Moore’s Law is still in full-swing since Gordon Moore first made his now-famous observation in 1965. Technology continues to change at a nearly breakneck pace – not only getting smaller and faster, but also more advanced and intricate. From artificial intelligence to high fidelity, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. In Casual Connect Kyiv’s Tech track, attendees can expect to receive numerous insights to help them keep on top of the latest technology so they can make their games the best they can be.
Alexis Kennedy has a storied career in gaming, literally. He has done guest-writing gigs for such prominent studios as BioWare, Telltale, and Paradox – and as the creator of Failbetter Games, he grew a two-person startup into a studio with 16 employees and over $1.3 million a year in revenue. As part of the Industry Insights track, Alexis will open the conference at Casual Connect Kyiv with a keynote lecture on game narratives and how to better marry stories with game systems. Many other experts will join Alexis in sharing their expertise with attendees over the conference’s three days of lectures and workshops.
By Karyn Murray, COO, eLearning Studios
In 2014, eLearning Studios was invited to be a partner in a European partnership project called Stay Active which was a project looking at reducing stress in older workers in the workplace. As part of this project we worked collaboratively with Dr. Gail Steptoe-Warren, Occupational Psychologist and Principal Lecturer at Coventry University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and Nigel Wilson Principal Lecturer at Coventry University to research and explore ideas for the development of a new game designed to reduce stress for those over 45. This initial project was later to evolve and develop into Soar: Tree of Life.
Virtual reality has brought about a plethora of opportunities for hardware manufacturers, advertisers, content providers and many other types of business in the games industry. With these opportunities come legal risks too which is where firms like Harbottle & Lewis can provide specialist advice. Daniel Tozer, a Partner at Harbottle & Lewis, spoke at Casual Connect Europe 2017 on the key questions facing developer’s real-world responsibilities in relation to VR.
Oskar Burman is CEO of Fast Travel Games, a company they founded with some friends from EA DICE during the summer of 2016. As CEO of a small company, their role includes everything from janitor to project manager and business developer. Fast Travel Games is a VR games studio, and after twenty years in the game industry, Oskar found the opportunity to do VR, something they felt compelled to try. “It’s been a childhood dream,” they say, “and the future is finally upon us!”
During Oskar’s years in the game industry, they have been Development Director at Avalanche Studios (the creators of Just Cause), COO at EA Easy, a part of EA DICE, and General Manager of Rovio (creators of Angry Birds 2). All of these positions built the experience that led to the position Oskar fills today.
These days the most enjoyable aspect of Oskar’s work is “finding the magic in VR.” At this stage all the rules are being established; this is a new medium they are exploring, trying to understand which genres will work and how the UX/UI should be structured.
Fun Times Making Games
Oskar has been fascinated by gaming from childhood and by age twelve was already making games. These early games were in Basic and were small games for family and friends. The experience was incredibly enjoyable, particularly the ability to control the computer.
By Valentina Ferrari, Consultant, Executive Search
Based on the reports of several intelligence forecasts, the virtual reality (VR) industry is growing strong and is only likely to become stronger in the future. For instance, according to Greenlight Insights – the global leader in virtual reality and augmented reality market intelligence – by the end of 2017, global VR revenues will reach over $7 billion and, by the year 2021, revenues will skyrocket to a total of nearly $75 billion.
This is a very bold prediction and one that not everyone is buying into. According to an article by Todd Spangler on Variety, Spangler – a NY Digital Editor – is highly skeptical that VR will ever hit mainstream because he believes that for most regular non-tech and non “bleeding-edge creative” people (the vast majority of us), while virtual reality is fun and enjoyable, it simply isn’t a must-have product the average person needs or wants in their home.
The Roadblocks of VR Mainstream Success
In addition to Spangler’s belief that most people aren’t likely to make VR a part of their staple entertainment diet, he also points out that Millennial and Gen Z consumers (the demographics most likely to jump on the VR bandwagon) have short attention spans. This could be a problem, considering – at the moment – immersive VR entertainment experiences require the user to wear a VR headset, demanding their full and undivided attention.
Why might this be problematic? Spangler points out that according to Deloitte’s 2017 “Digital Democracy Survey”, 99% of Millenial and Gen Z viewers take part in an average of four additional activities (e.g. texting, social media, shopping, etc.) while watching TV.
