Now in its sixth year, Paris Games Week has been gathering steam in every incarnation. Last year, the combined trade shows pulled in a crowd of over 270,000 visitors, making it second only to Gamescom in terms of worldwide attendance figures. Yet it remains firmly under the radar for much of the global audience, particularly consumers. This year, Sony's decision to forego the Cologne event in favour of Paris means that the show has suddenly been put at the forefront of the consumer agenda, with a potential release date and pricing for the PlayStation VR hardware dominating pre-show chatter.
Although the shift in Sony's scheduling was down to a one-off proximity between Gamescom and E3, the platform holder's presence may well have a lasting effect on the profile of the show. GamesIndustry.biz will be attending this year's event as part of an official media partnership with Game Connection, the business to business core of the show floor. We spoke to MD Pierre Mirlit to find out what to expect.
Paris Games Week seems to be growing considerably. Where do you see yourselves fitting into the week's events as a whole?
There is a public side of the event and there is a professional side. We take care of the latter! Game Connection is the place where the game industry meets. We focus on business meetings.
This is the second year we are partnered with Paris Games Week. Last year's partnership was a great success so, of course, we wanted to renew it.
We compliment each other considerably, given PGW's consumer focus and our business focus - we work well together to provide the complete experience to the gaming industry as a whole.
"For industry professionals the two events together give them access to not only fellow professionals but also to hundreds of thousands of gamers and fans"
For industry professionals the two events together give them access to not only fellow professionals but also to hundreds of thousands of gamers and fans. Companies can have stands at both events - combining both community management alongside the business to business deal making that Game Connection is known for.
With a firm focus on business, how have you seen the nature of your exhibitors and attendees changing over the last few years in terms of industry sector?
The industry is reinventing itself constantly. The impact of the new business model is tremendous on the structure of the industry itself.
We've seen a lot of newcomers in the industry from all sectors, especially in the mobile sector.
The significant concentration in the console segment is hiding the fact that other segments are extremely fragmented and, on top of that, the global growth of the market has allowed for the rise of strong local publishers and distributors all over the world.
Thanks to all these factors we've seen our event growing in terms of exhibitors as more and more smaller companies from across the world join the industry each year and need to form partnerships in this fractured market to succeed. And this is where Game Connection shines - organising around 11,000 business meetings over three days between 3000-odd senior decision makers looking for new partners.
What are the fastest growth areas?
Game Data Analysis, Hosting, Advertising and Acquisitions are amongst the fastest growing areas in terms of exhibitors.
We have also seen a significant rise on the buyer side of payment managers, acquisition managers, community managers and local publishers coming from all over the world.
Sony's decision to bring their major European press event to Paris rather than Cologne this year is a major coup. Will the presence of more consumer press bring you any benefits?
We're extremely excited by the presence of even more consumer press at the event. Our development awards nominees in particular will benefit from the presence of more consumer press as they will be showing off their games to both Game Connection and Paris Games Week attendees.
The evolution of the industry and the surge of self-distribution for a lot of developers/publishers reinforces the need for more communication between game providers as a whole and the press (a group that is becoming broader and broader with the fast growing numbers of influencers/bloggers)
Industry professionals are also readers of consumer press, so there's certainly interest for the readerships of consumer press to learn about the goings on at Game Connection.
And let's not forget that it's the meetings and decisions made there that decide the future games that will be played over the coming years.
"The evolution of the industry and the surge of self-distribution for a lot of developers/publishers reinforces the need for more communication between game providers as a whole and the press"
There's a healthy mix of international speakers and attendees. Do you see the event as more of an opportunity for other markets looking to reach Europe or European vendors looking to expand abroad?
It's a mixture of both. We attract attendees and speakers from over 50 countries worldwide to the event all looking for new partners. European exhibitors account for 47 per cent of the exhibitors and 35 per cent of the attendees. The market is global, so we have to be too and serve the needs of our customers looking for partners in Europe, US, Asia and MENA.
What about local talent? There's obviously the giant presence of Ubisoft, but what other French companies should we be looking out for?
The French industry is alive and kicking! Ubisoft is of course a very strong local player, with a global presence. And global players such as Sony, Microsoft, EA and so on also have a very strong local presence. There are several organizations promoting French talent such as Capital Games, our main partner for the event, as well as Imaginove and Game In.
On top of that Game Connection is an opportunity to meet a lot of indie developers and game providers from all over the world. As a matter of fact, more that 70 per cent of the exhibitors and the attendees are not French.
You're well positioned on the calendar in terms of the release of consumer VR technology. Can we expect that technology to form a significant part of the show?
We will probably hear a lot about this topic. Everybody is excited and experimenting but very few are actually selling. We have all seen great prototypes and cannot wait to see major releases. A lot of deals are going to be discussed at Game Connection as we've seen major traction on the subject. 2016 will definitely be Year 1 for the VR in the game industry.
GamesIndustry.biz will be attending Game Connection Paris as a guest of the organiser. As a part of that arrangement, attendance, travel and accommodation costs for attendance have been covered by the show organisers.