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  • 11/04/08 01:39 AM
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    A Look at Game Connection

    Event Coverage

    Myopic Rhino
    Game Connection is a unique speed dating event for business-focused game makers. It is a one-stop shop to meet face to face dozens of targeted potential partners involved in all stages of the production pipeline, from the concept to the outsourcing, publishing, distribution and financing, in back-to-back 30-minute meetings. Nowhere else do you get to conduct an average of 27 tailored meetings in just three days, network with the best developers, publishers, distributors and service providers of the industry who are committed to making great games.

    GC Europe 2007 by Numbers

    • 208 exhibitors (including Epic Games, Kuju, Rebellion, Quantic Dream, Massive Black, Virtuos, Widescreen games)
    • 150+ publishers/distributors (including Activision, Atari, Eidos, Electronic Arts, Koch Media, Konami, Lucas Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, THQ, Ubisoft, Vivendi)
    • 35 countries represented
    • 12 associations from 10 countries (including the UK, Nordic countries, Thailand, Brazil)
    • 94 service providers
    • 148 game development and distribution companies
    • 34 companies attending as both service providers and game developers
    • More than 5000 meetings scheduled
    • More than 220 projects posted online (games + services) including Adventure, Real Time Strategy, Sports games and more
    • 30 different kinds of services (Game Design, Graphics, Level Design, Localization, Mobile Services, Modelization, Programming, Test/QA) available to improve the quality and lower the cost of production
    • Most represented platforms for game projects : Nintendo DS, PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
    • Most represented platforms for services projects : Mobile devices, Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, PS3

    GC America @ GDC 2008 by Numbers

    • 157 exhibitors (including 10 Tacle Studios, Acquire, Mere Mortals, Pixelux Entertainment, Rebellion, Running with Scissors, Stainless Games, Team 17, Virtuos)
    • More than 80 Publishers/Distributors (including Activision, Atari, Eidos Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Bandai, Nintendo, Sega, THQ, Ubisoft)
    • 36 countries represented
    • Developers organizations and delegations from 9 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, Nordic countries, Thailand, UK)
    • 29 service providers
    • 27 companies attending both as service providers and game developers
    • About 4000 meetings scheduled
    • Hundreds of projects posted online (game + services) including adventure, first person shooter, real time strategy, role playing game, sports games and more
    • 21 different kinds of services (Character Design, Cinematics, Graphics, Level Design, 3D, Test / QA, Motion Capture, Modelization) available to improve the quality and lower the cost of production
    • All platforms and genres represented, including next-gen, handheld, online, casual (Xbla, PS Home, Wii Ware)

    Game Connection Interview: Pierre Carde

    To better understand Game Connection, I spoke with the event's founder. Here's some more background on him and the event:

    The Game Connection history began in 2001, when Pierre Carde, Director of Connection Events, decided to set up a professional event for the video game industry focused on one objective : doing business. Game Connection's first edition took place in December 2001 and attracted 27 French developers and 20 international publishers. In 2004, the Game Connection went abroad to San Francisco and joined the Game Developers Conference. Two years after, the Game Connection flew away to Tokyo and Shanghai. Initially separated, Games and Services at Game Connection have been gathered to give you a more global experience.

    Nowadays, Game Connection America and Game Connection Europe have become must-attend events in the videogame industry. With a range of 500-600 international attendees (including around 350 exhibitors/sellers and 330 visitors/buyers) and a 1 million $ average revenue generated per attendee, Game Connection is THE place to do business internationally.

    Do you see a lot of new studios signing up or is it mainly the mainstream companies looking for new contacts?

    The Game industry is a global ongoing creation process, with a lot of new games created by mainstream companies and spin off or young teams gathering to launch new (or old) ideas. We have them all at Game Connection showing what they would like to sell (projects at different stages of completion) but also a lot of companies willing to demonstrate their expertise and ready for work for hire on a game project or, in some cases, just on a single part of a game (outsourcing, Dev, Q/A....)

    It seems GC US still trails behind GC EU in numbers, do you think that's due to GC US's relative youth, the american marketplace or that GDC is pulling away attendees and GC EU benefits from being a dedicated event?

    Game Connection America is indeed younger than Game Connection Europe (it was launched in 2004 whereas Europe was launched in 2001). The fact that it is smalller is partly related but that may change in the future. Another important reason is the time distance between 2 Game Connections. In 2007-2008 there were less than 3 months between Europe and America, and in in 2008-2009, there will be more than 4-5 months. That makes a real difference, but there is something else that explains this difference. This is also due to the fact that we have had limited resources focused on the US territtory compared to its potential and that will dramatically change in the coming year. We may see the balance shift in the coming years!

    Is there any other way you think having GDC running concurrently affects GC US, good or bad?

