge. Gawkbox CEO Chris Brownridge, PlayFab James Gwertzman, CEO of and Jonathan Zweig, CEO of AppOnboard Inc., will talk about everything from streaming, gaming back-ends, and app development in a session moderated by LVP Partner Paul Heydon.
Network to Success
Casual Connect will cover multiple broad topics of the industry, covering VR & AR, game design, social casino and much more. Over 2,000 professionals are expected to attend the conference, making it a perfect networking event with three official networking parties. To find out more about what Casual Connect USA 2017 can offer, please visit usa.casualconnect.org.
Why You Will Never Get Funding may sound like a very depressing session from Casual Connect Europe but it was very insightful. Funding is tough to come by, especially for indie developers. Helping indies find their way to funding is Execution Labs‘ mission.
Jason Della Rocca, Co-Founder at Execution Labs, spoke on the sad reality that most games and studios do not get the funding they seek. Although we hear of million or even billion dollar deals happening these are rarer than you may think. It is a hard thing for most developers to penetrate. Jason gave a fresh perspective on the real reason for this: you. Discover with Jason the top reasons investors are holding back the cash and gain insight on how to improve your chances.
Rather than pitching a problem (e.g., lack of funds to finish the game) to a potential publisher, Jason advises developers to “reframe it as an opportunity, understanding that what they are doing is an opportunity and pitching that in talking to us about the game/studio. Now, that may mean they still have some cash flow issues but don’t pitch the problem, pitch the opportunity. That is a red flag right from the beginning.” Jason offered many other gems during this session:
For more information about Jason Della Rocca and his career, see this exclusive article.
Chasing and pitching investors is no simple task. Best not screw it up when you get the chance! At Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2016, Execution Labs Co-Founder Jason Della Rocca reviewed 10 pitching mistakes that raise immediate red flags with potential investors, and how best to avoid them. The first step, Jason says, is to realize you suck at pitching. Learn about all the pitching mistakes in the video below.
Funding is a vastly important part of starting a new studio, and M&A is vital for large companies to infuse themselves with new talent and fresh IPs. Casual Connect Tel Aviv has got both covered in the Funding and M&A track, where various partners will be on hand to talk about effective ways to expand.
Fast Track to China
One of the major elements of both funding and M&A is China, both going into and going out of the country. There will be multiple sessions dealing with this in China and Asia in general, including Doing Business in China: The Perspective of an Entrepreneur Who Did It given by Reinaldo Normand, Investment Partner at GameFounders and Entering Asia by Sean Lee, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Wargaming Group.
For those looking to be acquired by a Chinese company, there’s a lot to consider. It can be hard to reach out to such companies or even know what they’re looking for. Corum Group Executive Vice President, Jim Perkins, has dealt with several M&A’s in the region, including the sale of Digital Extremes to Leyou Technologies and will address the subject in the session Is Your Company’s Buyer In Asia?
Large Purchases, Big Deals
The panels for Funding and M&A also have a focus on the Chinese region. With companies like Supercell, Playtika, Smaato and Media.net being subjects of M&A activity and China, it’s important to know what’s causing these deals and what happens to the companies. In the panel M&A in China – What is Driving Acquisitions by Chinese Firms?, Perfect World Head of Global Investment Bill Wang, CV Capital Adviser Jim Ying, and Youzu Interactive Vice President of Corporate BD Yuli Zhao will be moderated by Jim Perkins, Corum Group Executive Vice President and will talk about all qualities of these acquisitions from both sides.
While there have been some of the largest purchases in the mobile/casual industry instigated by Chinese companies, some think the investments from Chinese companies into Western markets has only begun. Bill Wang, Head of Global Investment at Perfect World, Ringo Zhu, Director Business Development for North America at CMGE, and Reinaldo Normand, Investment partner at GameFounders, will discuss in the panel Jumping the Great Wall – Funding Insights for China moderated by Jason Della Rocca, Co-Founder and Indie Evangelist at Execution Labs will talk about what Western studios can expect when exploring investment from China.