With roadblocks such as these, Spangler doesn’t see how virtual reality could “deliver enough bang for the buck to ever become a mass consumer market.”
Several Industries are embracing VR
Although the NY Digital Editor has made some valid points, the fact remains that there are several industries rushing to embrace VR. In addition to gaming, some of these include: Retail, Advertising, News, Music, Hollywood Films, Adult Entertainment, Travel, Space Travel, and Health Care.
Even the gambling industry is seeing the “casino connection” between gaming and VR, noting the many ways that it can make use of the tech to enhance the experience of customers in the land-based gambling arena. More specifically, VR may benefit the rise of skill-based gaming and the inclusion of VR booths could entice non-casino gamers into the casino.
Moreover, it’s not just the land-based casino market that’s latching on to the idea of an immersive gambling experience. An in-depth look at VR casino games, reveals that virtual reality and gambling is a growing trend among casino operators (e.g. SlotsMillion) and software developers (e.g. NetEnt, Microgaming and Lucky VR) alike.
Huge investments are being made in Virtual Reality
It’s no secret that giant corporations like Facebook, Samsung and Google (each of which have their own VR headsets) are making massive investments in the industry to evolve their own products and customer base. In fact, earlier this year, Co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said that Facebook plans to invest more than $3 billion over the next 10 years in VR to bring the experience to hundreds of millions of users.
With so many diverse industries taking a step in the VR world, experts in these sectors clearly feel that the possibilities virtual reality has to offer are worth the risk of exploration and investment. Such a broad interest says something positive about the future adoption of this tech.
The bottom line is due to the fact that virtual reality entertainment is still in its very early stages, it is impossible for anyone to know if it will one day garner mainstream success. Still, positive predictions about the industry, huge corporations investing billions into the VR market, and more industries embracing virtual reality, could be a sign that there’s more to VR than it being a hyped-up short-lived fad.
GameUp is an event dedicated to the local game dev community, and is the forum for professionals to meet and present their games to the public.
Entertainment for kids is a rich and complex market. At Casual Connect Europe, a session titled Anticipating 2017 Trends…and What to Do About Them, Dubit Global Head of Research Peter Robinson illustrated the when, where and why of entertainment for kids. During this session, Peter described how to turn forecasts into strategy in development and marketing for modern day kids.
Analysts try to predict where technology, platforms and content are likely to go in the coming year. With new findings from Dubit Trends’ international survey of 2 to 15-year-olds, learn how you too can take advantage of the fact that “Gaming is a main thing kids use the tablets for” and “1/4 of kids media time is on games.” To learn more about kids entertainment consumption and how to understand what is coming next, be sure to watch the video of Peter’s session from Casual Connect Europe.
Stifled, a mic-enabled sound-based stealth thriller by Singapore developer Gattai Games, won Best Game Design and Most Innovative Game. In Stifled, players use echolocation with both sounds made in the game universe and by the players themselves using a microphone, to find there way around the world, but they must be careful not to attract attention to creatures in the darkness. The game came be experienced at Steam.
It can be really tough to break into the Asian market, maybe even mysterious. Although there is a large difference in user behavior between Western and Asian players, Youzu Interactive has been very successful in localizing games. They have even been able to make it into the Top 10 in more than 60 countries overseas. In a lecture at Casual Connect Europe entitled Going Global – Local Operation Experience for Over 100 Countries, Yuli Zhao focused on what developers should do rather than what they shouldn’t do. Here is a key finding that Yuli described: “Because there are a small group of deep pocket players, whale players, in Asian games, when we bring the game to Western markets we don’t want to make the non-paying users feel bad about it so there are some items which is to price extremely high in our previous version in Asian market. Actually, we divided these items into smaller packages so that when the players pay for the virtual items, they will view the pricing as not that high but in reality, they need to buy the whole group of virtual items to get the final ones.”
Three of the top world markets comes from Asia are China, North America and Japan. Here are three findings which Yuli highlighted:
- Style is not fine Art: Glowing effect and outstanding outfit affected why they got features by Apple.
- Compatibility: Fast frame speed on lower end mobile phone at 20+ a must.
- Localization: extend the life cycle of the game by changing rewards, difficulty by country and the number of incoming game events.
For more useful tips on how to break through the cross-cultural barrier, see the full lecture below.