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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE
Conference calling Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, retailers, leading developers and pioneers of digital distribution unite at the inaugral London Games Conference. Over the next seven pages MCV provides a detailed guide to the event, including a profile of the speakers, the latest market data and an examination of SCEEâ€™s active digital strategy...
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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE: GUIDE LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE
THE FULL SCHEDULE 4:30pm Registration 5:05pm Opening Address
Ed Vaizey, Shadow Minister for Culture The man who may well be the games industry’s next voice in government talks directly to the London Games Conference for the event’s opening speech. 5:10pm The Future of Digital Distribution
Nick Parker, Parker Consulting Where are we headed next? One of the games market’s most respected analysts outlines the current digital distribution landscape and offers up exclusive pointers to the future of the sector. 5:35pm Daddy, What’s a Disc? A panel discussion on the death of physical media and the business models that will soon replace them. Host: Phil Harrison, Former president of Sony Worldwide Studios Panellists: Kristian Segerstrale, CEO and cofounder, Playfish; Mark Gerhard, CEO, Jagex; Thomas Bidaux, CEO, ICO Partners 6:10pm Tea and Coffee 6:30pm The New Food Chain Video games will still be made, sold and distributed. But not like they have been. This panel discussion will look at the new lines of demarcation between development, retail, publishing and distribution. Host: Andy Payne, ELSPA Panellists: Charles Cecil, CEO, Revolution Software; Nick Pili, Network Director, SEGA; Gian Luzio, Product Director, The Hut; Rich Keen, Marketing Director, Direct2Drive 7:00pm Charting the Progress of PC Downloads
Dorian Bloch, GfK-ChartTrack The man behind the UK games sector’s invaluable sales charts (and holder of vast amounts of market data) talks on how digital distribution is the future of the PC games market – and makes a forceful case for a industry download chart. 7:20pm Outside the Box Key figures from the market’s three established format holders discuss their roles in the brave new digital future. Host: Tony Mott, Edge Panellists: Pete Edward, Director, PlayStation Home, SCE; Neil Thompson, Senior Regional Director, UK & Ireland, Microsoft; TBA, Nintendo 8:00pm Dinner and Networking
HOW TO GET THERE The London Games Conference takes place at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly. Closest tube stop is Piccadilly.
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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE: GUIDE
Capital ideas The London Games Conference invites the games industry to the UK’s biggest city to discuss the hottest issue facing the games industry: digital distribution. Here we offer a preview of the show…
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WHO WILL BE THERE? Key firms from across the industry are backing the London Games Conference as sponsors. They are… Platinum sponsors
in association with
Delegates also hail from across the sector. They include: 1C Publishing, 505 Games, AN.X, Antigrav Media, Arete Research, Arvato Digital Services, Aurel BGC, Barrington Harvey, Beacon Multimedia S.A, Beggars Group, Black Rock Studios, Blitz Games Studios, BSKYB, Cavendish Corporate Finance, CD-Media S.A, CD Team, Character Communications, Classic Media, David Reeves Consulting, Direct2Drive, Disney Interactive Studios, Distinctive Developments, Doublesix, e4e/AQ, Eiconic Games, Eidos Interactive, ELSPA, Electronic Arts, Entertainment Retailers Association, Exient Ltd, Focus Multimedia, Future Publishing, GAME, GDI Game Domain International, Gem, GfK-ChartTrack, Glu Mobile, GOG.com, ICO Partners, iGAME Family, Incomm Europe, Invest Quebec, ISIS EP LLP, Jagex, Koch Media, Konami Digital Entertainment, Kuju Entertainment, Lick Creative, Live Social, Maclay Murray & Spens LLP, Marriott Harrison, Maverick Media, Microsoft, NC Soft, Nexway, Nick Parker Consulting, Nintendo, NLGD Foundation, Nordic Games Publishing, OGPlanet, OK Media, Olswang Solicitors, OPM Response, Orange, Osborne Clark, OUTSO, Pan Vision, Play.com, Playfish, PlayReplay, PLAYSTOS, Pluto Games, Dubai, Quebec Government Office, Relentless Software, Revolution Software, SCE, Sega, Sitel, Soccer Matrix, Sony DADC, TC Associates, Testronic Labs, The Delta Group, The Hut, THQ UK, Veritas Research, Virtual Air Guitar Company Oy, Warner Bros, Winning Moves UK, Xplace, Zattikka, Zoonami
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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE: MARKET ANALYSIS
Digital Data EVERYONE KNOWS that digital distribution is an important part of the games industry food chain. But just how important is it to consumers? New data from the National Gamers Survey 2009 proves the power of downloaded games, mobile games and games accessed via game portals. The survey, conducted by TNS, quizzed gamers from the US and Europe and investigated a raft of gaming habits including downloading of games. According to the results, 25 per cent of all console users in the UK have downloaded and paid for complete games or extra levels via their console.
