Phil Harrison: The five trends developers should be watching

This morning at the Games Invest event in London, former Sony Computer Entertainment Europe executive vice president Phil Harrison predicted the major trends that would dominate gaming over the coming years.

Harrison, who is now general partner at London Venture Partners, spoke to members of the industry about what venture capitalist investors are looking for, how to pitch to them, and about the importance of using metrics and looking to future trends.

"Try and extrapolate forward, think about what's happening in the market in the future, think about the way the market is changing, and what are the next big disruptive trends."

Harrison identified five distinct areas:

Flash 11/Molehill "I think Flash 11, Molehill technology is impacting strongly 3D in the browser. The browser is becoming a console quality place to enjoy content, and there are some very powerful companies that are helping to enable that. Not just Adobe, but companies like Unity, Microsoft is thinking about it, Google is thinking about it. So think about that rising tide and how you could benefit from it. That's a very short term opportunity."

HTML 5 "Longer term we see HTML 5 as being a very important set of technologies for the simple reason that it gets you around the App Stores and it gets you around an application that has to be downloaded and that you will get functionality in the browser which is close enough to an App, that will allow you to deliver some very innovative experiences to your customers. Now you won't be able to do Call Of Duty in HTML 5 yet, but it will get there eventually, so I think it's worth thinking about the long term impact of that."

We think social, on mobile, with location is a big macro that is going to be a game changer. No pun intended.

Location based mobile games "Another big macro trend is social, on mobile, with the addition of location. We've invested in a company called Grey Area for that reason, because we think this is a big macro that is going to be a game changer, no pun intended. Just recently a company called Red Robot Labs has come out of hiding with their Life Is Crime product, which is another example of it. And this I think is a big rising tide and its going to be an exciting consumer space as well."

Tablets "The irresistible rise of iPad/Android touch tablets, I think this is going to become an enormous, multi hundreds of millions of units platform for games. Just look at the rate at which Apple is installing iPads into the world. Go into an Apple Store and just watch who comes to the store to play on the iPad. It's kids. And over time the prices will come down and will propagate to everybody."

"I'm not going to make any wild predictions about how its going replace existing consoles but its definitely a console for the future that's a very exciting trend. And don't ignore Windows 8, I think Microsoft is going to come back strongly with Windows 8 in the touch and tablets area. I think that's going to be a stalking horse that could come up and be an interesting one."

Smart TVs and cloud gaming "And then finally, Smart TV and the cloud, hundreds of millions of televisions being sold every year with internet connections in them with, increasingly, processors which are akin to an Atom notebook, notepad type functionality. This is going to disintermediate a lot of consoles from the space, which is not necessarily a good thing but it creates a new channels for consumers to enjoy certain types of games directly on their television."

Next January most high end TV remote controls are going to have Wii-like functionality in them.

"If you watch what happens at CES in January, that's when all the big consumer electronics companies show their big trends, there was a little glimmer of it last year but next January most high end TV remote controls are going to have Wii-like functionality in them. And so that makes a user interface for games straight away."

"So think about that as a big space, and then obviously the cloud as a space for delivering content. I'm on the advisory board for Gaikai, and I'm privileged on information on some of the things that they're doing, and seeing the speed at which consumer electronics companies are adopting cloud technologies into their devices, it's going to make it a massive platform for games and a very efficient platform for games as well."

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Latest comments (6)

John Cook Senior Partner, Bad Management6 years ago
Nice talk by PH yesterday - looks like 2012 CES will be worth going to this year.....
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Jonathan Withey Producer 6 years ago
Interesting summary, and all without new consoles.
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Andy Bastable Lead Programmer, Microsoft / Rare6 years ago
Big question for me is with the march of the smartphone/tablet rising and rising -- why would Apple/Google/Microsoft optimise their mobile/tablet browsers for HTML5 gaming and risk their precious app store dollars? HTML5/WebGL shows awesome promise, but it needs browser support for it to thrive, otherwise it'll just fall by the wayside.
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Kim Pallister Director of Content, Intel6 years ago
@Andy: Because in the scope of the tablet revenues, the revenue to Apple from appstore is tiny, and not worth risking if you might not support something a competitor does.
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Justin Saunders Programmer 6 years ago
Wow, thanks Captain Obvious. Mobile games? Tablets? Where can I buy one?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Justin Saunders on 30th September 2011 5:20pm

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David Spender Lead Programmer 6 years ago
"Next big disruptive trends"

I can see why he makes the big bucks.
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