Showing posts with label Games Convention Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Games Convention Asia. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Games Convention Asia 2009 - Convention @ Suntec

This year's GCA 2009 convention seemed smaller somehow. Perhaps it was due to the economic crisis and that the recently there were a number of other related trade shows / events (e.g. Toys Comics Games Convention, and also COMEX).

The good thing about GCA 2009 was that I get to see many other smaller local studios! I was hoping to catch the developer of Straw Hat Samurai, but I guess he wasn't around the area when I visited. I saw other booths by Tyler and also NexGen Studios. Seems like they are doing well, and that is good news to show the promise and potential of the local budding games studios.

A major attraction of GCA this year is the display of the Into the Pixel art prints. The prints were selected as part of a competition, and these pieces were the winners this year. For 3 years running, the Into The Pixel competition serve as an event to celebrate the artistic elements of the games development, and it is indeed different to see the art pieces as prints rather than on screen graphics. Ok I am a bit more biased towards Guild Wars but that game does have good graphics!

This year there were a number of business and trade related initiatives and a whole area was devoted to be the business centre for deals discussions. Not sure if there will be any announcement of the the total deals value later. I think we need more incentives, and more publicity of the events regionally to attract deal makers to come here.

In the exhibition halls we see the usual consoles, cars racing ...etc. Perhaps we have seen too many of such set ups that it is getting a bit dull. It is fun to see folks tryong out games but we see that too often at the various events.

Yeah we have other type of booths selling games related items too. Quite fun to wear military style dressed up persons walkign around. I wonder how they feel wearing these costumes that should be quite different from the SAF number 4 uniform that we are all familiar with.

The highlight is of course the competition. The One Asia Cup rounds will be completed (for Singapore leg) by this weekend, and then we have finalists from four countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore) competiting. Good Luck to those who are competing!

There was this large booth area hosting Dragonica online game, and I understand there was a x2 experience points event going on as well. Dragonica is fun and yes it is important to have more games event to retain the interest of gamers, especially when there are so many other online games available.

Afternote: Thanks to a guest reader who correctly pointed out that there is the large gaming area by Cherry Credits.

I do like to see more variety of games offered at such conventions and viola, we have the Playware Studios, demonstrating the educational games. These video walls content, including the displayed game items could be controlled via remote controllers by the side of the booth. So I guess these tools will be useful for teachers at schools (i.e. for educational purpose).

Yupz Playware also has other games, e.g. the Magic Lanterns, that we see here.

Overall the Convention is interesting, but I guess the CosPlay events and tournaments will attract more people this weekend rather than gaming booths. :)

See also:
- GCA2009 D.I.C.E Asia Summit @ Suntec

GCA 2009 - D.I.C.E. Asia Summit @ Suntec

It was a wonderful experience attending the first D.I.C.E. (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) Asia Summit where I could have the first hand experience learning and interacting with so many renowned persons from the gaming industry.

The Summit started with the opening remarks (and announcement of Singapore Game Box @ E2Max) from the Acting Minister of MICA, and the official speech could be found at MICA website. There were many speeches, presentations, announcements...etc and I would just highlight those of interest to me.

The discussion by Mr Eundo Chae, General Director of Wizet Studio was interesting simply because it was all about MapleStory! Yeah, that was one of the online games where I spent a large amount of time, and where I met many online friends, a few of whom I still maintain contact till today. So it was very interesting to hear that MapleStory didn't start out as an online game durign the conceptual stage. Mr Eundo Chae shared that it was actually meant to be a graphical chat tool complete with avatar and costumes!

Wizet then realised that it was pretty easy to let the avatars moved around in 2D, and that they had difficulty developing the entire database of avatars and costumes at one shot. Thus Wizet had the brillant idea of developing MapleStory into a 2D side scroll game instead. Of course, the chatting function, the bright casual feel, and avatar customisation remained as core points of the game.

Mr Eundo Chae then shared that MapleStory became successful (currently about 87 million players around the world, wow!) because of the continuous development, the intriduction of relevant game content and events, and the effort to prevent server hacks ...etc. The localisation effort for MapleStory was remarkable, where new towns and related quests were customised according to the country for the specific groups of users. The MapleStory of today is no longer just limited to the game, since there were many other game related products, e.g. stationery, comics, anime and even TCG cards.

