Videogame makers seek footing on shifting landscape

Videogame makers from around the globe are gathering here to seek paths to fortune and glory on a landscape upset by social networks, smartphones, tablet computers, and the Internet "cloud."

More than 18,000 industry insiders are expected to attend the weeklong Game Developers Conference that kicks off Monday in downtown San Francisco.

The event has grown into the world's largest confab of videogame professionals since it started in 1988 with about two dozen computer game loving software developers meeting in a living room.

Major themes at GDC will include adapting to the booming popularity of "social games" at online communities such as Facebook and casual play on smartphones or tablet computers.

"In past years developers treated social games like second-class citizens to consoles," said Scott Steinberg, lead videogame analyst at TechSavvy Global.

"Now, they are facing the reality that this is where the future might lie."

Revenue from social games is likely to exceed a billion dollars this year, according to industry tracker eMarketer.

Facebook stands to benefit nicely from the trend, since about half of its more than 500 million members play games and the social network takes a 30 percent cut of revenue from game transactions.

Internet game playground Hi5 will introduce at GDC a SocioPay platform designed to ramp-up the amount of money developers pump from their creations.

SocioPay will complement a recently-launched Hi5 SocioPath portal that enables game applications to break free of Facebook while letting players stay connected to friends at the social network.

"Think of these as services that give social games the monetization platform and social network features they get from Facebook, but they don't need Facebook to do it," Hi5 president Alex St. John told AFP.

"Social gaming is going to continue to grow dramatically, and one of the ways is it is going to escape from the confines of Facebook," he added.

SocioPay times offers of virtual goods to when people are likely to accept and shows video ads to penurious players.

Fewer than two percent of social game players pay anything, according to industry statistics.

"The system intelligently separates people who will pay and who won't, then monetizes non-payers with ads," said St. John, whose background includes founding game website Wild Tangent and working on Microsoft's Xbox videogame console.

"Not only does it double your money, players like it better."

Hi5 shares in revenues from games it publishes.

Startup Blue Noodle at GDC will unveil Clickstrip technology that pays players in-game currency for clicking on-screen bars to watch 30-second video ads.

"Brands are really interested right now in the social space," said Blue Noodle chief executive Lesley Mansford. "Social networking social gaming is huge."

Habbo Hotel owned by Finland-based Sulake Corp. boasts being the biggest social game community for teenagers, with 16 million young people using the website monthly.

Habbo sells virtual components for people to create online games. It is free to join and play.

For example, someone will buy a virtual soccer field, goals, and ball, then invite friends to take part in matches for free.

A hot game involves creating faux hospitals where friends represented by animated characters play at being doctors, nurses or patients, according to Habbo executive vice president Teemu Huuhtanen.

A version of Habbo tailored for tablet computers is poised for release later this year when a second-generation iPad and devices running on Google's "Honeycomb" software take hold in the market.

"Social games are going to go to tablets," Huuhtanen said. "I don't think a lot of people understand how fast the world is going toward tablets and mobile."

Topics at GDC will include crafting games to be played on mobile gadgets and in Internet browser windows, as well as titles hosted as services online.

Developers will also explore the promise of 3D games and titles for play using motion-sensing controls for Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) videogame consoles.

Kinect for Xbox 360 and Move for PS3 have been hits since their releases late last year in a sign there is still money to be made with blockbuster console titles.

"The game industry continues to be an area of turbulence because everyone is trying to figure out where the future lies," Steinberg said.

"You continue to see studios close, publishing giants re-invent themselves, and the developer community realize the power it has to sell directly to shoppers."

News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

    £6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: .Net / SQL Developer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links