Continuing our build-up to this year's Game Connection@GDC 2011 event, here we talk to one of the most influential people in the business - Bob Loya, director of Developer Relations and Acquisitions at Activision Blizzard.
He explains why Game Connection has become fertile soil for publishers, developers and middleware companies to do business, and why multiple platforms and distribution mechanisms is such a challenge - as well as an opportunity.
For me, and I think for most publishers, Game Connection's a great event because everybody's in one spot. GDC in the past - a long time ago - you'd be running all over the place to different meetings; and now we have two or three days just solely dedicated to developer and publisher meetings (or developer and service provider meetings).
It's just a really great, efficient way to meet with developers that you already know - plus a lot that you don't - and spend more quality time with them. The first time you go it's a bit like speed dating for developers and publishers. But once you get used to the rhythm, it's actually a quality event, and you can get a lot done in terms of meeting people, evaluating developers and products in a short period of time.
Absolutely - when I first started Lyon was the Game Connection event, and I found it incredibly useful to meet with all of the European developers there. But the event at GDC has overtaken that now - Lyon is still useful, but GDC is totally international, with Japan, Korea, China, Europe, North America... it's a one-stop-shop for everybody you'd want to meet. It's great to have it there.
It all depends on your portfolio strategy as a publisher, and again, that's one of the great things about Game Connection. You can go on the site, fill out your profile and basically limit your meetings to specific genres or types of developers, or different SKUs.
I think that's been one thing that's been great in the evolution of Game Connection - you get to look over developers and prospective meetings prior to accepting them, so it becomes a lot more efficient.
In terms of our strategy we've probably been focused more, in terms of developer relations, on work-for-hire deals. So we've been looking for developers that have certain pedigrees, certain kinds of experience on specific SKUs that we've identified as being important to us and our portfolio. That's then what we've focused on at Game Connection.
Recently though we've started to branch out a little bit more and we're starting to look in the social and casual space, like most publishers are. We've started to educate ourselves about the development community there, and Game Connection's been really helpful in doing that.