这场在旧金山展开的会议的亮点在于记者Jon Gaudiosi和前EA首席执行官John Riccitiello之间的对话。Riccitiello发表了一些犀利的观点，指出手机游戏公司很难连续推出两款热作或者销量超过原作的续作。为此，他认为手机游戏公司应该建立品牌意识。
他指出，“《Clash of Clans》（Supercell作品）有可能陪伴我们25年吗？《疯狂橄榄球》已经问世25周年了。《Candy Crush Saga》明年夏天还会如此抢手吗，其公司经过IPO之后还能够每天进帐数百万美元？”
Kixeye首席执行官Will Harbin则针对免费游戏开发者为何不需要游戏发行商打开市场这一话题发表了有趣的观点。“除了你自己之外，不要寄希望于任何人。要把握自己的命运。”他称开发者必须制作出色的游戏，从玩家反馈中获取经验，失败后快速恢复并加快迭代；不要模仿他人，要有原创精神和雄心。DeNA West主管Clive Downie则提醒称，我们一天只有1440分钟，玩家在其公司游戏中平均每天投入55分钟。这占据了用户相当大的娱乐时间比例，游戏开发者应该时刻牢记这些时间有多宝贵。
问题在于，用于揭露计算等式以及实际用户获取成本的工具都不太管用。Kabam移动营销和发行副总裁Chris Pitz表示，用户获取专家就是那些以当日交易者的思维，成天观察多个屏幕的人员。HasOffers首席执行官Peter Hamilton则在一次晚餐中告诉我，他的公司有一个为用户获取主管专用的仪表盘，以便其做出正确决策。但他的公司还只是一个初创企业，也还没有创造出1000亿至3000亿美元的内容价值。
Mayfield Fun总经理Tim Chang指出，在过去两年中行业已经发行变化，开发者必须寻找替代性的资金来源（游戏邦注：例如Kickstarter大众融资平台和天使投资人），而不是寻求风投的帮助。如果你拿了风投资金，就会面临投入必须产出回报的巨大压力。Initial Capital创始人Kristian Segerstrale称我们终会看到价值达数十亿美元的手机游戏问世（游戏邦注：例如GungHo Entertainment制作的《Puzzle & Dragons》，日常收益达490万美元）。他在去年曾指出，这种大型手机游戏收益很可能超过20亿美元，令《使命召唤》等主机游戏销售额黯然失色。
Signia Venture Partners合伙人Dan Fiden表示，他为独立游戏无需多少营销成本就可进入市场的现象感到兴奋。但他也看到这一领域的成本在上升。开发者最大的机制在于制作成本为100万-1000万美元，并瞄准硬核平板电脑游戏玩家的用户。
Rumble Entertainment首席执行官Greg Richardson获得了亚洲游戏巨头Nexon投资。The Corum Group高级分析师Alina Soltys相信，我们终会看到更多交易类型，正如亚洲游戏公司可以斥资300亿美元现金进行投资一样。
Gamevil USA总裁Kyu Lee指出仅有少量游戏的公司（例如Supercell、GungHo和King）目前正在打败EA、GREE等大型竞争对手，这就说明了集中资源的重要性。
Kakao游戏业务主管Eric Choi或许是这中间最乐观的一者，他称移动通信网络Kakao Talk在不到一年时间中用户增长至1亿。韩国Google Play前10名游戏均采用了Kakao服务。这听起来很棒，但也意味着这些开发商除了向谷歌或苹果出让30%的收益，还要向Kakao交出30%的分成。这么多市场力量在蚕食游戏收益，开发者实际却不能剩下多少收益。
市场调研公司App Annie报告称Google Play在今年第二季度下载量首次超过了苹果iTunes App Store，但iOS收益仍然比Google Play多2.3倍。
博彩游戏也是本次大会颇受关注的一个话题。Betable首席执行官Christopher Griffin指出，去年Casual Connect仅出现了两款博彩游戏，但今年这一数据达到23。RealNetworks首席执行官兼董事长Rob Glaser表示，将热门的社交博彩游戏与真钱赌博机制相结合是行业的一大优势。毕竟博彩业产值达4000亿美元，在线博彩领域则是350亿美元，社交博彩游戏市场规模则不足20亿美元。在他看来，这一领域具有极大盈利潜力。
The DeanBeat: Casual Connect reveals a scary and hopeful gaming business
This week’s Casual Connect gave us a window into the state of the game industry. It looks both hopeful and scary.
