I have a very special relationship with the Casual Connect conferences. Back in early 2006 I was totally within the core console games “reality bubble” and I thought I should learn something about the emerging casual games market, so I took the plunge and headed to the lovely Amsterdam for the Casual Connect conference.
It totally bursted that “reality bubble”. There was a completely amazing new sub-industry being born, where new game genres were created and new business models explored. Not only did I discover the downloadable casual games segment, but also the totally rule-bending Korean virtual goods driven online games segment.
In particular one session stood out: the “Hype or Real Deal” panel. Four CEOs and founders of diverse companies on the stage holding two large sign cards: Hype and Real Deal. The moderator would ask a question and each one of the panelists had to reveal their opinions simultaneously. It was a great format that stimulated a lot of heated discussion as the panelists had to defend their positions.
Two questions that the moderator asked struck me: “Will virtual goods ever work in the western world?” and “Will casual games go online and become more like MMOs?”. Just about everybody in the panel called these “Hype” while Erik Bethke, the founder of GoPets, vigorously defended them being the “Real Deal”. Erik lost out then as the whole conference really didn’t think much of these trends. But I did. The opportunities were mind-boggling. I scampered immediately after the panel ended and waylaid Erik as fast as I could for a further chat.
I have to really hand it to Erik for single handedly blowing away my ignorance (BTW, you should read his excellent blog which he updates all too infrequently =)).
As we all know, those trends become the “Real deal” already in year 2008 and they are going a lot stronger this year.
Speaking about how to start a new game business
It is an honor to be invited to speak at Casual Connect and I’m delighted I can be giving back a little as I received so much at the 2006 event. I will be speaking about how to start a new game business – something that I have gotten a bit of hands on experience during the past 6 months =). The session is on Thursday 12th of February at 11:00.
If you are at the event, I’d love to meet!