Triplepoints of Interest: Jan.29

In this week’s TPoI, GDC withdraws award for Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, Ubisoft cancels Rainbow Six Siege price hike, and EA CEO Andrew Wilson defends the company’s current games lineup.   

GDC Rescinds Pioneer Award for Nolan Bushnell Due to Past Sexual Misconduct  

The Game Developers Conference announced in a blog post on Tuesday the recipients for the special awards at the event, Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, Double Fine Founder Tim Schafer, and Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell’s nomination for the award drew a huge amount of criticism from members of the industry, which The Verge collected and featured in an article which detailed reports of Nolan harassing and sexually exploiting women. Glixel reports that GDC acknowledged the feedback and has decided to rescind his Pioneer Award nomination. Nolan Bushnell also came out with a message on his Twitter account praising the conference’s decision to rescind the award and has apologized for his past transgressions.  

Ubisoft Withdraws Rainbow Six Siege Price Hike In Response to Community Backlash

Ubisoft’s tactical first person shooter Rainbow Six Siege has built up a large community over the last 3 years, with the game receiving regular updates and re releases throughout the game’s lifespan. While fans have generally enjoyed the updates that Ubisoft have brought to the game, a recent price increase announcement drew criticism from the community. Gamesindustry.biz explained that the price increase would affect all retail copies and would raise the price of the base game from $40 to $60. Paste Magazine reports that the developers have retracted their decision and are now offering rewards for player who play before the next content expansion as a way to give back to the community.

EA CEO Defends Company Line Up

During the company’s quarterly earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly defended the studio’s recent releases, praising his employees for their hard work and the diversity of content they have put out. Kotaku reports that while critical reviews of Electronic Arts recent releases haven’t been overwhelmingly positive and some titles have underperformed, EA’s stock as continued to rise and the company plans to continue developing new titles while employing the same design strategies. Variety recently covered the company’s decision to reintroduce microtransactions into the controversial title Star Wars: Battlefront II so that it aligns with their current design strategy. While the company has prospered and generated lots of revenue due to big budget launches and microtransaction sales, this has come at the cost of their image, with Comicbook.com reporting that EA was named one of the worst companies in the world in Wall Street’s newest ranked lists, which cross references customer satisfaction surveys, employee reviews, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index to find out which companies are disliked the most.  

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – WEEK OF FEB. 27

With the madness of GDC dying down, we here at TriplePoint thought we could sigh in relief. Little did we know…This week’s TPoI features PSVR’s success, Twitch announcing that it will sell games directly, and of course, the launch of the Nintendo Switch! What a week!

How Impressive Are Sony’s ‘Surprise’ PlayStation VR Sales, Really?

In the four short months that PlayStation VR has been available, it has already sold over 915,000 units – beating even Sony’s own projections. The New York Times reports that even the head of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Andrew House, had doubts regarding the PSVR and advised a slow approach towards production. Despite this, the PSVR managed to outsell both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive which moved a total of 663,000 units combined. TechCrunch provides insight into PSVR’s strong market performance, pointing out that the PSVR is cheaper than its competitors and an accessory to the already successful PlayStation 4 with over 50 million units sold. In addition, Forbes highlights that the PSVR’s purchase rate is less than 2% when considered alongside the total number of PS4s sold. Beneath all these numbers, however, is the fact that PSVR’s success is a boon to the VR industry and will help it develop faster. In an interview with UploadVR, HTC Vive China expressed this exact sentiment while congratulating their competitor on its success.

Twitch partnering with game devs, studios to sell games on site

Love to donate to your favorite streamer on Twitch? Now you might be able to get a game with that money! According to Polygon, Twitch is edging into the online marketplace for video games, but with a twist. Instead of a simple click-and-buy market, Twitch will allow its users to purchase video games right from their favorite streamer’s page. To sweeten the deal, Twitch will contribute 5% of the sale to the streamer and give the purchaser a digital Twitch Crate, which will contain a randomized item such as a chat badge or game-specific emoji that you can use on the platform. The Verge reports that Twitch’s move into the marketplace will help streamline the purchase process as many gamers watch streams before making the decision to buy or pass up a game. By allowing its users to purchase from the site and contributing a portion of the sale to the streamer, Twitch hopes to be one step closer to being the ultimate hub for gaming on the web.