The highlight of the San Francisco event was a fireside chat between journalist Jon Gaudiosi and John Riccitiello, the former chief executive of Electronic Arts. In that talk, Riccitiello made a number of sharp observations. He noted that it is hard for the mobile game companies to come up with two hits in a row or sequels that sell better than the original game. That leads him to believe that they need to build brands.
jr 6“Will Clash of Clans (from Supercell) be with us in 25 years? This is Madden’s 25th Anniversary?” he said. “Will Candy Crush [Saga] be around next summer, through the fabled IPO and still be doing a couple of million dollars a day?” He sees precious little evidence that lasting franchises are being built. Although he worked at a huge publisher, he said he doesn’t think publishing will be the same in a mobile dominated world.
He also calculates that Apple and Google have between them created about $300 billion in value since 2007 in the creation of the smartphone and tablet ecosystem with the iPhone and Android. But the app content ecosystem has created only about $20 billion to $25 billion in value. That’s a big gap, and it is akin to saying that movie theater owners create more value than movie makers. Riccitiello thinks content should be king and that smart middlemen such as monetization firms will help the content makers create $100 billion to $300 billion in value on the other side of the equation.
That is a very hopeful statement, but perhaps overly optimistic, given the challenges facing developers and publishers.
Meanwhile Kixeye chief executive Will Harbin (pictured at top) gave a comical talk (in orange pants) about how developers don’t need a game publisher to take their free-to-play games to the market.
“Don’t depend on anyone but yourself,” said Harbin, whose company makes free-to-play hardcore social games like Battle Pirates. “Take control of your own destiny.” By that, he means make great games. Learn from your players. Fail fast and iterate faster. Don’t copy. Be original and ambitious. Clive Downie, head of DeNA West, reminded us all that there are only 1,440 minutes in a day. His company’s games are played for 55 minutes on average. That’s a very large slice of entertainment time, and game developers should remember just how precious that time is.
Optimism and pessimism
Of course, there was plenty of pessimism at the event to balance out this optimism, as I saw on my own panel on the rising costs of user acquisition. Getting new people to discover your game is a challenge when your game is one among 800,000-plus on the app store. Mobile is hard because it is fragmented and you never know how long a hit will last. Developers try to calculate the lifetime value of a user. If your paying users in a free-to-play game spend $5 over the life of a game, then you shouldn’t spend $6 acquiring those users. That’s common sense. But you never know what the lifetime value really is until it’s too late.
You have to bet ahead of time what it’s going to be, said Jong Woo, vice president of business development at King, the maker of Candy Crush Saga. Facebook announced this week that it plans to help companies deal with the rising costs by promising game startups a leg up on acquiring new users for free.
The problem is that the tools for revealing the equation to you and the actual costs for acquiring users are just too opaque. If you get a picture in your head of a day trader looking at several screens all day, that’s the right image for a user acquisition specialist, said Chris Pitz, vice president of mobile marketing and publishing at Kabam. Peter Hamilton, the CEO of HasOffers, told me at a dinner that his company has the right dashboard for the user acquisition chief to make the right decisions. But his company is a startup and it isn’t creating the $100 billion to $300 billion in content value just yet.
Tim Chang, managing director at Mayfield Fund, noted that the business has changed in the past couple of years so that developers can find alternative sources of money, from angels to Kickstarter crowdfunding, instead of taking money from venture capitalists. If you take VC money, the pressure will be high to perform and deliver an exit with big returns. Kristian Segerstrale, founder of Initial Capital, said he expects we’ll see a billion-dollar mobile game in the form of Japan’s Puzzle & Dragons (made by GungHo Entertainment), which is generating $4.9 million a day in revenues. Next year, he says, a big mobile game will likely cross $2 billion in revenues and eclipse Call of Duty sales.
Dan Fiden, a partner at Signia Venture Partners, said he is excited that it takes so little to get an indie game into a market. But he sees the costs rising. The biggest opportunity is making a $1 million to $10 million game targeted at hardcore gamers using tablets.
