GDC 2009 – Gaming is alive and well!

April 1, 2009

What do you get when you mix a bunch of geeks with babes in white spandex, big news announcements and a handful soapboxes, with a few dozen bottles of sake sprinkled in? The annual Game Developer’s Conference, of course!

BPR hit GDC in style this year, relocating our entire games team to San Francisco for a week to accompany two hot game companies to a slew of meetings with press and analysts. We had a great time along the way, thoroughly enjoying the food, drink and weather San Francisco has to offer. We even took in some of the sights and culture, finding ourselves smitten with the infamous Dog, Cat, Rat guy of Union Square. But that’s another story all together.

Having been to many previous GDC shows, I was sad—but not surprised—to see a slight decline in activity and attendance. Though the show felt quieter than usual, it was still buzzing with plenty of game geeks (I say this with absolute love and adoration for the bunch) proudly showing off their masterpieces and sharing their vision for the industry with anyone who would listen. Think Services, the media group responsible for the show, claimed more than 17,000 attendees this year, which seems to illustrate that the industry is still going strong.

Undoubtedly, the most talked about topic at the show was the controversial unveiling of OnLive, which was met with both excitement and harsh skepticism. While OnLive’s future in the games world has yet to be determined, we tip our hats to its PR team for a job well done. The indie game scene grabbed attention as well as it continues to bring hit games and draw industry respect, supported by the GDC’s Independent Games Festival.

As expected, many of the sessions this year focused on how to survive tough economic conditions. However, from where we sit, the online games arena remains a sweet spot. Our client Jagex, publisher of RuneScape and the soon-to-be-released sci-fi MMO MechScape, is breaking record profits and continues to grow. Online publishers, including client WildTangent, are benefiting from business models that enable low-cost entertainment to the masses, helping keep gaming alive even when consumer budgets are tight. All in all, the games industry appears to be resilient, a feeling reinforced through conversations with press, analysts and our clients.


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