March 21, 2006
Game Developers Conference 2006 - Day 2 Report
Today was definitely a lot more interesting than yesterday as more people were starting to file into the show and the place was starting to "get busy". More people were attending the conference today ... a lot more ... but still the overall attendance was a drop in the bucket compared to the masses who are expected to show up tomorrow when the "real" show begins. Since the last two years was a mad sea of people I can only imagine what will be in store for me. Oh well, onto the show!
I spent most of my time attending the "Casual Games Summit 2006" which has been a mainstay of GDC for the last couple of years and is one of the more exciting tutorials since this market is currently experiencing such explosive growth (one such example, the huge success of Xbox Live Arcade). I particularly enjoy the structure of the summit with each speaker only given around ten minutes to present their information to the audience. The result is a machinegun fire of information from a wide range of presenters.
Although many of the presentations were extremely informative I thought that the presentation given by Greg Canessa, GM of Xbox Live Arcade, was the most revealing. According to Greg, Xbox Live Arcade to date has seen 3 million downloads, a 20% average conversion rate across all titles, and 60% of connected Xbox 360 customers download Arcade titles. These are some really impressive numbers; just to give you some perspective the average conversion rate for PC casual game titles is around 1% or less. On average for every 100-1000 people who download and try a casual game only 1-2 people will actually buy the game. So a 20% conversion rate is quite an eye-opener and a testament to the future of "casual" gaming on future console systems.
Also, in case you were interested, the top performing titles for Xbox Live Arcade have been Geometry Wars, Marble Blast Ultra, Gauntlet, Smash TV, and Zuma. Didn't expect Marble Blast Ultra to be ranked number two, but I don't think Geometry Wars surprised anyone.
The remaining presentations focused on various trends found within the casual gaming market today: Increasingly complex "casual" games, a continuously growing and expanding market, and steady public awareness of the casual game market. But perhaps the most telling line was uttered by Dan Neel from WildTangent when he said "Today's hardcore gamer is tomorrow's casual gamer". Dan went on to explain as the hardcore gamer becomes gets older and takes on more responsibilities they will have to turn to casual gaming as they simply won't have the time to play games 20+ hours per week. Enjoy playing World of Warcraft and Oblivion while you still have the time you hardcore gamer you!
Otherwise today was pretty similar to yesterday; very interesting if you like attending game tutorial sessions (which I do!) but pretty boring in terms of announcements. However, tomorrow the "main" conference begins and the news and information will be fast a furious. I also have my breakfast with Peter Moore, Chris Satchell, and Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb tomorrow morning, as well as several additional meetings. So expect a very tired Steve to present you with a recap of the day's events.