The editor of the Pocket Gamer, Craig Chapple, listed the main trends discussed at the last GDC (Games Developers Conference 2017).
The East goes to the West
It happened before. Eastern giants like Gree and DeNA were making progress in the western mobile marketū As a result they were forced to retreat and regroup.
But companies from Japan, South Korea and China continue to move to the West and learn from the experience of pioneers. During the GDC, the influence of NetEase, Netmarble, Tencent and other similar companies was obvious.
NetEase, which published the game Onmyoji, all week shared secrets, a global strategy and development experience for mobile and VR platforms with developers from around the world. For the first time NetEase was present at a foreign independent forum. The Chinese publishing house also announced its intentions to publish the hit Onmyoji in the west.
Lineage 2 success
Netmarble, in turn, used the Epic session time to announce plans for the worldwide launch of Lineage 2: Revolution. This mobile RPG earned 176 million dollars for the first month after the launch in South Korea.
Publishers such as iDreamSky and Shinezone also sought potential partners during the conference. The latter subsequently receiving more than $ 58 million to finance investments and acquisitions.
Nexon Korea became a partner of the British developer of games in the genre toys-to-life PlayFusion, and Chinese Zhaomi Group and Kee founded a merger and acquisition fund (M & A) for video games for 360 million dollars.
At the end of thå week, Nintendo launched Switch, which shows excellent sales. A few days before, the console giant had held a special session “Changes and constancy: like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild crosses the tradition.”
VR and AR in full swing
Hardware for virtual reality showed not so big sales this year; Long waiting for the launch of key devices.
But this does not stop companies developing related technologies. The GDC Expo floor was filled with VR developers, representing devices from simple tools to weapons for virtual shooting.
Within two days the VRDC conference was held, at which issues of virtual and augmented reality were discussed.
Niantic co-founder Phil Keslin came on the scene during Google Day and said that Pokemon GO overcame a 650 million downloads milestone. The players walked 8.7 billion kilometers in total – more than the distance from Earth to Pluto.
At the session “Growth of the VR ecosystem in 2017”, Viveport President Rikard Steiber proclaimed virtual reality as the next mass media platform after PC, Internet and mobile. He added that next year Vive plans to realize the effect of a full immersion in virtuality – the controllers will be the bodies of players.
Founder Schell Games Jesse Schell (Jesse Schell) also hopes for the potential of VR. In the lecture “Lessons learned from thousands of virtual worlds” he said that, despite the problems VR has, the technology is waiting for a bright future.
During the GDC, several key announcements took place. Epic said that it will give developers 250 sets of Rift and Touch as part of the Unreal Dev Grants program.
Google also did not miss the opportunity to brag. At the Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona at the same time as GDC, its representatives said that the company shipped 10 millions Google Cardboard. What is not less interesting, applications for the device have downloaded 160 million times, 30 of them have reached the figure of one million downloads.
Oculus step forward
After that it became known that Oculus reduced the total price for Rift and Touch controller by $ 200.
We believe that a low entry price will quickly attract consumers to VR on PC. This is good for the whole community, but especially for developers. More users – higher potential sales, easier matchmaking, better game communities and, as a result, more investment in games.
Jason Rubin, vice president of content for Oculus
Delivering Google Cardboard and lowering the price of Oculus Rift does not guarantee VR success, but it’s clear that companies are still looking for ways to attract users to the building ecosystem more efficiently.
It can not be said that VR and AR were as interesting as last year, but so far they are still in the trend. And the technologies enjoy considerable support.
Unity grows, its competitors too
Games made by Unity were downloaded 16 billion times in 2016, which is 31% more than in 2015. Unity CEO John Riccitiello said that in 2016, 38% of all mobile games in the world were made on the company’s engine, an increase of 34% compared to 2015.
The number of mobile devices reached by games on Unity in the last quarter of last year reached 2.6 billion. It’s a billion more than in the same period last year.
To establish itself as a mobile leader, Unity announced a series of upcoming updates. They include a render based on physics (physically based rendering), global illumination (global illumination) and codeless IAP. Unity representatives also talked in more detail about the partnership with Xiaomi, which helps games on the engine To the Chinese mobile market.
Other companies also made big announcements. Epic Games said that based on the Unreal Engine 4 South Korean hit Lineage 2: Revolution will be released all over the world.
A few days before, Epic also announced a new free-to-play game for PCs and mobile platforms on UE4, – Battle Breakers.
The GDC also featured the King’s Defold and Amazon Lumberyard engines. And the company Silicon Studio has announced a new game engine Xenko for mobile and VR-devices.
If you recall that recently also released GameMaker Studio 2, GDC showed that the competition in this area is still high, despite the impressive achievements of Unity.
Product live operations
In the active operation of the product (live operations) for successful mobile developers and publishers, there is nothing new. But at the GDC they shared how a good strategy of this approach has become the key to increasing revenue from games.
Running Angry Birds 2 from Rovio was not a failure, but also did not change the world. But instead of taking on the next project, the team from Stockholm spent time refining old and creating new features.
The result of the strategy change was the hit in the 60 top grossing apps of the American App Store. In March 2016, Angry Birds 2 fell below the 150 place.
At the GDC, representatives of Rovio said that its revenues grew by 34% in 2016. A positive result was shown by the game division of the company, which brought 159 million euros. The developers believe that the main reason for the growth – in past games, such as Angry Birds 2.
Ethan Levy, responsible for game design and monetization in N3twork, led the session “Five lessons in 12 months of active operation of Legendary: GOH”. He talked about the key aspects, the updates of which gave a clear increase in user spending and engagement.
After the first in-game event, the studio received an instant increase in the players’ involvement and since then has launched the events every week. It can be a weekly boss, content, with limited access time like a special dungeon or crusader events.
At the same time, Levi warns developers: if you do not change events, the gain will eventually fall as the interest of players decreases. It is important to update the events.
Among the other lessons presented are the creation of events with leaderboards that encourage competition and the importance of guilds that successfully use many mid-kor games.
Levy summed up the phrase “it takes time for great achievements,” emphasizing that active handling of the product is very useful.
Rovio and N3twork are not the only companies that talked about active operating. Joe Raeburn from Space and Om Tandon from Digit Games Studio also read reports on this topic.
Good old trends
Despite all the announcements and stories about the trends on this GDC, it was noticeable that they did not make any serious changes.
Of course, there is progress, and VR and AR More “on the rise” due to recent launches, but the industry is not shaken by the changes. Influence of the East have increased, as well as the presence of VR. But virtual reality has ceased to be something new for developers, kits for them have been available for years.
The biggest news of that week, absolutely predictable, was launch of the Nintendo Switch, which took place on March 3, the last day of the conference. In addition to the lecture about Zelda, the Japanese company was not significantly represented.
There is nothing wrong. Perhaps, new trends will be announced at GDC 2018.