Nintendo Switch Sells Out All Over The World

Finally! It’s the day that everyone has been waiting for – Nintendo Switch launch day! All the anticipation ends today as every major retailer has stocked their shelves with the new portable gaming system from Nintendo. Or does it? Chances are, if you don’t already have a Nintendo Switch in your hands, you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer. Forbes is reporting that the Nintendo Switch is sold out around the world and to expect a trickle of inventory as Switches will continue to fly off the shelves in the upcoming months. According to USA Today, some gamers lined up for more than 12 hours in order to get their hands on the highly coveted device. It’s no surprise as the Nintendo Switch launches with Breath of the Wild, which received a perfect 10 rating from GameSpot. So if you don’t have the Switch yet, keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled for restocks from retailers, and if you did manage to get your hands on one, happy gaming!

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 18

The Pokémon craze continues to hit the United States — and now in several countries including Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan!

This week in TPOI we’ve recapped, at a high level, some of the most positive and unique Pokémon GO milestones generating publicity. In other key industry news, Microsoft has announced the Xbox One S release date, Telltale has debuted a first look trailer at its upcoming Batman title and we’ve learned GDC submissions for 2017 are now open.

Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 18

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 6

What is everyone spending their summer 2015 playing? I just need a reminder that it is summer since it’s gray and chilly here in San Francisco. For those of you mobile folks, who has tried to stream your gameplay? I really wonder how many people would tune in to watch birds get flappy or angry. I know I would!

The rise of streaming mobile games

Sony announced a partnership with Twitch to stream mobile games from Xperia devices. The Xperia exclusivity is due to the fact that the streaming app is developed by Sony and not Twitch, according to SiliconAngle. Writer, Eric David, asks whether there is an audience yet for mobile game streaming, seeing that PC still dominates Twitch. Twitch, on the other hand, believes that creating as many avenues as possible to stream games on a wide array of devices is necessary to serve the community properly.

Your weekly VR report from Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida

GamesIndustry International caught up with Sony Computer Entertainment president, Shuhei Yoshida, to hear his take on the state of the VR industry. He discusses Sony’s focus on VR content at E3 versus GDC’s focus on the hardware itself, emphasizing the need for swift turnaround in profits for developers creating games for the headsets. He also explains why virtually no headset maker has discussed price points yet despite most release dates being set for as early as Q1 2016.

Bet to make eSports bigger!

There is already no question that eSports is a global phenomenon. Will the age-old pastime of betting on traditional sports establish itself in the video game space as fast as competitive gaming did? VICE believes it will based on companies like Unikrn receiving large sums from investors and its ability to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual viewers of eSports.

The Early (Access) Bird gets the worm…or does it?!

DayZ’s creator, Dean Hall, presented his insights on the pros and cons of using Early Access as part of a game launch’s strategy. According to Gamasutra, Mr. Hall believes that Early Access allows developers a chance to receive authentic user feedback, but can also set wrong expectations for the game at launch. He used Kerbal Space Program as an example of a game that benefited from Early Access as it allowed the game to improve into the experience it needed to be, while delaying and launching the game as a fully finished product might not have given the game room to grow.

Photo from Digital Trends

GDC 2012: TriplePoint Client Preview

TriplePoint is bringing the heat to this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC 2012). And by heat, I mean a menagerie of clients with cool games and gear. (Obviously.) People keep asking what we’re up to, and it’s no secret, so… OK, actually,  there are some secrets. If I told you everything in this preview, what would be left for next week? Let’s just call this a sneak peek and get going already.