Another interesting discussion was by Mr Yasuhide Kobayashi, Senior VP of SCE Worldwide Studios. The discussion was interesting because of the focus on localisation. Localisation has always been a very important part of games introduction into any market. Games is a part of culture, and without understanding the culturally aspects of the target audience, it will be very difficult to penetrate the market successfully.

Mr Kobayashi shared many stories from the Sony studios, and how the Japan and US offices discussed about their games development strategy and designs.

The discussion was lively because of the many examples used, where as part of the audience we were asked about our preferences for the various designs. He ramarked that Japanese market prefered a softer image in terms of games packaging, where the US market prefered a stronger character focus. Examples of Hot Shots Golfs and ICO were used. Of course, the claps (indicator of preference) would be very confusing to Mr Kobayashi, simply because the audience came from various parts of the world. Thus there would be no way he could discern what was this D.I.C.E audience's preferences.

It was also interesting to know that Sony actually spent 1 year in designing the characters for their games. The decision makers had to decide on the looks of the game characters for Rogue Galaxy that took various iterations. Of course, that is important because any die hard fans of a game title will not want the character designs to change drastically at the next release.

The first day of the D.I.C.E. Asia Summit ended with a roundtable discussion. The topics were interasting, but I find the pce slow, simply because translators were needed for the various speakers. The makeup of the panelists reflected the global nature of the game industry, as can be seen in the picture below.

The second day of D.I.C.E Asia Summit attracted a lot more students and developers. I believed it is simply because the topcis of the second day would be closer to the hearts of many individuals. Unfortunately my camera battery died during the second day and I had taken only a few pictures.

The sharing by Lisa Hanson of Niko Partners about the China's Games Industry Outlook was informational. It is simply remarkable how the market size of China has grown. The 60 million online gamers base of China offered huge business opportunities. Of course, I didn't know that consoles were generally banned, and that many online games developers need to partner with Chinese local firms in order to provide services in the market. I guess billion dollars games industry, with predominanatly item based subscriptions will continue to be attractive to the game developers. I also learned new info, that ShangHai is the nexus of the telecom networks, and thus became the ideal location to host games servers.

Not all sessions were serious discussions of informational stuff. I attended the enlightening session by Christopher Natsuume of Boomzap entertainment, that was very very entertaining and yet provided insights into how the casual games market functions. Christopher's use of many examples helped to drive home the points of his presentation. Seriously I didn't know that there were so many different releases of Diner Dash, or that there were so many different versions of 'match three' puzzle or 'Mtstery Files' spot the items games.

These two days of the D.I.C.E Asia Summit were worth spending my annual leave for, and if there are opportunities again next year I am sure I will attend again. Judging from the audiences I am sure many will return again next year. However, I would think that topics offered during the second day will be more attractive than the general announcements or broadbased discussions done during the first day. I guess the organisers will have sufficient feedback to re-adjust their focus of the event, i.e. whether it is a trade show, discussion forum, or just consumer focused event. The pictures of GCA 2009, and the Magma Studios announcement will be shared in the blog separately.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

GCA 2009 Media Conference @ Colosseum, Iluma

It was a pleasant surprise when I received the invitation for the Games Convention Asia 2009 Media Conference. The Games Convention Asia event (GCA) has always been a highlight for the regional gaming industry, not just due to the large variety of different games companies and business deals struck, but also the interesting discussions with the many panelists from the different value chain of games development. One can get a much better perspective of the current development and trends of game development in the region from GCA.

The GCA 2009 Media Conference was held this morning at the newly opened Illuma cybercafe, Colosseum. I met Yirong (Atomic Gaming) and Gayle (Colosseum) who commented that Colosseum with its 220+ gaming PCs and the latest gamign assesories, will be making its pressence felt in the gaming sector. Colosseum had hosted competition events, and the set up of the place with three mega screens will definitely be ideal for tournaments. Those who are interested can visit the place, located at the top floor of Illuma (next to the newly opened club Seven), i.e. you have to take the lifts (not escalators) to the 7th floor.

