Since 2001, Game Connection has been one of the top events, if not the top event, focusing on the B2B side of the games industry. As a result, it offers a perfect environment for not only networking and connecting with other professionals in the industry, but also creates an environment where actual business (partnerships, deals, etc) can get done. Over the last few years, Game Connection has continued to evolve quite a bit, as they’ve integrated more professional learning into the program via their highly regarded master classes which has, consequently, broadened what’s on offer for participants.
I recently had the chance to catch-up with Game Connection founder and innovator Pierre Carde, who offered his insights on what makes their events unique, the highly innovative, jammed-packed program planned for this year’s Game Connection Europe edition on 3-5 December and the exciting changes currently underway in the games industry.
For all those who are unaware, how did Game Connection develop?
From the beginning, Game Connection meant to be a market place where developers could effectively meet publishers and find a way to make their ideas come to life. We started as a medium-sized convention in France filled with exceptional new tech and IPs, a goldmine for AAA publishers and an exceptional springboard for Indies. At that time F2P wasn’t even conceivable and mobile was only a tiny share of the pie.
As the industry changed we grew with it, building a show which was no longer exclusive to developers and publishers, but open to service providers, distributors, business and marketing services where all platforms were represented, as the digital revolution was fast approaching. We crossed the European borders and expanded into the Silicon Valley, bringing our 30-minute back-to-back meetings concept alongside GDC (Game Developer’s Conference). That’s when we started to be recognised as THE B2B event for the games industry, where a worldwide audience is always expected and business actually gets done during 3 days of intensive networking.
What do you think makes Game Connection’s events unique versus other conferences in the sector?
The concept and the attitude. The concept is unique because we are the only event that optimize your meetings on-site thanks to a dedicated online match-making system that we developed ourselves. When you come to Game Connection you spend no time wandering around: you know exactly who, when and where you are going to meet the decision makers you want, also because we target very precisely our audience. You’ll never find students or non-professional people at Game Connection and you’ll always receive your printed agenda, full of meetings, once you come pick-up your badge. Besides that, the way we organize this show is different: the atmosphere is very relaxed even if we are still in a very professional environment. One of our attendees once said “It’s like getting to see your extended family” and that’s exactly the spirit. Our team is devoted to both Game Connection’s mission and vision, because we all feel like we are an essential part of it. There is no gap between the show management and the attendees, we are not numbers, people recognize our faces after all those years and we want things to remain this way.
What do you see as the big highlights at this year’s Game Connection Europe, coming up on 3rd – 5th December?
We are extremely proud of the conference program that we finally packed: we have more than 75 conferences and panels some of which are in some very innovative format. I am thinking to the “Pecha Kucha” presentation by The Ant Farm for example, where a bunch of creatives will have just a few minutes to present what inspired them most and then let the audience lead the discussion. This goes far beyond the regular speech + Q&A that people normally find elsewhere, as we really feel like there is a need of interaction during a lecture and we want speakers and audience to get together in reaching new level of knowledge. The speakers line-up for our one-day Master Classes then it’s just amazing, with C-level managers coming from Sony Online Entertainment, Applifer, Ubisoft, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog and many more. Check with your own eyes on our website if you can’t believe it!
What generally are your thoughts on the state of the Games industry? What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities?
Plenty of challenges await: self-publishing, crowd funding, the discoverability issue, Fee2Play and Free2Win models… Now that next-gen consoles have been announced, it’s like Christmas everyday: new IPs rise from the darkness, top level mangers change and companies switch their strategy in a blink. It’s a war somehow, but certainly a spectacular one, as creativity and innovation are the most powerful weapons. People is in need of content right now and if you add this to new technologies as the soon-to-released Game Stick and Oculus VR, we can’t expect less than magic in the upcoming months.
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