TriplePoint’s GDC 2012 client catalog:

In alphabetical order, because we love all our clients equally…

Frima (Multiplatform)

Frima Studio is flying in all the way from Quebec City Canada to tease a variety of titles in their original IP lineup including:

  • Lives & Death: A dark, adventure game in development with comic book legend Marv Wolfman for XBLA and PSN. A trailer, screenshots and concept art will be available.
  • Nun Attack: A tower offense game in development for iOS that puts the player in control of an elite squad of attack nuns. Extensive screenshots and character bios will be available.
  • A Space Shooter: A retro arcade style shoot em’ up available now for PSN, iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. Playable iPad demo available.

Frima’s booth will be located at Kiosk #10 inside of GDC Play. Contact zfuller (at) triplepointpr (dot) com for appointments.

Papo & Yo (PSN)

Papo & Yo, the PSN puzzle platformer already getting nods as one of 2012’s most anticipated titles, will be on the GDC show floor in Sony’s PSN section, showing a new gameplay demo. As Quico, a young boy, players travel through the surreal world of Papo & Yo with companions Lula, a robot, and Monster, a monster. Need assistance getting in on all this awesome? Contact joleary (at) triplepointpr (dot) com.

Paradox (PC)

Paradox Interactive is doing 2 cool things at GDC that you should know about. THE FIRST COOL THING: Showing off four indie games at the oh-so comfortable Paradox loft on O’Farrell and Powell, not far from the Moscone. Three titles being shown are unannounced; one of them is the new project from the Magicka development team. And they are:

  • A Game of Dwarves, from acclaimed independent developer Zeal Game Studio
  • Project “JFK” by Arrowhead Game Studios, creators of Magicka
  • Project “Revenge!” by Brazilian dev team Critical Studio
  • Project “Silverado” from Zeal Game Studio

THE SECOND COOL THING: Paradox is hosting a multiplayer event on Tuesday March 6th at 4pm! The game being shown is War of the Roses (from Paradox and Fatshark). It’s basically going to be a kick ass LAN party with beverages and what not. Think: Battlefield meets medieval combat. Want more details? Need some help? Hit up dmartinez (at) triplepointpr (dot) com.

RocketChicken (iOS)

Developers from RocketChicken are flying in from the great white north (or just Vancouver, if you prefer) to demo their new location-based ARG iPhone app at GDC next week. An ARG iOS app? Yup. It’s called CodeRunner and, in it, you get to be a badass spy. You get to interact with OTHER badass spies. You can to leave “dead drops” all around the real world (which can be physical or picture clues left via riddles). AND the game has incredible production value, from voice acting to video.

Furthermore, I think you should check this out because our content manager has been running around San Fran all week setting up geo-locations for the demos. I need him back, and you need this game. CodeRunner details are here. Contact pklugman (at) triplepointpr (dot) com for appointments.

Shadow Government (iOS)

Play the news, rule the world. That’s right, you heard me. Shadow Government is the brain child of Playmatics, one amazing development team and a heap of government data from the Millenium Institute. It’s a little hard to explain, which is why it’s great news that the game’s creators are giving a talk next week to tell YOU all about it. Meantime, read more here.

Shadow Government is a reality-based social game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and is set to enter closed beta next week. In addition to formal GDC talks by one of the Playmatics founders, Nick Fortungo, you can also catch the creators AND THE FIRST EVER PUBLIC DEMO at the Swiss Game Arcade on Tuesday evening. RSVP for that, stat. If you’re a reporter and you want to meet with the development team outside the Swissnex event, please contact kate (at) triplepointpr (dot) com.

Sketch Nation Studio (iOS)

This iPhone app is more than a game – it’s a toolkit that allows you to build your own games, then sell them for REAL MONEY on the ACTUAL APP STORE! Draw your game’s characters and scan them in, or create them using the in-app painting tools. Then create your game, whether it’s a shooter, free-runner, platformer, racing game, the sky is the limit! It’s totally free, and players can earn in-game currency by selling their hand-drawn assets in Sketch Nation Studio. For more info, please contact rjones (at) triplepointpr (dot) com.