cent respectively; 25 per cent for Nintendo Wii. When buying complete new games, seven per cent of all console players states they usually do so directly via the console. 14 per cent of PC gamers pay and download games directly. As can be expected, percentages are even higher in the younger age groups. (see ‘Download Habits’, below). PORTALS AND MOBILE
19 per cent of the UK population plays games on their mobile phone. 44 per cent actually downloads new games and pays directly via their handset. The enormous reach of casual game portals – used by 32 per cent of the total UK
Online distribution is not only a factor in purchasing full titles. 25 per cent of gamers say the availability of a demo is crucial to buying decisions.
Seven per cent state that, when acquiring new games, they usually buy the game directly via their console. That number doubles to 14 per cent when it comes to PC games. It’s clear that gamers who play on their home computers and laptops are accustomed to buying and downloading directly online. In the US, that jumps even higher – figures from American respondents to the same questions shows 16 per cent of gamers have downloaded games for their console and and 23 per cent have downloaded PC content. Read on for more data from the survey: CONSOLE AND PC GAMES
55 per cent of the UK population plays games on consoles and 35 per cent state they play PC games. 27 per cent of UK console players state they download levels or complete games via their console, almost all have experienced paying for this. For Xbox 360 and PS3 the figures go up dramatically: 51 per cent and 55 per
population – is due to the fact most games are free, but 20 per cent of UK game portal players state they spend money on the portal. In the US this is even higher, at 33 per cent. Paid subscriptions are the most popular in both countries but already six per cent of all UK and US game portal players frequently buy premium games online.
Want to know more about the download habits of console and PC gamers? Read on for exclusive data…
VIDEO CONTENT AND DEMOS
55 per cent of the UK’s population play video games, according to the National Gamers Survey – 27 per cent say they actively pay for downloadable content
Online distribution is not only a factor in purchasing games. Almost 25 per cent of UK console game players state that the availability of a downloadable trial version or demo is a crucial factor in their buying decision. This is close to the 30 per cent for PC gamers that traditionally have online access. 45 per cent of PS3 users downloads or accesses video content via their console. This is 41 per cent for Xbox 360 and a mere 22 per cent for Nintendo Wii. nationalgamerssurvey.co.uk
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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE: SPEAKER PROFILES
The London Games Conference boasts the cream of the games industry as key speakers. Here’s a rundown of those on board…
Ed Vaizey Shadow Minister for Culture
Phil Harrison Former president of SCE Worldwide Studios
Nick Parker Founder and Director, Parker Consulting
Stuart Dinsey Managing Director, Intent Media
Kristian Segerstrale CEO and co-founder, Playfish
Ed Vaizey was elected as the MP for Wantage and Didcot in May 2005. Since November 2006, he has been the Conservative Party’s Shadow Minister for Culture. He is already well known within the games industry for having strong views on its cultural and commercial significance. He tells MCV: “I’m delighted to be speaking to the London Games Conference. The games sector is one of the most successful creative industries in the UK, but it has been forgotten by Government. “While Canada and France aggressively compete to attract talent, all our politicians can talk about is video games violence. “Yet games should be a dream for a politician – it recruits people qualified in difficult subjects, like maths and computer science; it’s regional; and it’s successful and worldbeating. Government backing should be a nobrainer.”
In 1992, Phil Harrison became the the first employee of Sony’s game business in Europe. Over the next 16 years he held senior management positions in Europe and the US and played a key role in the launch of PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 as well as the PSP. In 2000, after a four year spell as vice president at Sony Computer Entertainment America, he returned to Europe as executive vice president of SCEE’s development resource. In this position, he oversaw the introduction of game-changing franchises such as EyeToy and SingStar – now deservedly looked back on as the time casual console gaming was born. In 2005 he became president of SCE Worldwide Studios. He left Sony in 2008 a modern development legend – but soon reemerged as president of a reinvigorated, onlinefocused Atari alongside David Gardner. Although he resigned from day-to-day management of the publisher a year later he continues to serve as a board member of the public company. He currently divides his time between looking after his young family and advising various entertainment, media and technology companies.