When I reached the venue, Tannia and Shirley (Hoffman) were introducing the panelists to me. For the Media Conference, they had4 panelists (left to right in the picture below), Jorg Zeissig (LMI), Joseph Olin (AIAS), Aroon Tan (GXA), and Richard Chua (IAH Games). There were also some collaterals for folks to read, including a coming cosplay event (Asia Pacific Cosplay Championship @ GCA 2009) on 20th Sep at Suntec as well.

Jorg and Joseph shared the details of GCA 2009, including the introduction of DICE (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) Summit to Singapore. Personally I always think it is encouraging to have forums / platforms for companies and individuals to share their experiences, and I think DICE Summit Asia will do just that for companies in this region. It is very interesting to hear remarks like 'game creation as fine arts, as culturally revelant materials, and as the next wave of interactive entertainment, relevant to audiences at home and the region' from Joseph. I think that is simply great, and that is precisely what we need to encourage games development locally. Games are artistic entertainment that are of great relevant both culturally and commercially. Arts and / or entertainment can better flourish in an environment that encourages ideas exchange.

So I guess we can expect a lot from the participating companies in the coming GCA. I was looking through the list of 70+ exhibitors (Cherry, EA, Epicsoft, Gaming Era, Gigabyte, Microsoft, Nanyang Poly, Playware, TimeZone...etc) and while the majority are Singapore companies, we do have about 18 companies from China, India, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and UK. I was hoping to see developers for mobile games, and also IPTV interactive games (e.g. Accedo) but I guess the current market is not attractive (yet) for these companies to participate in Singapore events. Hopefully in the years to come we can have these companies, to complete the spectrum of different games development. Well, GCA appeals to the games developers for the English speaking communities in the Asia region, but there are also many pockets of non-English speaking crowd and we do need other developers to come along and add to this eco-system.

Aroon and Richard shared their initiatives that will be launched at this week, including the directory of key players in the gaming industry that spans across the whole value chain. Aroon also shared that more market trends, market statistics, and details will be released to level the playing field such that smaller players could also have a good chance to secure their niches in this market. Actually I am not so sure that smaller games developers are disadvantaged, simply because the market we are talking about is actually world size. If a game is good, it will find its way around to other markets. Some niche successful games developers that come to mind are Amanita Design (with their Samorost 1 & 2, and Machinarium), and even the local LUT! with his Straw Hat Samurai 1 & 2. There are many others, e.g. Pencil Farm, who occupy different niches, and a small niche in the world market can be as big (in revenue) as the local market. Of course, an information directory is always good, and more market intelligence will also be great.

For Richard, he shared the One Asia Cup launched by IAH Games, where games from Malaysian, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, will compete for the US$100,000 prizes. It is encouraging to have such tournaments and competitions that give the much needed boost to the local competitive gaming landscape. It shows that gaming can be a serious affairs, and that helps to dispel the many media association of online games with crimes, social problems and gaming addicts. After the Media Conference, various journalists had their discussions with the panelists, but I left shortly (heh partly to come home and quickly register as Press Accreditation for GCA).

For GCA 2009, I will be looking forward to a healthy debate of gaming related issues. Of particular interest to me will be the keynote speech by Tetsuhiko Yasuda about copyright protection, development support, and games export potential in Asia. Yes, there are many other discussions and do visit the GCA site to get a sense of the different tracks of discussions.

So I guess that is about it for the Media Conference and I am looking forward to GCA 2009 at Suntec (from Thursday to Sunday). Oh, as an interesting side note, it was also shared that Into The Pixel exhibition (the website has pictures of the different pieces) of different art pieces will also be held during the GCA! I was glancing through the small booklet and found many interesting prints (Rabbids, Guild Wars ...etc). Yes, it will be great to appreciate game arts as prints, and truly celebrate the concept of games as the artistic forms of entertainment!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Growing Online / Gaming Content Market in Singapore

Last year in August 2008, there was an article on Business Times about a Frost research estimating Singapore's online content market to see robust growth reaching US$23.82 million in 2008. It seems the figure is estimated to reach US$120million by 2013. Some more details about the Frost research can be found in this article.

I was pretty skeptical about the figures initially. However, these few days there were reports of Singapore developers earning big bucks with their online games. One such group of developers is the Tyler Projects who developed Battle Stations on Facebook. According to this Straits Times article they are cashing in monthly sales of over $50,000. Not bad for a group of relatively new games developers. It does appear that online gaming (whether via gaming clients or social networking platforms) is fueling online content growth.