SweetLabs (Pokki)

I said SweetLabs, not sweetbreads. This company is sweet nonetheless, and they’ll be showing off their new Pokki platform next week in the Intel booth (#1024 ) during show hours. Oh but THAT’S NOT ALL, friends. SweetLabs will also be hosting a panel on Tuesday as part of the Social & Online Games Summit (with Dan Hsu as moderator and execs from EA, Digital Chocolate and Kabam). During GDC, SweetLabs will also be announcing the winners of their $50K developer challenge, honoring top original game submissions. You can schedule a chat with SweetLabs co-founders by contacting dblackwell (at) triplepointpr (dot) com.

What does Pokki do? It brings awesome apps to your desktop. That’s what.

More, you want more detail? Oh alright. Pokki’s app platform is transforming the “desktop” experience with games from the likes of Kabam, EA and Digital Chocolate, in addition to other multimedia and communications apps. That means better discovery and increased engagement for game publishers through one-click access to content via desktop apps. Pokki enables developers to create full-featured desktop apps for Windows 7 using HTML5, which currently includes apps such as EA’s Madden NFL Superstars, Kabam’s The Godfather: Five Families, Rdio, Gmail, Facebook and Twitter.

Was your favorite TriplePoint client not on the list? It doesn’t mean they won’t be at GDC in some capacity next week. Maybe their stuff was simply TOO secret to talk about yet ;]

Growing Up with Games: the Bright Future of “Retro” Gaming

Duck Tales for NES

Like many of the people who’ve found their way into the video games industry, I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can recall. I have incredibly fond memories of playing Duck Tales on the NES at a friend’s house, staring at the black-on-green screen of my original Game Boy for endless hours on long car trips, and spending lazy summer afternoons exploring every nook and cranny of Super Mario World and Mega Man X.

In the last year or so, I’ve found myself turning back to these memories more and more often, largely because the entire industry seems to be doing the same thing. Hundreds of classic games have already been repurposed for XBLA, PSN, and WiiWare, and a number of new titles seem to be pulling their design inspirations directly from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Heck, both Mega Man 9 and 10 pull their graphics directly from that era.

I have no complaints about this trend, but I keep finding myself coming back to one question… where is this all coming from? Is it simply the result of shared nostalgia among an aging consumer base, or was there genuinely something better about games “back then?” I’m not sure I had a good answer to that question before last week, but a few of my conversations at GDC have provided some new insight into the matter. To put it simply, most of us just don’t have as much time to play games as we used to.

While there is undeniable value in titles with “hundreds of hours of gameplay” like Dragon Age: Origins and WoW, the average gamer in their 20’s and 30’s may not have more than a handful of hours each week to sit down and play. This generally leaves them with two options: play through “big” games in bite-sized chunks or look for smaller gaming experiences that fit their schedule. The growing popularity of Facebook gaming, an increasing focus on smaller downloadable titles, and the overwhelming success of “casual gaming” companies like PopCap says quite a bit about how many people are choosing the latter.

What’s not apparent at first glance is that these smaller gaming experiences are, in their own ways, just as compelling as their larger counterparts. They may not have 20-to-50-hour storylines and sandbox gameplay, but titles like Mega Man 9, Castle Crashers, Bejeweled, and Braid are focused, fun, challenging experiences that tap into the core of what it means to be a game. The reduction in scope also lets developers do some absolutely amazing things that wouldn’t work in a larger title, and that innovation has never been more apparent than it was at the Independent Games Festival during this year’s GDC.

MONACO: What's Yours is Mine
IGF Award Winner Monaco: What's Yours is Mine

The IGF booth was consistently the most packed, energetic, and exciting stop on the show floor, with lines of developers, press, and other industry folk in front of every demo station. From the unflinchingly retro difficulty of Super Meat Boy to the “why didn’t I think of that?!” thieving gameplay of Monaco and the atmospheric platforming of LIMBO, the IGF games were an unquestionable display of the entertainment that can still be drawn from retro-inspired gameplay.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Despite the humble beginnings of most of the IGF finalists, a number of them are headed to one of the three major consoles before the end of this year. Super Meat Boy is slated for release on WiiWare and XBLA, LIMBO is coming to XBLA this summer, Joe Danger is on its way to PSN, Shank is being published by EA for XBLA and PSN, and Shatter is already available for PSN. A number of the other titles were also being demoed with console controllers, so don’t be surprised if more IGF entries are added to that list before the year is out.

Does all this retro love mean that big-budget games are on their way out? Not in the slightest, especially considering the sales numbers of Modern Warfare 2. That said, as the gaming population continues to grow and age, their taste in games must necessarily continue grow and age with them. Ironically, this may cause more developers to look back to their own fond gaming memories for inspiration… and if that means we keep getting titles like the ones at this year’s IGF, we’re all in for a treat.

Waggle of Choice: Will Motion Control Decide the Future of Gaming?

[UPDATE – IGN’s editors weigh in on the PlayStation Move.]

Advances in hardware technology are encouraging gamers to get off the couch, but do the games actually warrant the price of admission (and broken lamps)? New gesture-based controls for Microsoft and Sony are novel, but in order to be truly innovative they have to benefit the gameplay. Otherwise these features will quickly be written off as tacky add-ons designed by marketing experts to keep consumers jonesing for the “next big thing.”

A few days ago at GDC I observed/tested a variety of new high-tech gaming devices, but wasn’t bowled over by any of them. Sony’s wand controller, now officially titled Move and set to launch this fall, does not seem to offer much beyond Nintendo’s Wii remote, which debuted three-plus years ago. It’s more responsive and nice-looking, but as with any of these new peripherals, there’s no way to judge the hardware in a vacuum. Rather, the software will determine the Move’s fate, and even if it’s compelling, to me this feels like a “day late, buck short” response from the historically-conservative Sony. Even if EyePet: Move is an amazing experience, the PlayStation does not stand much chance of moving in on the Wii’s immensely diverse userbase. Just because grandma can hold her own in Wii Tennis doesn’t mean that Little Susie is going to take an interest in dad’s Blu-ray playing, manticore-slaying PS Triple.

Generally speaking, hopes are higher for Microsoft’s camera-based Project Natal, but without substantial software demos, skeptics are outnumbering believers five-to-one. With that in mind, E3 2010 aught to be pretty exciting this year. With all three console giants committed to increasing console lifecycles, these unique add-ons allow developers to experiment with new game designs without starting from scratch on a brand new SDK.

While I can’t fault either company for wanting a piece of the motion-control pie, it seems that an entirely new kind of peripheral would garner a great deal more excitement and attention. As Dan Ackerman points out on the CNET Crave blog, the Wii owes a great deal of its success to its affordability and Nintendo’s reliable, family friendly reputation.  The Wii-mote/Natal/Move debate will push gaming even further into the mainstream, but isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all of gaming’s future. The dual analog-stick controller has gone largely unchanged in the last eight years. As opposed to the waggle revolution, I’d much rather see a design overhaul for “normal” controllers wherein each button, stick, d-pad and trigger is put under the microscope and thoroughly tested and refined. Tomorrow’s best console games will be played via a truly innovative controller that will take cues from the most unique and high-end PC gaming peripherals. Its weight and sensitivity will be user-customizable like today’s gaming mice, it’ll have a variety of force-feedback options and triggers will alter their “give” according to the on-screen action. Yes, this technological marvel might cost a hundred bucks a pop, but it’ll be the official controller in the inevitable two-console future – the gamepad of choice for the decidedly hardcore console.

Pretty, Pink and Pretty Smart: Computer Engineer Barbie’s Strides Send Girls on the Path to Silicon Valley

Computer Engineer Barbie (image courtesy GeekSugar.com)At this week’s American International Toy Fair, the Mattel Corporation announced Barbie’s latest career as a computer engineer. Decked out in a binary-print tshirt, leggings and sensible(ish) shoes, Barbie sports a Bluetooth headset and carries a pink laptop (with “Barbie” written in ASCII on the screen, cleverly enough). The Barbie® I Can Be…™ Computer Engineer Doll was created by Mattel to inspire a new generation of girls to become part of this growing profession. Let’s hope Barbie can use her computer engineering skills to inspire more girls to become part of the video game profession, a subset of the computer industry that currently has women comprising only 5% of its ranks.