How to Pitch Your Company
The panels continue to talk about innovations that will drive investment, with voices coming from all around the world. Jim Ying, Adviser at CV Capital and Guy Bendov, CEO of SIDEKICK Games will participate in a the panel What’s the Next Big Innovation Opportunity in Games? moderated by Xiang Lin, Partner at Troodo Mobile.
Regardless of innovations, it can be hard to pitch an idea to investors. Jason Della Rocca, co-founder and Indie Evangelist at Execution Labs, will give tips in this session: Pitching Pro: 10 Non-Obvious Red Flags to Avoid When Seeking Investment. Sebastian Storfner, Director of Corporate Development at GREE International Entertainment, will also address the subject during the session The Changing Investment and M&A Scene in Mobile Gaming: Opportunities for Developers.
Seize the Opportunities
Whether you’re looking for investments or hoping to invest, there will be plenty of customers at Casual Connect Tel Aviv on November 1-3. Look to network during the formal events that will be offered, in addition to between the various sessions and panels. Find out more about the Funding And M&A track and more at TelAviv.CasualConnect.org.
Anya Combs, Games Outreach Lead at Kickstarter, is dedicated to helping game developers reach success and has the knowhow to help this happen. Recently Anya shared some of her insights and background with Gamesauce in an interview that revealed her passion for the game industry and for working with creators.
Investment is a critical decision in the game industry, whether you are a company founder looking for investors or a potential investor looking for opportunities. At Casual Connect USA, a panel of experts discussed today’s VR investment landscape. Among these experts was Marco DeMiroz, co-founder and general partner of Venture Reality Fund. Marco has held executive positions with leading technology companies and global investments, including Managing Director of Evolution Media Partners, leading its investment in Jaunt VR and now a board observer. Currently Marco is a board member at Swrve and advises companies in the VR/AR sector.
The panelists discussed their portfolios, why they chose these companies and what companies they are looking to invest in for in both short and long term. They also described possibilities for funding a variety of VR projects and offered insights into optimizing investor/founder relationships. When turning down a developer, Marco is a believer in explaining why and avoiding an easy mistake. So they “deliberately tell the team why we don’t like the idea . . . In my opinion, that really helps because hearing it’s not a good fit for us and we’ll see you later doesn’t really help anyone.” To learn more insights from Marco and other professionals, be sure to watch the video of the session below.
For more details about Marco’s career, see this exclusive article.
Anyone starting up a new company has a pocket full of dreams, but that usually only go so far without some money in the other pocket. Creators don’t always have ready access to capital and that’s where investors come in.
The experts in the Funding track at Casual Connect USA 2016‘ from both sides of the negotiating table will be focused on the hard details. They’ll tell it like it is and give the tools necessary in landing that next key round of funding.
What will it take to make sure your game will succeed? If you believe that visibility resulting from a high ranking on the app store charts is what ensures success, you are not alone. But Martin Macmillan, CEO of Pollen VC, has some information that may alter your thinking.
Pollen VC is a data-driven financial service that gives developers faster access to their app store revenues. Developers can then rapidly reinvest their earnings into their businesses, becoming less reliant on credit or investment. They can then finance user acquisition and growth securely and cost effectively.
Research from Pollen VC shows that, even without a Top 25 ranking in the app store, an increasing number of games are generating revenues of more than a million dollars a year. Martin’s session at Casual Connect Asia described how your game can do the same and how to prepare for launch to ensure success. Martin pointed out, “Recycling revenue gives you 4x more User Acquisition. More than 2000 developers makes $1,000,000 USD a year.” If you would like to learn more, watch the video of Martin’s full session below.
To read more about Martin Macmillan including a lecture from Casual Connect 2015, see this exclusive article.
On Sept. 17, 2015, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish our game, Legacy of the Elder Star, which at that point had been in development for just shy of two years. We spent the month before that preparing art assets, page copy and backer updates, and we hired a PR firm to help us get the word out.
On the fourth day of the campaign we learned that the PR guys were using some very frowned-upon tactics to promote our game. Those tactics were not in keeping with our values as game developers, so we cut ties with that PR firm on the spot. Suddenly we had to pick up all the slack for press outreach ourselves, and since that’s not something we had prepared for, we (unsurprisingly) found ourselves dead in the water pretty quickly: