Last week, on January 24th and 25th, the industry conference Gamesforum descended on London, bringing with it a plethora of industry veterans and future industry luminaries.
The two day event, which took place in the very heart of the city in County Hall, Westminster — a luxurious venue which overlooks the Thames and stands in the wake of the London Eye — was the first time that organisers OsneyMedia had brought the new multi-platform event to the UK. Gamesforum, unlike its previous guise as Mobile Games Forum, had a name which was clear in its intent to bring the conversation to games as a whole, rather than simply the cellular marketplace.
Easily one of the biggest selling points for the event was the fact that it featured over eighty speakers from throughout the industry; from developer to press to investor and more.
There were, as a result, an amazing range of talks available, from Tokyo 42 publisher Mode 7’s Paul Kilduff-Taylor’s talk on tinkering with restricted marketing budgets, to Rami Ismail’s fireside chat about his learnings from recently watching his mother play games. In addition to this, there were over a dozen industry panels including ones based around breaking into the Chinese marketplace and the balance of monetization in games.
In addition to the talks, the event also featured a modest showfloor which included several upcoming titles that we’re very familiar with here at B3; the fantastic Lost Words, Mao Mao Castle, Dead End Job, and BFF or Die were present alongside Tetra: Elemental Awakening, Rico, and more.
The majority of the games which were present were also entered into one of the other major features of the event: The Game Dev Showdown. While competitions of this sort are present at many conference events — I, myself, infrequently judge at select events — The Game Dev Showdown’s arrangement saw each developer have a decent sized timeslot to pitch their game, business plan and company to the panel. It created a very specific, professional atmosphere to the proceedings, much more akin to an audition for a role in a play or TV show than others I’ve seen.
Game industry conferences do tend to be quite expensive when it comes to ticket prices, mostly due to the cost of hiring the venue and staff in consideration to the more specific audience they are targeting, Gamesforum, with it’s plethora of talks and more, was surprisingly good value for money. We were actually invited along as guests for the event, which bears stating, however for those who paid there was definitely a lot included in the standard delegate ticket.
What I guess I’m trying to build up to is that there were lots of free food and drinks around the event, and each day saw all attendees offered up extremely well prepared hot lunch and desserts. While free food and drink should probably never be something to measure an event against, it would be ridiculous for me to not point out that the food, if not the other parts of the event, put it above similarly scaled and priced conferences.
Moreso than most events I’ve attended, I do think that a very delicate and specific effort was made by the organisers to collect a highly skilled, wide selection of speakers. This showed on the showfloor throughout both days as well, as it was hard to not walk around without recognising developers or publishers. Perhaps better yet, publishers walked the halls having arranged meetings, or having left the fringe Meet the Publisher event which had been held. This meant that in one moment the B3 team would be talking to Jason Tuyen, developer of Balls, or Adam Boyne of Betajester about their next name, to turn around and be faced with the owners of Slitherine, Ageod, and Matrix Games — with not one of those three interactions being with anybody who was showcasing at the event.
For this, the fact that Gameforum was easily one of the greatest concentration of industry talent and the value for money. It’s impossible to not commend the team behind it and recommend the event for anybody looking to get sound advice and grow within the industry.
We’ll be covering several of the games we saw at the event, as well as running several interview follow-ups, over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes on the site or our Twitter.