Barbie’s inspiration notwithstanding, women have already begun taking a more active role as both developers and consumers of video games. The Guildhall at SMU, a graduate video game education program, has recently announced that 20 percent of their incoming class is female, and the Electronic Software Association’s most recent survey of gamers has asserted that 43 percent of online players are women. (The latter statistic could most likely be attributed to the popularity of casual games, but also may include games such as World of Warcraft, which has a surprisingly high female gamer population.)

For those who are interested in becoming part of the rising tide of women in the video game industry, the Frag Dolls blog has posted a list of 50 games industry women from whom to draw inspiration, including Corrinne Yu, the Principal Engine Programmer for Microsoft’s Halo Franchise Team and the first female Technical Lead for Microsoft Game Studios, as well as noted game designer Jane McGonigal and Fiona Cherbak, current head of the Women in Games Special Interest Group (SIG) for the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

Fiona and the Women in Games SIG are spearheading initiatives to help inspire girls and women to take a more active role within the video games industry. Most recently, she and the SIG have created GameMentorOnline to “meet the growing need for peer-to-peer mentorship support in games,” as well as the Games2Girls Program Committee, (chaired by gaming industry veteran Margaret Wallace), which is working in conjunction with the Games Research Lab at Columbia in NY to develop course curriculum to help promote video games as a profession to middle school girls.  Other important programs include the Indie Women’s Game Design Competition, with winners to be announced at GDC 2010, and the Women in Games Preservation Committee, which showcases important women in games through its database and Wiki.

Join Barbie and the thousands of real-life women who are breaking the mold in the computer engineering and video games industries, one pink high heel at a time. For more information, check out the Women in Games SIG, or attend sessions at the upcoming Game Developer’s Convention in San Francisco.

GDC 2010 Registration Open, New iPhone and Social Games Summits Announced

gdcsavethedate_easelRegistration for the 2010 Game Developer’s Conference is now open. GDC 2010 will take place March 9-13, 2010 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

GDC Alumni can save 50% off the full price registration until December 17th. Early registration discounts end February 10th, 2010. Regular registration ends March 7th. To register, visit the GDC website: http://www.gdconf.com/attend/passes.html

GDC Summit Call for Submissions is also open through November 13th. GDC will feature two new summits in 2010: the iPhone Games Summit and the Social & Online Games Summit. The other summits include the AI Summit, GDC Mobile/Handheld, Game Localization Summit, IDGA Education Summit, Independent Games Summit, and the Serious Games Summit. For more information, visit http://www.gdconf.com/conference/summits.html.

GDC China 2009: Adventures in Shanghai

gdc_china_09

After a brief hiatus in 2008, GDC China returned in 2009 with a three-day conference held in Shanghai, and TriplePoint was there to soak it all in. We were bowled over by Shanghai’s incredibly dynamic spirit and international influences, not to mention some of the best food we’ve ever consumed (seriously). There is so much to learn, and the trends below represent the tip of the iceberg; we can’t wait to return next year and continue our education about the world’s largest gaming market.

Here are a few key takeaways from our experience:

The Chinese market presents massive opportunities

The opportunities for Chinese developers and publishers within China are vast, and many are choosing to focus on this market rather than looking Westward. With over 330 million Internet users and an audience passionate about online games, the challenges of localization, culturalization and operating in the US don’t need to be solved right now. The US market has almost 200 million Internet users, and a developer must capture at least 2% of the online gaming audience to become profitable, whereas developers in China must capture only 0.2% – 0.8% of the online gaming market to become financially successful. And the market is growing rapidly, with a projected size is $900 million by the end of 2009, up over 39% from last year. That’s not to say that our market doesn’t matter: Some say that the Chinese online gaming space could be saturated in two years, prompting movement into the US and Europe, and the leading companies are exploring opportunities now.