After a spell as head of business analysis for Nintendo, Nick Parker joined Sony Computer Entertainment Europe as the division’s ‘numbers man’ (otherwise known as VP, strategic planning) and was instrumental in the launches of the PlayStation and PS2. He then set up Atari’s online casual gaming site, gamenation.com, before founding Parker Consulting. The company is now recognised as the European games industry’s foremost strategic business consultancy specialising in research and forecasting.
A business journalist and media owner for 23 years, Stuart Dinsey entered the video games industry via Computer Trade Weekly (CTW) in April 1986, becoming editor in 1988 and holding the role for a further ten years. Dinsey founded entertainment and leisure specialist Intent Media in 1998. His first launch was the market-leading publication and B2B website, MCV. Intent Media has developed into one of the UK’s leading business media specialists. Via a mixture of organic launches and acquisition, Dinsey has developed Intent’s print, online and events portfolio across a variety of sectors.
Playfish is one of the largest and fastest growing social games companies in the world – and, if reports are to be believed, one of the most watched by industry giants hungry for an acquisition. As an experienced games entrepreneur, company founder Kristian Segerstrale brings strategic vision and expertise in leadership of creative teams and corporate growth to the company. Prior to founding Playfish in late 2007, Kristian was a cofounder and later managing director of Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) for Glu Mobile, a leading global publisher of mobile games. During his tenure there he forged key licensor relationship across Europe with leading companies such as Konami, Celador and Codemasters among others.
Mark Gerhard CEO, Jagex Mark Gerhard joined Jagex in February 2008 from GTECH where he served as the principle security architect for the National Lottery. He has over 14 years’ experience in the technology sector.
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LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE: SPEAKER PROFILES
Thomas Bidaux CEO, ICO Partners
Andy Payne Chairman, ELSPA
Charles Cecil Managing Director, Revolution Software
Rich Keen Marketing Director, Direct2Drive
Nick Pili Network Director, Sega
Thomas Bidaux started his games career more than ten years ago at France Telecom, within the GOA team, which went on to produce the most successful MMORPG on the market at the time, Dark Age of Camelot. In 2004, he left to set up the European subsidiary of the online game giant NCsoft in the UK. As the director of development for the company, he managed the team responsible for bringing several major MMOs to the European market, including Guild Wars and City of Heroes. In April 2008, he founded consulting agency ICO Partners, which guides indie studios seeking to enter the online games market.
The Chairman of ELSPA since 2005, Andy Payne has been working in the games industry since 1986. He founded the ELSPA Digital Distribution Group and also serves on the BAFTA games committee and is chairman of GamesAid. He is also managing director of the Mastertronic Group, which has labels Just Flight and Just Trains, Blast, Sold Out, PC Gamer Presents. He recently founded digital distribution specialist Get Games with Eurogamer. In addition, he founded The Producers in 1988, which is a turnkey fulfillment and digital distribution company that is part of the Mastertronic group.
Revolution is Europe’s leading adventure game developer and Charles Cecil himself has been a key figure in the games industry for over 25 years. Its Broken Sword series, which sells an average of a million units per iteration, is the most successful adventure franchise to have appeared on any games console. In 2006 Charles was awarded the status of ‘industry legend’ by Develop, Europe’s leading development magazine. In 2009 he created Revolution Pocket, a division dedicated to digital distribution and self-publishing.
Working out of Direct2Drive’s London office, Rich Keen has been instrumental in growing the business over the last 12 months, developing it into one of the UK’s leading digital distribution retailers. Prior to Direct2Drive, he was at Dennis Publishing, following eight years in the music business, where he held executive roles in both marketing and talent management.
Nick Pili has worked in the video games industry for ten years, managing all aspects of online services. He launched his first digital download title back in February 2002, Codemasters’ Operation Flashpoint: Red Hammer. Since then he has launched a raft of digital download content for franchises that include Colin McRae Rally, TOCA Race Driver and Lord of the Rings. For the last three years Pili has worked as network director for Sega, managing US and European PC digital download strategy, covering franchises such as Total War, Football Manager and Olympic Video Games.