    GDC is probably the largest "pros only" (or almost) event in the Game Industry in the world. We strongly believe that we provide GDC with the business feature it needed and it works, but you are right - in some respects, GDC is also a kind of competition for us in the way that some people can meet outside the Game Connection to discuss business. At the end of the day though, I think the "good" overtakes the "bad" by 2 to 1, for Game Connection as well as for GDC

    Can you give some detail into the process of selecting a Level Up winner? What qualities are sought after?

    Game Connection being a market, we wanted to show new and fresh ideas from younger teams. That's why we launched this LU program and gave 5 young teams a chance to show their projects or services. How does it work? Mainly by word of mouth; a lot of companies apply to the program and we pre-format the data for our advisory board to select the most appropriate concept/teams/ideas. That provides us with a ranking and we call the 5 first companies to inform them they can come for free at Game Connection. We never had to call the 6th! It seems that coming for free at Game Connection is valuable for younger companies :) We see that program as our IGF of our own but we should reinforce our collaboration with IGF because I strongly believe that what they are doing is just fantastic!

    Is there anything out there remotely similar to Game Connection? If so, how do they compare?

    We are unique :) But we have been copied many times... To be honest, our innovation at Game Connection has been introduced in the Game Industry [was already] a concept that existed in some other industries. We have seen other events occuring in London in the past, or Montreal for instance that took a similar approach - but none of them has so far reached the same size, apart maybe from Game Convention Leipzig which was not a business-only event but had a system of closed meeting booths that looked a little bit like Game Connection. Where we really make a difference is in the use of our online meeting system and its dedicated algorithm that helps each attendee to do 2 important things that are very difficult to do properly in the "classic" events: 1) You only have meetings with people you want to meet because they match your needs/expectations (you check that online on the company profile/projects) which means every single meeting is relevant; 2) You do not have to bother with your time schedule since we will optimize it for you! When your 30+ meetings will be accepted, we will use our "dispatch" system to allocate the slots according to your availibity of the show. That makes the event a bit tiring I must admit, but very profitable for everybody.

    What's a memorable GC moment for you?

    Probably the very first one, which tool place in Lyon in December 2001. When I used to work as a producer for Atari, a long long time ago, I believed such a concept may work. Realizing that it did with 25 studios enthusiastic in showcasing their projects to 30 publishers, that was kind of great. But to be honest, the most rewarding times as an organizer are at the end of the events when you see bright smiles on tired faces and also (even if it's a bit disappointing sometimes) when you get the feedback that "that game" and "this game" have been signed at Game Connection. The disappointment comes from the fact that in some cases companies generate so much business at the event that they feel it does not make sense to come again immediately... But in some respects that's good news!

    So just to be clear: you can schedule as many meetings as you can fit into a day?

    At the event you can "officialy" schedule up to 53 meetings! But we have been told by meeting addicts that some of our attendees used extra slots to try to reach the 70 limits! This is where you understand that you need to sleep well before the event. 53 Meetings is in 3 days though.

    What advantages are there of having your own social network (GC Marketplace) rather than just simply providing tools to let attendees connect via other networks like Facebook and LinkedIn?

    We do not see GC Marketplace as a Social Network really but more as an extension of the Game Connection, as a business making machine for game makers. There are a lot of tools to connect but very few who focus on deals. On the marketplace, as in the event itself, you can demonstrate your expertise and/or your projects and consult the needs of buyers. That is not the case on the "classic" networks which are not company-focused but more individual-focused. And also we know that, even if a lot of companies get all set for Game Connection events, the timing is not always perfect for everybody, and that's why Game Connection Marketplace makes sense. It is actually very much like Game Connection but you do not organize meetings, you sell your games and services (or you buy!).

    How would you like to see the GC event grow in the future?

    Game Connection has grown rapidly in the past and we've seen it evolving from a "pitch your game to your next publisher" event to a global market answering the needs of the game makers where you can find finished games on all platforms to "parts" of games (outsourcing and production-related services) and work for hire. The industry is getting more and more more complex but we will remain focused on the needs of the game makers. We do not want to go global and invite gamers or retailers at the business convention. It's focused and this is the way we plan to grow the event. We may see more and more producers attending the event to do their shopping... But I believe that our future is also online with the Game Connection Marketplace growing rapidly over the years.

    Has anyone ever found your merged-man image to be creepy?

    So it worked :) Partnering with somebody, it's somehow to merge (at least partly) isn't it? And also, a good communication is a communication you remember and, to be honest, we hesitated when the final pictures came on the screen... But your question is very reassuring. It shows that it attracts attention and this is what we expect from marketing don't we? :)

    If you missed the Europe Connection this time around, get your act together for GC America 09, being held during GDC in March.

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