Government politics play a large part in the games industry

The political situation surrounding World of Warcraft in China was a hot topic while we were at GDC, and remains so, with operator NetEase caught in the middle of a battle for control between the Ministry of Culture and the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP). The outcome remains to be seen, and will impact any games operated in China. For the latest, we recommend this article: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hU1YNKGtJmAZA0DGIvMUXrAyurlwD9BOPRIO0

Avoiding risky business by playing it safe

In the Western world, original IP is king. We associate creativity, value and integrity with original IP and unique gameplay. In Milan, Italy at the second annual Italian Game Developers Conference in early October, we witnessed the value and importance associated with creating and owning original IP. In the Chinese gaming market, it’s quite different and according to several sources, developers struggle to secure investment funding for their original IP. Instead, proposing to develop a product similar to an existing successful game demonstrates less risk to potential investors and results in a higher chance of receiving funding. Additionally, from a marketing perspective, it’s generally believed that a game in line with existing trends will garner success in the market.

Roots run deep and come to life in games

Chinese history and culture are common themes in online games, as reflected by such titles as Fantasy Westward Journey, Sangokushi Online, Zhengtu and Sho Online. During conversations with developers and publishers, we heard many times that games with references to Chinese history or culture will not resonate with Western audiences, and therefore have little relevance for other parts of the world. Korea-based publisher, Joymax, has experienced success attracting international audiences with their free-to-play MMORPG, Silkroad Online, which draws in players from 180 countries from around the world. It appears that there is a potential opportunity for Chinese developers to explore publishing historically-based games in other markets.

New platform developments on the forefront

Around the time of the conference, Unicom announced the launch date for the iPhone in the Chinese market, opening the door to this mobile platform for game developers in China. While iPhone game development wasn’t a focus at the conference, it’s certainly a new market opportunity and it will be fascinating to see how the platform fares. Additionally, we spoke with several developers creating social games, primarily for Facebook, even though the site is blocked in China. Chinese developers are testing out social games by launching them on U.S.-focused social networks, which they then monetize, and leverage the results for building social games for the Chinese social networks. A big difference between social networks in China and the U.S. is that the Chinese social networks require that you submit your social game application for review before it is published on the site, so testing and fine tuning applications in the open publishing platform of Facebook is highly valuable.

What’s next? And the big opportunities

It was apparent at this year’s GDC China that there are numerous opportunities for both Chinese and U.S. game developers in each market and that both sides may be looking to expand in the near future. The general feel from the conference was that China is looking forward to the opportunities presented within the games market, such as new platforms and new distribution channels. The attitude can be summed up by a response to our appreciation for the Shanghai skyline: “It’s impressive now, but just wait until 2010!”

Written by Kate Pietrelli and Eddiemae Jukes

Entry way to Shanghai International Convention Center for GDC China 2009.
Entrance to Shanghai International Convention Center for GDC China 2009.
With badge and lanyard in place, TriplePoint's Kate Pietrelli is ready to attend GDC China 2009.
With badge and lanyard in place, TriplePoint's Kate Pietrelli is ready to attend GDC China 2009.
TriplePoint's Eddiemae Jukes and Kate Pietrelli visit the Yuyuan Pagoda in Shanghai.
TriplePoint's Eddiemae Jukes and Kate Pietrelli visit the Yuyuan Pagoda in Shanghai.

TriplePoint Second Annual GDC Party a Success!

View from the TriplePoint Balcony
View from the TriplePoint Balcony

TriplePoint held its second annual GDC party at our offices on Union Square, and this year was even bigger and better! Hundreds of guests from the video game industry – including journalists, developers, publishers and investors – turned up to take a respite from the frenetic pace of GDC and enjoyed drinks, a live DJ and our fabulous balcony view of San Francisco.

The main office featured drinks and the musical stylings of San Francisco’s DJ DTek.  The conference room was turned into a Rock Band venue where heated battles ensured between “aspiring” singers and musicians. The highlight of the evening was our penthouse balcony overlooking Union Square, where guests gatherd to take in the breathtaking views of San Francisco and network with their fellow industry vets.

Mingling in the Main Office
Mingling in the Main Office
guests mingling at the triplepoint party
More guests in the main office
Guests on the TriplePoint balcony
On the TriplePoint balcony
DJ DTek rocks the house
DJ DTek rocks the house