Gian Luzio Product Director, The Hut
Dorian Bloch Business Group Director, GfK Chart-Track
Tony Mott Editor-In-Chief, Edge
Pete Edward Director, PlayStation Home
Neil Thompson Head of Xbox UK and Ireland
Gian Luzio has been involved in the games industry for over 15 years, working for publishers and retailers. He established Play.com as the largest UK games e-tailer before taking up his current position as product director at The Hut Group. The Hut Group provides e-commerce solutions for a number of the largest UK retailers and in September won The Sunday Times Tech Track. Luzio has been working with leading UK download providers and content owners to create a full download solution for consumers.
Dorian Bloch was a founding partner of ChartTrack in 1996 – the wellrespected UK independent specialist entertainment research firm that recently became part of the GfK Group. Recently he helped set up an exhaustive database of game developers (every game sold in the UK in the past decade) on which The Develop 100 is based. He has been instrumental in the formation of a new panel tracking mobile phone game downloads. Currently he is exploring the world of PC game digital downloads.
Since starting out in the video game industry in 1987, Tony Mott has worked as as a pixel artist, producer, marketer and journalist. He now works at Future as editor-in-chief of Edge magazine.
Pete Edward joined Sony Computer Entertainment in 2000 as a producer and boasts a discography that includes The Getaway: Black Monday and SCEE’s first ever online multiplayer game, Hardware: Online Arena. He is responsible for the development, support and operational running of the PlayStation Home service.
Neil Thompson has overall responsibility for Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division in the UK and Ireland – including the sales and marketing of all of Microsoft’s products sold through retail. He has also overseen the impressive growth in Microsoft’s online gaming service, Xbox Live, throughout the territories. Thompson previously held the same role for Central & Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa).
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MCV INTERVIEW SIMON RUTTER, SVP SALES AND MARKETING, SCEE
Hard ‘Work PlayStation Network has made Sony the format-holder most open to digital distribution. So Michael French spoke to Sony’s Simon Rutter to find out more about the company’s online services plus PS3 Home and the PSPgo… What would you say is the single to ignore them. However consumer biggest issue surrounding digital expectations for content such are also distribution that the games industry demanding – high definition, collectors’ has to address? editions with extra content, scale-able Digital distribution has a number of experiences and more, so this also hills to climb, ranging from technical to affects how the contents are delivered. behavioural and legal. All are significant There will be a need for packaged so I’m not sure whether one is bigger goods for some time to come. than another. Forecasting the future is It’s clear that the traditional and always difficult; in the digital area this digital will co-exist for the foreseeable is even more pronounced as user future and our challenge is making sure behaviour, content and business models that consumers are fully engaged in are all emergent. There’s little historic whatever way they wish to receive their data to help planning or forecasting. content. It will mean that all the PlayStation’s approach is to stakeholders – format holders, publishers continually track our user and publisher and retailers – will have to review the communities in order to anticipate way we interact and service them. current and future needs and try to satisfy them It’s clear there is an appetite rapidly. To some degree for digital distribution as this is trial and error, but some consumers are just there are few ‘rules’ in more comfortable with it. this business and failures are sometimes as Simon Rutter important as successes. Sony has tried simultaneous From Sony’s point of view, how digital/physical releases. How do much of the market is digital? Can you see that developing in future? you share any projections? The most important thing to us is that In lieu of any other data points, our we provide our consumers with as analysis of the market is based purely on much choice as we can. Therefore, if the activity on the PlayStation Network. someone wants to buy a game digitally, Although I can’t share numbers with then we want to give them that option. you, it’s very obvious that growth is However, broadband penetration and exponential. It would also seem growth services vary considerably across the is largely incremental to the traditional PAL territories, so as long as there is a business – as much of the digital demand for traditional disc-based content and user behaviour augments gaming, we will continue to deliver our rather than replaces existing activity. content that way too. We have already shown with games such as GT5: Is Sony still adamant that digital Prologue that we are committed to downloads will be a bigger than this. And with the launch of PSPgo, we retail within the next ten years? have shown that simultaneous releases Whether it will be bigger or not is very on disc and via download are a reality. hard to predict. It is clear that there is appetite for digital distribution as some How does marketing change when consumers are far more comfortable it comes to digital releases? with this arrangement. Since we are all It depends on the type of download. in the business of satisfying consumer The biggest change is in the types of needs and desires, it would be foolish download that augment an existing
title. On the PlayStation Network they are called ‘add-ons’ – extra levels and so on. What we now have is an ongoing relationship with our consumers, and buying the game is only the beginning of that relationship. This has major implications on the longevity of the marketing campaign. To a degree, the marketing of a title now only starts with the game release as opposed to this being the mid-point of the marketing plan. Add-on content provides a requirement for sustained marketing activity for as long as content is released. Although this places pressure on the marketing process, it has great advantages in keeping the title alive and on shelf for a longer period of time as consumer interest in it is prolonged. We have not observed any particular difference in audience profile – audiences change primarily according to the IP and this is the same whether a piece of content is bought digitally or not. Basic marketing best practice remains the same and online channels of communication are important for many reasons, not just to promote digital content. The online channel allows us to talk directly to our audiences, and we take advantage of this opportunity as much as possible. A great example of this would be for SingStar, where we have created a huge networked community via PS3, Facebook, SingStargame.com and Home in addition to a traditional above the line campaign. Each audience is different and requires a unique approach.
