We spent a good part of last week attending Game Connection Europe 2012, which took place on the 28th – 30th at Paris’ Porte de Versailles. This year’s installement saw the launch of several great new elements including, new content via a games marketing track, more workshops, and awards for the industry’s best games marketing campaigns. However, at its core, Game Connection is about ensuring that the industry, large game studios, distributors, games services firms, and burgeoning game studios, get the opportunity to come together, network and, ultimately, do business. Some key highlights / takeaways from this year’s edition include:
- The games marketing track, particularly the Marketing Awards, was a great add: For the first time this year, Game Connection decided to integrate a marketing track into their program. In a time when the gaming space is overloaded with titles, increasingly focused on freemium models, and (in the case of console game developers) seeing massive numbers of consumers migrate to cheaper platforms, games marketing is probably more important than ever. The key adds to the program were the day-long game marketing master class and the very well-attended awards ceremony which gave awards to marketing campaigns in everything from social media to experiential marketing to PR.
- O Canada: Canada has become well-known in recent years for its growing strength in game development. Several games studios have a major presence there and having been shifting more development work there in recent years. As Canada has been growing pretty healthily despite the crisis, they hope to keep up the momentum by attracting even more foreign investment and high-skilled talent. As a result, Canada goes all out in their efforts to attract talent which, with three people from their delegation, was on fully display throughout last week. Although the economic situation is quite different between France and Canada, Canada definitely could teach France a thing or two about how to attract investment and top talent.
- The ‘meetings’ element, while at times a bit overwhelming, worked well: Unlike other conferences, meetings play a central role at Game Connection. One thing that is definitely a positive is that Game Connection offer a range of options to gaming companies, from large booths to small tables/stands to conduct meetings. Talking with several studios, this format was really useful and effective for them. Game Connection’s meeting app / scheduler, although a little buggy at times, proved to be an invaluable tool as it was hard to get fixed meetings without using it.
- Games Accelerators offer interesting alternative : As lack of funding is a never-ending challenge for startup and even more established studios, even smaller scale investments coming from angel investors or accelerators can make a real difference. One of Europe’s first games accelerators, Estonia-based GameFounders was very active at this year’s conference looking for games startups for their year 2 program. The deadline to sign-up for their program is December 7th. If you’d like to apply, you can do so here.
It makes a lot of sense that France, a country that has and continues to be a major force in the games industry, hosts a conference of this magnitude. This event coupled with various other games conferences and events, including Paris Games Week, SNJV’s Webgame Conference and various games events, and the Charente Region’s Videogames Economics Forum, are an important part of reinforcing France’s image as one of the key epicenters of the games industry.