Greg Richardson, chief executive of Rumble Entertainment, got an investment from Asian game giant Nexon. The Corum Group’s senior analyst, Alina Soltys, believes we’ll be seeing a lot more of that type of transaction, as the big Asian companies have $30 billion in cash to invest.
Richardson said he believes he will find success in patient iteration on a series of games that will bring console-quality games to smartphones and tablets. His company has been laboring for two years to get a couple of big games just right. But Riccitiello rightly pointed out that simply beefing up the graphics without improving the gameplay for mobile devices is a recipe for repeating the failure of so many console developers, who tripled their costs with graphics-related investments without tripling their revenues.
Kyu Lee, president of Gamevil USA, noted that companies with just a small number of mobile games — Supercell, GungHo, and King — are currently beating companies such as Electronic Arts and Gree. That builds a case for focusing resources.
Eric Choi, the head of the game business at Kakao, was perhaps the biggest optimist of all. He described Kakao Talk, the mobile messaging network that has grown to 100 million users in a little more than a year, as “the new El Dorado of mobile games.” All 10 of the top 10 Google Play games in Korea are Kakao games. That’s very cool, but it means developers will have to give 30 percent of their revenues to Kakao and another 30 percent to Google or Apple. That’s a lot of people taking a piece out of the pie, and there won’t necessarily be much left for the developer.
New technologies, new markets
New technologies are starting to inspire game developers. Google Glass was mentioned often during the event as inspiring a new wave of augmented reality games.
The ever-brilliant Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University said we have more than 4 million sensors on our bodies that can detect touch, and we are only beginning to make use of them with touchscreen technology. He thinks it’s wonderful that three-year-olds can pinch and zoom on a touchscreen, but he wants us all to remember that artists create their best work with a pencil or a paintbrush, using three fingers, rather than just a single finger.
Market researcher App Annie reported that the Google Play stoer exceeded the Apple iTunes App Store in app downloads by 10 percent in the second quarter. That was the first time that happened, but iOS still generated 2.3 times more revenue than Google Play.
And gambling turned out to be a big theme at the event. Christopher Griffin, CEO of Betable, noted that there were two casino game sessions at Casual Connect last year, and there were 23 this year. Rob Glaser, the chairman and acting CEO of RealNetworks, sees value on the edge of the game industry, at the intersection of the red-hot social casino games and real-money gambling. After all, gambling is a $400 billion business, online gambling is $35 billion, and social casino games are less than $2 billion. The potential to shift some of those revenues toward games is real, in his view.
Glaser’s firm plunked down $15.6 million to buy Slingo, the 17-year-old brand that combines bingo and slots. His GameHouse Casino Plus will also have a $100,000 monthly sweepstakes contest to give social casino gamers the thrill of winning real money while they wait for legislation to pass legalizing it in the U.S.
Zynga’s new chief executive, Don Mattrick, evidently decided it isn’t worth the wait. He’ll take Zynga’s resources and double down on the company’s core social poker franchise, rather than pursue a license for real-money gambling in the U.S. Zynga’s stock took a dive last week when it announced it would no longer pursue a license for real-money gambling in the U.S. But I think investors misinterpreted Zynga’s intentions. Zynga will still have real-money gambling games in the United Kingdom in a partnership with Bwin.party. And in other territories, it could ally itself with a company like Odobo, a white-label service that converts social casino games into real-money gambling games. In other words, Zynga isn’t spending a lot on real-money gambling now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t participate in that market in the future. Middlemen like Odobo, or perhaps Betable, might make it easy for them to cross into a new business. Bwin, as well, could be a partner for Zynga.
Online gambling consultant Melissa Blau said that land-based casinos are very interested in teaming up with social casino game makers. But she raised an interesting question: What happens if the regulators become worried about the dangers of addiction in social casino games, just as they are concerned about that in real-money gambling games?
Ed Fries, the former head of Microsoft Game Studios, closed the conference with a cute talk on predicting the future. He was inspired to think about it by looking at old Victorian postcards that featured art imagining what the world would be like in the year 2000. The postcards featured ideas like a shredder that would chop books into pieces and feed them directly into the brains of students. Fries noted that games don’t have to be as useful as other technological inventions. They just have to entertain us. And keep us from getting bored. Given all of the ideas I heard this week, I’d say we’re a long way from boredom.（source：venturebeat）