Well, we here at Social Times and MediaBistro helped wrap up the Social Gaming Summit last week, and judging from the number of a-ha moments, the perpetual contact exchanges, the sense of camaraderie and plethora of Social Gaming Summit tweets, it looked like people got something out of the conference. The speaker sessions were lively and filled with interesting anecdotes, and some of the best moments of the show were the passionate speeches about how social games truly affect people. Below, I summarize some of the best moments and link to our coverage of the show.
At a high level, some of the most important themes of the Social Gaming Summit were the ideas of social games that live outside of Facebook, the importance of quality over quantity for better ARPU, the game-changing nature of Facebook credits and evoking emotion in games. We saw several of the smaller and mid sized developers especially touting all of these elements, and in the tradition of social and indie gaming, these up and coming developers are eagerly looking for the answer as to how to create games that raise the bar. Some companies to watch in the coming year are HitGrab, Wonderhill, Watercooler, MyYearbook and Playfirst. I will be posting interviews with leaders from each of these companies soon.
Without further delay, here are some links to the highlights of our Social Gaming Summit coverage this year. Please browse all the links and leave comments for the writers. Also, follow me on Twitter for updates.
Social smoshal.. it’s all the same.. right? Panelists gathered yesterday to discuss the nebulous distinction between casual and social games and the impact of ‘social’ on the industry. One thing was clear, however: those who ignore social risk monetary and growth bereavement. The panel was moderated by James Au of Ohai and joined by Richard Fields of Mindjolt, Jeff Revoy of Real Networks, Dennis Ryan of PopCap Games, and Mitali Pattnaik of Playfirst.
International opportunities in social gaming are increasing by the day. With Zynga threatening to leave Facebook, should others explore life outside of Facebook as well? How can developers leverage the experience and hard work of established companies in order to venture into foreign territory? Facebook’s international growth has inspired the likes of Mixi in Japan and RenRen in China to take a more open-platform approach to developers. In this panel, Kai Bolik of Gameduell, Arthur Chow of 6waves and Patrick Liu of Rekoo converged to discuss the feasibility of expansion opportunities for developers.
Game developers are on their toes as the distribution landscape continues to shift. How can a company jumpstart its game and gain strong distribution? Ro Choy moderated a panel today with Kavin Stewart of LOLapps, Jia Shen of RockYou, Keith Rabois of Slide, and Rex Ng of 6Waves, revealing insights into the gauntlet of virility, their experiences and the opportunities that lie outside of Facebook. The conclusion: Facebook is still the utopia for developers, atleast for the foreseeable future.
The second day of SGS2010 kicked off with Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed ventures moderating a panel of social gaming titans. Mark Skaggs of Zynga, Christa Quarles of Playdom, Peter Relan of YouWeb, and Sebastien De Halleux engaged in a lively discussion of how they keep players coming back and what they focus on to increase retention. The audience listened to the awe-inspiring statistics , pleased to hear that room for engagement and innovation still remains in this premature yet rapidly evolving industry.
Yesterday, leading iPhone games developer ngmoco’s Jason Oberfest discussed Social Games Across Platforms with Kara Swisher, and revealed a lot of interesting insights about the challenges. He talked about payment systems, the split between ads and virtual goods, design decisions on the iPad and more. Read more below.
Family Feud by iWin is a relatively new social game on Facebook that’s broken all the rules when it comes to best practices. The founder of iWin, David Fox, talked to us about the reasons that make this game a successful brand extension on Facebook, debunking the myth of branded IP’s failing on Facebook. The audience gained valuable insight through the talk although duplicating Family Feud’s success for other branded IP’s will not be an easy task.
Social gamers casually plow their farm while hardcore gamers gaze at them, waiting to pounce on them with mythrill daggers. Luckily social gamers have all their facebook friends they can call for help. Andrew Busey of Challenge Games, Jim Greer of Kongregate, Andrew Sheppard of Watercooler and Susan Wu of Ohai gathered today to discuss the differences between hardcore and social games and their lessening distinction, especially due to technological advances.
Albert Lai and Jefferey Tsang from Kontagent gave a talk this morning at the Social Gaming Summit about measuring the health of your social game, and it was packed full of interesting statistics and observations. Most interestingly, they listed the top ten metrics that should be used by gamers.
Rixty Founder Ted Sorom, Sean Ryan of Zeus Research, Danny Shader of Kwedit and Vikas Gupta of SocialGold engaged in a lively discussion, led by Charles Hudson, about alternative monetization methods for social platforms like Facebook. As social gaming gains popularity, developers have more at stake to be able to effectively monetize as much of their audience as they can. and these companies look to help developers do just that.
Jeff Cook, founder of MyYearBook, showcased MyYearBook as an up and coming social network and a place to meet new people. Founded 5 yrs ago, the social platform has grown to 80 employees and generating roughly $20 million revenue a year. Standing in stark contrast to Facebook where users are bound by their real social graph, MyYearBook will focus on content discovery, user compatibility, dynamic stream interactions and more.
Also, during the show, I worked with the team here at MediaBistro.com to set up interviews with many of the speakers and attendees, and discuss their involvement with social games. Look forward to those interviews, as they each highlight the business and personalities of the guys who run their social gaming businesses. We’ll post our first video interview shortly, with Ted Sorom, the co-founder and CEO of alternative monetization service Rixty.
Thanks to all the team at Social Times, AllFacebook, MediaBistro, Charles Hudson and everyone else who helped make the event into what it was. I look forward to working together again at the future gaming summits and beyond.