Develop Conference 2015 - Day 3 Highlights - ArticleDan Carreras , posted on 18 July 2015 / 2,673 Views
Rami Ismail: Fuck (Yeah) Customers
Rami Ismail kicked off the third day of Develop Conference 2015; an outspoken indie aficionado if there ever was one, Ismail took to the stage and, with his eccentric style, went about making controversial statements.
The first of these was “I don’t like games except when I’m developing them”. Underneath the bluster, Ismail was making a point about how the internet and gaming communities as a whole make you believe that you must play games in order to make them, but that need not be the case. He cited numerous examples of friends who work as programmers at studios, but don’t actually like games, they simply do the job as they like the challenge.
Ismail then went on to dismiss the notion that “you need your customers more than they need you”. He said that if someone is hateful in your community, you have every right to ban them, as the amount of time and effort they would waste on your part is money thrown away. Ismail was largely successfully at convincing the audience of this way of thinking, and in turn got a round of applause when he said that blocking someone isn’t robbing them of their right to free speech; they'll simply have to say it elsewhere.
Finally, Ismail talked about the subject of consumers vs. customers. He argued that 'consumers' is a term that means nothing; it’s your customers you should care about. A customer is someone that buys your game, or intend to in the future, whereas consumers are potential buyers that may never buy it. Ismail argued that it’s better to focus your efforts on existing customers rather than attempt to convince non-players to buy your game.
Whilst there were some things Ismail said that I disagreed with (I feel like being a gamer does make you a better developer), it was nonetheless an interesting talk and Ismail definitely came across as a force to be reckoned with.
Simon Roth - Breaking the “Lucky” Indie Myth
Simon Roth (Miai) devoted his keynote to talking about why the industry loves to discuss indie games in general, and how to make your title stand out from the crowd. He started off his talk by disclaiming that indie games shouldn’t look to be controversial for controversy's sake. His example was that of Carmeggedon, which made its gruesome nature such a heavy selling point that it got an AO rating and then became almost impossible to market.
Roth noted how the media love to build up this idea of a one person team managing to take on the industry, but the truth is far from that; indie developers more often than not build up their own companies slowly and become successful after thoroughly examining what their audience wants.
For every one-man hit game like Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone, there are countless indie games that fail. Roth discussed the ways in which his own studio (Machine Studios) manages to stay afloat whilst hiring three members of staff, with particular emphasis placed on gathering statistics.
These statistics helped him to find out, for example, which reviewers generated the most additional sales for his title. He also noted that, when it comes to marketing your title, it's best to create multiple trailers and screenshots so that you can then find out which ones garner the most attention and then go from there.
How Speakers Felt About Key Topics at Develop 2015
VR: Many of the speakers at Develop 2015 had a lot to say about VR. Most were very positive, saying that it really will change the future, not only in video games, but in society as a whole.
There was a general note of caution, however - we probably won’t see VR truly take off for another five years and expectations should be tapered accordingly.
Indie: Indie games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the key speakers noted that indie studios are increasingly filling holes in the market. We're also starting to see the emergence of a new AA class of game.
Twitch/YouTube: Expect developers to increasingly try and take advantage of this trend by creating games that focus almost purely upon being repeatedly played on streaming video sites. Rocket League was cited as a good example of how it is possible to create a game that will be popular with streamers outside of the heavyweights like LoL, CS:GO, and DOTA.
F2P: Free-to-Play isn't going anywhere either. Expect these titles to become even more addictive, but for the current cash grab problem to be scaled back. Many developers and speakers believe that Free-to-Play games are the future of the gaming industry, and that we need only look to Japan for an indication of where the western market is heading.