Last week, the invite-only Game Developer Forum 2015 conference took place at Aalto University in Finland. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s just a few of the highlights from the small, but intimate and cozy, event.
The Game Developers Forum conference isn’t like most other games related conferences in the Nordic. For starters, it is a non-profit endeavor, and secondly, the primary focus is not on organizing a huge event, but rather on knowledge sharing.
“It is about being able to get people together and share knowledge about the industry. And the difference from the larger events out there is that at those events you’ve got every man and his dog essentially coming in; You got students, you got public, you’ve got game companies, you’ve got investors. All kinds of people coming together in one place. Which is great, and it serves a purpose. What you lose, however, is this intimate interaction and knowledge sharing.”, GDF Europe 2015 organizer, Alexander Reay says to Nordic Game Bits.
For many games studios, one of the primary obstacles is raising money for developing the game of their dreams. This, Reay says, is what GDF 2015 hopes to help on its way by connecting investors such as Northzone with game developers within the Nordic games industry.
“We allow for companies to discuss, for example, about investment. We help Northzone get access and thus help them help game developers. But in a way that makes sense for both parties. We are facilitators of global thinking and knowledge sharing.”
The growth of the Nordic games industry has been enormous over the past few years. But as always, growth can happen too quickly, and the fear of a “bubble” is always just around the corner.
“Talking specifically for the games market, it has grown extravagantly, and with any kind of rapid growth, you’ll eventually hit a bubble.”, Reay says. At the same time, however, he is optimistic about the future for the industry as a whole – even though outside investments into the industry may start to decrease in numbers after an eventual bubble.
“Yeah, of course it is going to level off, but I think we’re in an incredible fast growing market. Mobile gaming especially. I think that is going to grow and grow and grow, and it is going to keep growing.”, Reay says.
Bubble or not, the most important thing is for game studios to just keep producing and publishing new titles, and never just focus all of their attention and energy on one single title. There is no true formula for creating a successful game, so you just have to iteratively keep moving forward.
“Go into Rovio and say: How did you get the success that you got? They won’t know for sure. What it shows is that the experimentation works, but in order to experiment properly, you have got to look at development from the user’s point of view. And there is no magic time at which you can simply say “now I know what the user is thinking” – it that happens iteratively. So the games companies have to start thinking about this. It is not about over-engineering your game and making it perfect; it is about getting titles out and allowing your customer base to fuel the development.”, Reay explains.
“Understand that this is not just about a game, it is an entire industry out there. You need to understand that industry, and that’s what GDF is about – the whole conference is about a change in mindset as much as it is about knowledge sharing.”
One of the companies speaking at GDF 2015, Fiksu, also believes that the industry may be heading towards a bursting bubble, but when that happens, Fiksu believes that the Nordic will be ready for it. Primarily because the market is already consolidating, meaning that when an eventual burst happens, the Nordic games industry will still stand strong.
“It feels like the momentum is going to burst, and Nordic game studios have reached a certain saturation level on the market where they are currently present. But the big markets are not yet saturated and this is a natural direction where the Nordic studios will turn with their strengths next”, Karina Terekhova, Sales Manager at Fiksu, says.
“It looks like the Nordic studios are consolidating their strengths and also financing to conquer the rest of the world, so to speak. “