GDC 2014 – “I’ve got code older than you”

Before heading over to my first GDC since 2011, I noticed some of the grumpy hits on the grumpy developers group on Facebook suggested making t-shirts with the slogan ‘I’ve got code older than you’. It would have been apt as I really did feel like everyone’s dad whilst wandering amongst the Expo booths with their hipster staff.

San Francisco was hotter than I had ever experienced around GDC time and this made me suitably grumpy, but it was probably the most constructive GDC I have ever attended. Maybe this was due to not partying every night and having a clear head, or maybe it was because we had complete product to sell – I’m not sure, but we came away with lots of potential opportunities.

Main points I took from the event?

– VR is everywhere, not only Rift but Sony’s Morpheus along with controllers to go with them such as Sixense’s STEM. All interesting stuff
– Far too many ad networks. Funny how one mentioned a CPI of $5 when they only pay us $1 for showing the ad on our own titles. Thieving ****s!
– More women present than I have ever noticed before
– Everyone looks around 10 years old (or maybe that is just me)
– How many people are looking for content to publish in numerous territories and platforms

Arguably the biggest thing I got was the complete realisation that if you want to make money in games you should not bother making games, you should be making services that you can sell to games developers. GameDev is not a massively scalable business apart from the odd few and it is far easier to gather investment for scalable service companies than for game development. Sad but true. I guess I would advise any startup to consider entering the service side rather than the content side moving forwards – the odds are better.

Before GDC week, I was over in San Francisco with Cross Creative as part of our California trip. During this time I was fortunate to visit some pretty amazing companies like Pixar, Chartboost, Youtube, Eventbrite and the amazing VFX guys at Atomic Fiction. Again, the core impression I got was that getting investment in the area was far easier than in Scotland purely due to the amount of investors looking for the next ‘big thing’. Maybe Independence will help us out with more tax benefits for investors?

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