What is Slush Anyway?

The annual Slush conference in Helsinki, Finland, took place last week. The conference successfully gathered more than 10.000 entrepreneurs, investors, and others with an interest in startups in a large exhibition centre between November 18th to 19th.  But should you care as a game developer?

 

Branded as a “startup” conference, Slush might not seem as the place to go for most Nordic game developers. For many Finnish game developers, however, Slush is becoming one of those events of the year that you don’t want to miss out on.

Not because Slush is a purely games-related conference. In fact, gaming is only is only a small part of the overall “startups” theme. But with an entire Tuesday afternoon dedicated to game development talks on one of the primary scenes, and with booths for games companies to show off their latest games, Slush is gradually positioning itself more and more as a great place for game developers to network, get in touch with media, find future partners and employees, and potentially even get in touch with an investor.

 

Among some of the speakers on stage on the games track at Slush was Lasse Seppänen, the CEO and co-founder of Playraven, and Harri Manninen from Sharkpunch.

Lasse Seppänen

Lasse Seppänen from Playraven

In his speech, Lasse Seppänen talked about the future mobile games, sharing some of the thoughts that went into developing Playraven’s first title, Spymasters.

Lasse’s main point was that you cannot possibly predict what sort of game will be wildly popular and profitable in 12-24 months by looking at what is currently trending on the top grossing list of the app stores. “The current top list represents the past, and the future is not going to be defined by old games.”, Lasse explained.

 

So instead, game developers should start exploring new and different genres. You have to start exploring if you want to find the next big thing!

“There is no way you can map the new world without going there. So we just have to make games that are different and unique. That’s what we do at Playraven, and that’s what I call upon all of the developers here today to do.”

Read more about: Playraven’s success with going against the Trends

 

IMG_20141118_124549Harri Manninen started his speech with a very motivational walkthrough of how the Sharkpunch team had started working on an html 5 engine that worked without a plugin a long time ago, only to later be acquired by Disney, where 50+ games ended up using their technology. After Disney, however, the team wanted to get back to the roots of game development. So they started a new company, Sharkpunch, focusing a lot on getting really close to their community. As Harri explains, “The way we do open development is that we give a lot of updates to connect with our fans.”.

And open development is indeed a necessity according to Harri, who believes that “game discovery is a problem for both players and developers, and getting featured by Apple is probably not a sustainable business model. We need a way for players and developers to connect from day one. We need a game discovery method that is visual, engaging and social.”

To counter these issues, Harri therefore ended his speech off in an exciting manner by announcing the company’s latest product, Playfield.io, which is a social discovery network for games! You can signup to be notified when the website launches, right here.

 

Announcements such as Harri’s are no rare sight at Slush, where Nokia also announced an Android-powered tablet this year. Sticking to the games industry, one of the much anticipated announcements of this year was Next Games revealing their first own IP. The very young company is currently working on a “The Walking Dead” game, but up until Slush this year, they were yet to announce their own IP.

The studio’s first game is called Compass Point: West, and is a 3D action strategy game set in the Wild West. As the name suggests, Compass Point: West is only the first in a series of four games within the “Compass Point” franchise, and the first game is set to launch February 2015.

Read more about: Next Game’s acquisition of Finnish GameWorks

 

Some of the most interesting talks at Slush didn’t take place on the stages, however, but at the hundreds of booths where game developers and other tech startups showed off their latest products and games. I had a lot of great talks with especially Finnish game developers at Slush, and if nothing else, the conference is a great way to get better at pitching your game concept.

Networking is important, and Slush is a very unique conference because of the diversity among the participants of the conference. You not only get into interesting discussions with your fellow Nordic game developers, but also with investors, publishers, and yes, even potential customers.

Authors
Sune Thorsen

Sune is not only a gamer and writer who wishes his keyboard-typing-speed would translate directly into Nintendo 64 controller agility, but also the co-founder and CEO of NordicGameBits.

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