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Streamline's Alexander Fernandez

The Streamline Studios boss gives his frank assessment of the move to GDC Europe, plus the industry's direction this year

One of the familiar faces at Leipzig's GCDC in the past few years has been Streamline Studios CEO Alexander Fernandez - but this year he's serving on the advisory board for GDC Europe.

Here he explains why he's supporting the Cologne event, what he hopes to see from it and offers his assessment of the direction of the videogames business in 2009. You're on the advisory board for GDC Europe this year - and for GCDC last year - so what made you decide to join Frank Sliwka for the new event?
Alexander Fernandez

I think you're asking a question that a lot of people are asking - why did all this happen? I think that's really what you're trying to get at. Unfortunately in this industry it comes down to commercial decisions, and those commercial decision are made by people in greater positions that you're in.

Obviously for GCDC in the past couple of years, I served on the advisory board and was a part of it, and along with Frank and the advisory board worked very hard to build a great conference.

What we'd done is created a conference that had become quite successful throughout Europe and the rest of the world, and it got the attention of the industry. What that ended up doing was creating a situation in which our success unfortunately became our undoing because it got too big, from the standpoint that not only did you have what was going on at Game Convention, but with the conference as well Leipzig just couldn't hold everything at the same time.

I think it's really important to note this - the decision to go from Leipzig to Cologne was a very difficult one, and one which was in the end a commercial decision that was out of our hands. It found us going in this direction.

But you can't have a conference without the consumer event. You couldn't just do it by itself in Leipzig, and have the developers and business conference half-way across the country from the consumer event. That's the moment in time - commercial reality.

It was hard - we spent a good year... and I've been going to that conference since 2003, I've spent a good part of my career in this conference putting it together. A lot of us are very passionate about the city, so it's a very sad day.

But at the same time, things change. It's like graduating from school and going to college - we kind of graduated all together. The cool part about it is that being able to do this, working with Frank, and ultimately being able to be part of the larger play here - GDC - really helps the industry in Europe position itself globally.

Because, whether you like it or not, GDC is a large brand that's known worldwide. Whether you agree with its politics or not, being able to be on the advisory board is to work with people who have put their heart and soul into it in the appropriate manner, and I think really puts us in a position where we can really have influence.

Plus it ensures that from Europe's perspective - and also Asia's - that there's a group that's really interested in advancing developers' causes. And if you look at the conference this year, and you look at who's speaking, it's just a reflection of the same spirit as before. And I think what's better is that the brand is able to attract even more quality people, which is something that, as a conference person, you're always wanting to do.

Of course, there are still going to be people who are mad - there are still those who are angry about the Leipzig thing, people that are pissed off that it's GDC. But what I say to those people is that this is going to be good - I'm sure it's going to be good. And if it's not good, then we'll raise Hell. Let your voice be heard. Whatever people's point of view, it's moved on now - looking ahead to Cologne, what are you most looking forward to?
Alexander Fernandez

To be honest with you I think what I'm looking forward to the most is just a pass at the overall situation in the industry right now. I'm looking forward to seeing the industry breathe again, specifically with publishers as the realisation that they have big holes in their 2010-11 release schedules hits so hard that they're like "Crap, where are we going to get product?"

So then the flood gates open for developers who are out there staying lean and trim, trying to survive, have an opportunity to rush in. One thing I've found extremely positive is that everyone I've spoken to has already pre-booked 10-15 meetings, which by industry standards, for people to have booked meetings more than a month in advance... that's a like a miracle.

And the fact that so many have done it just tells me that this show is important - and for multiple reasons. Not just the European context, but also the global context in that developers coming to this show are looking to place product. For some it's their Hail Marys, for others they want to get a good idea off the ground - but for publishers it's "Sh*t, we need to buy something".

This is the one thing that I think it great, and I'm looking forward to seeing that. I can't wait to see a few of the transactions.

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