Last week I was at the Casual Connect conference in Seattle. This is the premiere conference for casual games, and this was the American version (the European version is in February in Amsterdam). As I tend to go every 6 months, it is a good barometer of what is going on in the industry, as you can see what the big issues are in the industry by the changing agenda at each conference. As detailed before it’s an extreme high growth industry, and the amount of attendees seems to grow exponentially. There were a couple of trend which I observed at this conference which I thought were noteworthy in terms of how the industry is changing;
1) Advertising has become the topic on everyone’s list. There are a lot of eyeballs playing games, and everyone is looking for the most effective way of monetizing their audience. Also whilst doing this people are looking for the most effective standardized placements in order to do this, so that the game ad is part of your normal IAB subset (maybe a MPU is the best format?). in-game advertising has a lot of buzz around anyway (from sponsorship through to pre and post roll ads, it’s interesting to see how people can change the formats so that they’re most complementary and least intrusive.
2) Google is getting interested. A true barometer of the interest in the sector is that Google is developing a specific Adsense product for the gaming sector. For us this is interesting for selling unsold inventory at higher CPM’s, and for targeting specific sites which could have an appreciative audience.
3) The last conferences were dominated by a focus on multiplayer games and community, this was less apparent. Maybe nobody has as yet cracked it?
4) There still was a focus on micropayments and the whole Korean/eastern avatar and purchasing items for it. No one had a concrete plan of how to put it into play, or any cases of how it had worked outside of the East, however the extra revenue stream is exciting for most. NHN had a very interesting presentation about how they make it work.
All in all- good conference, 1,300 attendees is unreal especially considering this is only the 4th version.