10 years of Game Connection

10 years of Game Connection
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 8th 2010 at 8:00AM

A look back at a decade of industry meetings

This month the Game Connection networking event series celebrates its tenth anniversary. Will Freeman talks to managing director Pierre Carde about the history of the industry’s leading business meeting gathering…

What was the original vision when Game Connection was founded 10 years ago?
The vision behind Game Connection was both practical and engaged.

The core idea was to make the process for a developer to sell and finance a game project simple and easy.

Ten years ago the games industry’s creative teams didn’t have an event to bring playable demos to and pitch their know-how to potential publishers; especially console and tech developers. Game Connection’s architecture and values were also designed by game developers themselves for game developers.

Back in 2000 our local industry was at its pinnacle. I was myself a game producer before owning Game Connection and I can you tell how hectic the spirit was between colossal publishers like Infogrammes/Atari, EA and a bunch of highly talented indie or in-house studios such as Eden Games, Arkane studio, Etranges Libellules, Phoenix Interactive, Widescreen Games and others. All that positive energy was gathered to answer all developers’ needs.

How has Game Connection expanded its remit since the first show?
There are more events. Since 2001, the event also changed from a France-centric event at first to two international events gathering the whole industry with up to 20 nationalities. The event has evolved from a developers and publishers-only to all players from the production pipeline – including the services providers and outsourcing companies.

We also now give the opportunity to our attendees to meet investors and that’s something the games industry really gets with the Game Connection Invest initiative. Today, it would be crazy to think that you can grow a business as a developer without having an excellent business model in place.

We are also really eager to keep offering what the current market needs by bringing together the good players and to add exciting new initiatives like Game Connection Selected Projects and Game Connection Invest, rather than offering only the same, limited event each and every year.

How have events in new territories and countries bolstered what Game Connection offers?

The global landscape was different 10 years ago. That’s a fact and the real catch for any trade show is always to revamp, rethink, and reinvent itself to bring the best quality of service and return on investment to participants. Over the last 10 years, only a few happy events have grown outside their own frontiers to achieve a real international recognition.

Game Connection is among the top-five events with E3, GDC, TGS and Gamescom in terms of business results, and is the fourth oldest after GDC, TGS and E3.

I’ve seen a couple of other events trying to mimic Game Connection, and we’re flattered. But, we’ve been doing this successfully for a long time and we have long standing relationships with key industry players, so we expect to continue in our leadership position with ongoing and  permanent improvements.

What has the impact of Game Connection actually been on the industry?
The impact was immediate in 2001 and Game Connection’s effect on the industry has continued to grow throughout the past decade.

The number of developers demoing new titles, the number of interested publishers, and the number of attendees has expanded consistently every year. Even during the difficult global economic challenges of 2008 and 2009 the attendee numbers rose significantly.

We think that these growing numbers provide evidence that the industry believes Game Connection to be worth its time,  In turn that tells us there are professionals making deals which both sides of the industry– developers and publishers – think are especially good for their businesses.

How has Game Connection changed over the years to reflect the changing industry?
Nothing and everything. We kept the format and the skeleton the same and the rest of the event is renewed almost completely. The philosophy behind Game Connection remains unchanged. It was created by a non-profit association and, even though the team behind it bought it to run it as a private project, our DNA is still very much non-profit. We want to help the industry grow and develop as much as we did ten years ago.
The industry has changed significantly, probably more than a lot of other industries. Luckily enough, most people are great individuals in the game industry, and that makes every Game Connection a very fun and worthwhile event.

The networking gathering has shifted from a console market to a global production and finance market, that is probably the main change.
www.game-connection.com

Connecting people

Some of the industry’s leading developers and publishers reveal what Game Connection means to them, and offer some advice…

Pete Smith
Executive producer, SCEE
“When it comes to discovering new talent Game Connection Europe has been one of the high points in the calendar for the past ten years. In allowing easy access and opportunity to catch up with established studios while being introduced to up-and-coming developers it is one of the key annual events for the ongoing health, growth and innovation within the games industry.”

Casper Grey
Acquisitions manager, Square Enix
London Studios
“There are always pitches that surprise and intrigue me – you never know what the next meeting will bring. It’s an event that constantly reminds you of the passion and dedication to the craft that is so prevalent in our industry. We’re all in this to make games that are great entertainment, that reach the biggest possible audience and that deliver commercial success for everyone involved. Over the last decade, developer/publisher relationships have grown into collaborative partnerships and, to me, this is a positive sign of a maturing industry.”

Raphael Colantonio
President and co-creative director,
Arkane Studios/Bethesda
“We signed two publishing deals following up meetings with publishers we probably wouldn’t have even thought of if it weren’t for Game Connection. When we were independent, there was simply no better way to meet all publishers in such a fast and cost effective way. Now that we’re part of Bethesda, we still attend the event from the buyer’s side”

Martyn Brown
Co-founder, Team17
“For developers I’d advise that they try and present themselves and their projects very clearly, keeping the pitch short and succinct. With each meeting only lasting 30 minutes, you need to have plenty of time for discussion. I think it’s also helpful to understand that developer’s first meetings with publishers should be considered very valuable introductions and first impressions are very important, so make yourself and your projects memorable – the real work will come in follow-up talks, meetings and such.”

Game Connection – The main event

Like its predecessors Game Connection’s tenth anniversary show is designed to bring together those from development, publishing, finance, outsourcing and a wealth of other disciplines for focused business meetings.

The event’s unique Meeting Application tool has been conceived to make it easy to secure face-to-face time with dozens of prospective business partners.

Glance over the list of over 1,400 companies large and small available to spend face-to-face time with, and it’s clear Game Connection offers a significant boon to attendees’ prospects.

This year’s show takes place in Lyon, France, and runs from Tuesday, November 16th until Thursday, November 18th.

For information on attending visit www.game-connection.com