Liveblogging John Schappert’s GDC Track Keynote: “Why ‘Free’ and Cross-Platform Is The Future of Gaming”

4:37 PM: Schappert has left the stage. The keynote is over.

4:36 PM: Schappert is back on stage, saying Zynga is looking forward to playing with other developers. He just took a picture of the audience.

4:35 PM: Zynga is now teaming up to publish games from Konami, Rebellion, and Playdemic.

4:33 PM: By partnering with other developers, Zynga is offering these groups access to a captive audience on Facebook, back end tech support and the analytics at Zynga’s disposal.

4:31 PM: Dyer noted the key challenges facing game developers are a) user acquisition b) scale performance and availability and c) engagement and retention.

4:30 PM: Schappert said Zynga wants to have a billion people playing games together and just welcomed VP of Platform Partners Rob Dyer to the stage.

4:29 PM: Angry Birds has been downloaded approximately 790 million times, with 80 percent of the downloads being with the free version

4:28 PM: Since putting Words With Friends on devices other than the iPhone, the game’s DAU has grown from 2 million to over 9 million.

4:26 PM: In order to make a game accessible, Zynga is putting games on as many platforms as possible.

4:25 PM: “Zynga’s reaching gamers by making games that are social, accessible and free.”

Schappert just noted that one in ten Words With Friends players “hook up.”

4:21 PM: Schappert disagrees with the “Dark Ages” perspective, thanks to how many people are playing games. He thinks we’re in the middle of a golden age.

4:20 PM: “It seems like, right now, we’re in the Dark Ages of gaming” based on all the news stories talking about layoffs and studio closures.

4:15 PM: Schappert is walking us through the history of video games, starting with the Atari in 1977, NES in 1985 (“Wth the NES, gaming became more mainstream and more accessible.”), the Game Boy in 1989 (special attention is paid to Tetris for being simple and accessible), the SNES  and Sega Gensis in 1991 (these consoles are noted for “bringing multiplayer to life” and “bringing gaming to a new social level”), the PlayStation in 1995, the PlayStation 2 in 2000, the Xbox in 2001 (which innovated the industry with Xbox Live, bringing console gaming online), the Xbox 360 in 2005 and the PlayStation 3 and Wii in 2006.

“Gaming has become more social and more accessible with each transition.”

4:10 PM: Schappert is explaining how play is a part of our lives from early childhood on. This inclues playing games in the sandbox, building Lego pieces, skateboarding, playing Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, sporting events (“team sports are more fun than individual sports”) and college games like Beer Pong.

“Play is accessible. It brings us together.”

4:06 PM: John Schappert just walked onto the stage. He’s talking about his history working in the video game industry at Microsoft and EA.

We’re at the 2012 Game Developers Conference — at the Moscone Center in San Francisco — waiting for Zynga COO John Schappert to begin his track keynote speech, “Why ‘Free and Cross-Platform Is The Future of Gaming.” This is a new format for GDC, which has previously only had one keynote for the entire conference. This year, six different Track Keynotes are being offered, “for each discipline on which the main conference tracks focus.”