The growth of gaming locally has attracted the attention of big boys as well. Another Straits Times article (20 Feb 09) noted that Japanese gaming giant Koei has decided to hire 30 to 60 more staff for Singapore office. I think they had pretty good experience developing the 'Romance of the Three Kingdom Online' in Singapore. What is weird is that the Romance of Three Kingdom Online is not available to the Singapore gamer.

Other than the gaming developers, there are also more exhibitions planned for Singapore. Aside from the annual Games Convention Asia, there is also the Games XPO 2009 scheduled for July 2009 (see article). With all these activities, no wonder even the 9 years old kids are dabbling with games development (see article about 9 years old iPhone apps developer).

Seems like the August 2008 article is quite reliable after all. Maybe I should think about quitting my job to be a games developer, lolz.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Free Posters!

Like the cube above? Cute right? There are many other designs available, and this cube is among the freebies that one could get at the Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City. There are plenty of other freebies, and I've collected quite a number of posters. Let me share the pictures of some of these posters.

Cherry Credits gave away quite a number of posters (pics below), Rohan, Trickster, Habbo, Fresbo, Bots...etc.

Nope, I do not play all of these games. So far I've only tried Trickster Online. :) Posters are also given for other non Cherry Credit games, for example Baja (racing game) & Zeng Tu (their official website not working somehow). I didn't take a photo of the Elan Online though they also gave away free posters and bookmarks. Too many freebies.

Other than posters, free installation disks, post it notes, notebooks, nicely designed cubes...etc, there are also free magazines. I got these two magazines, both featuring Star Wars (on Wii) on their covers. Yupz, there are demos of this game at the convention as well.

Like the above goodies? Get them at the Games Convention! The last day is this Saturday, i.e. today! So hurry while stocks last, lol.

Related Posts:
- Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Short Tour
- Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City Convention

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec - Short Tour

Games Convention Asia 2008 is here! Today I popped by the event during lunch, and spent quite some time on the 4th floor of the Suntec Convention centre. There were a lot of games, covering online MMOs, standalone PC based, consoles (XBox, Wii), handhelds, and even card games.

This year the exhibitors are quite generous with their posters and game disks, and I've collected a pile of these items. Will likely share them around since I would not be interested in playing all of them.

Let me show some of the photos taken today, and perhaps snapshot of those posters / freebies in another post.

Here's the booths of Cheery Credits and MOL. I'm quite glad that these companies exisit to fill the gaps of micro-credits for online games. Their existence will help players, especially those young players with no credits cards. These companies allow for consolidation of game credits that can be used among different games. Essentially, buy 1 card from them (I got a free Cherry Card!), and you can use it among their supported games.

Here's the booths for others, e.g. card games, handhelds (yes, that is a handheld game about SpongeBob). It is useful for gamers to try out these games before deciding if it is worth it to buy. Different games suit different people. More importantly, one could try out the different game consoles (which will determine what are the games one can play) before committing to one.

With all the craze about Formula 1 night racing, of course there are game booths about racing.

For students considering their future education paths, there are also education providers like the polys in this event. Guess the event covers almost all aspects of gaming. Those high level issues of laws, virtual properties, social behaviours ...etc etc are covered in the conference. There were also news articles about games development locally, including one where they mentioned that there are now more female games developers. I guess that explains why there are now more games targeting female players as well?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008 @ Suntec City Convention

Games Convention Asia (GCA) 2008 is here! It will be held in Suntec Convention (Singapore) from 18th to 20th Sep 2008. The full schedule can be found here. General public visit to the convention is free, but you will have to pay about S$ 200 plus to attend the conference.

They have also organised a special Students' Day on the 20th Sep, where students get to enjoy a separate conference for free. Topics include 'Free to play MMOs' and 'The future of games', 'GAMBIT Internship', 'Assassin Creed' ... by speakers from Nexon, MIT...etc.

Well, while public visitors can attend the event for free, some folks have given me the pass which I could also use for the event. Wonder if entry to the event via this pass would entitle me to any free goodies? I know last year they gave away some rather cool t-shirts, but any other types of goodies, e.g. free installation disks for MMOs, posters...etc are equally welcome!