The New York gaming conference is a complete who’s who of some of the most influential people in the gaming world. Every year New York City plays host to the gaming conference and this time the event was held at the New York City Jewish heritage museum by Battery Park in lower Manhattan. The morning started off with breakfast, a welcoming ceremony and two panels which ended around the time I arrived at the conference at 10:30am. The first panel I attended was entitled the state of the gaming industry.
This panel was moderated by Eric Golding, Managing Director, Crossover Technologies and the speakers were: Matt Hulett, chief gamer, Gamehouse (Rea Networks), Owais Farooqui, SVP Digital Publishing, Atari, Julie Schumacher, SVP & GM of Media, RockYou, Sean Spector, Co-founder & SVP of Business Development and Content, Gamefly and Omar Abdelwahed, Executive Producer, Ubisoft Entertainment.
The general consensus of this panel was how much the gaming industry will expand over the next five years, up until 2015. Parks Association claimed that “social gaming will become a billion dollar industry by 2015.” How many people do you see on a NYC train pull out a smart phone or handheld device and start button mashing? Guaranteed nearly everyone you pass by on the street is a gamer. The gaming industry has improved so much that primarily on-line game rental companies, like Gamefly, opened branch stores in several locations nationwide. This is in contrast to video rental companies, like Blockbuster Video, that actually had to close most of their stores nationwide and do most of their rentals on-line or from kiosks set up in strategic places.
The demand for games had increased so Gamefly expanded just to keep up with the market. However, Gamefly can boast success now but they soon might be in the same boat as Blockbuster Video as Julie Shumaker predicts that “1/3 of portable gaming is going to fail dude to Android and IOS games.” What is the need for portable or handheld games when you can download 0 – 99cents games for your phone? This was the topic of the next panel which was a debate about if portable devices are necessary considering how many people play games on their android or IOS phones.
The moderator for the debate was Mike Vorhaus, President, Magid Advisors and the debaters were: Pro-team – Gene Hoffman, CEO, Vindicia and his partner Alex St. John, CEO Hi5 while the Con-team consisted of Andrew Schneider, Co-founder & president, Live Gamer and Teemu Huuhtanen, EVP, Sulake Corp (Habbo).
Debating that handheld systems will still be in fashion even as phone game apps continue to gain popularity, Andrew Schneider stared the debate off strong when he stated “Teemu and I are wearing black because handhelds are fucking dead!” Andrew and Teemu then went onto say that ‘twice as many IOS sold over handhelds but I immediately thought ‘are they consumers using these phones for gaming or for other things like simply texting. The ‘con’ team also claimed that there are over 14 billion apps, most of which are far cheaper to buy than the $40 handhelds. Teemu also stated the cost of making handhelds isn’t very profitable.
The ‘pro’ team re-bottled that phone touch screens are bad for certain genres of games, like first person shooters. Phones will lose battery power faster as your phone tries to keep up with your gaming, texting and internet. Also when you receive tweets, texts, or calls, your game automatically stops each time. Cell phones are expensive and kids are destructive by nature. What parent would give their child a $200 - $500 cell phone to play games on? Kids can’t even bring cell phones into schools anymore but they can bring handheld video games.
Before and after the debate began and ended, the moderator took an audience poll to see which side they agreed with mores. Before the debate, the audience was split 32 – 32; after the debate, the audience was still split 32 – 32. The moderator determined that the ‘pro’ side had won as they had a stronger argument.