How has Home helped support Sony's digital strategy? Home has been a great learning experience for us. The intention for Home was to create a 3D, online world, where gamers could get together and share their experiences with each other
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MCV INTERVIEW SIMON RUTTER, SVP SALES AND MARKETING, SCEE and add value to their PlayStation life. What we have seen is that those within Home are very comfortable with this type of communication and interaction, and are hungry for content that enhances their experience, be it free or premium content. Other companies have seen the benefit of using Home as a channel to communicate with a generation of gamers who are clearly very comfortable in this digital world. Whilst the current Home audience may be made up of the same people who are already downloading content from PlayStation Store, what we hope will happen is that as Home continues to grow and offers more and more varied content, it will attract a wider range of people who will become accustomed to the digital culture.
Are episodic games a viable model or will it remain an indulgence for just one or two developers? We dipped our toes into this area with Siren: Blood Curse last year which was released on the PSN in three packs with
There are few ‘rules’ when it comes to digital distribution – and failures are sometimes as important as successes.
What makes a different to a digital release different to a physical one? There are the obvious logistical differences of manufacture and physical distribution, together with localised price considerations. One key difference is the ability for specialist retailers to educate their customers – the digital environment is essentially ‘self service’ and requires some degree of consumer knowledge to make an informed judgement. But retailer interaction is a very important part of marketing which requires particular attention and support from the publisher.
RUTTER: SCEE’s marketing chief says digital distribution means all of the industry’s stakeholders – format holders, publishers and retailers – ‘will have to review the way we interact and service consumers’
data allows performance benchmarking which will ultimately lead to better products. Win-win for all! There will be numerous barriers that need to be overcome, such as independent monitoring – and we still have issues obtaining all the information for disc-based sales throughout the PAL territories. That said, however, I think that before we get caught up in those issues, the digital marketplace needs a little more time to develop.
Does the industry need a more structured approach to how it shares and talks about digital sales? I am sure something like this will be necessary eventually. At the moment investment decisions for development, marketing and other resources are being made without true visibility of the total market. This is OK whilst the digital channel is still embryonic, but as growth continues a more structured approach is necessary. It’s equally important to contextualise digital and traditional together, as ultimately it is one business, just different delivery mechanisms. Of course from a consumer perspective, having visibility to market
four episodes per pack, and was later released on BD. It’s certainly an area that has potential. The idea that people could be anticipating and discussing the next episode of their game in the same way they look forward to Lost or Heroes is really exciting and I think we’ll see more and more developers experimenting with this over the next few years. What opportunities do PSP Minis afford the industry? Minis, like most things we are doing, are about consumer choice. PSP users want the opportunity to choose whether they immerse themselves in a triple-A game such as GT or Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines, or whether they simply dip in and out of a more snackable game. Minis are the solution to the second option; they also bring more developers into the PSP world than ever before, making the platform more accessible than ever. We hope that Minis will help expand the portable gaming market and bring a new creativity to the platform. Once again this is the type of content that is not economic to offer in the traditional way. Early indications are that the introduction of Minis has not cannibalised sales of existing content – traditional or digital – but added to it.
London Games Conference Guide 2009