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8 Unmissable Talks At GDC San Francisco 2019

GDC San Francisco 2019 has come and gone. But with so much on offer, how can you make sure you got the most out of 2019's biggest event?

Director of Customer Operations at GameAnalytics

Editors note: This post was originally published before GDC. You’ll be able to find most of these talks on GDC’s vault, although this may depend on your ticket/membership type. 

The biggest gaming conference of the year has come and gone. There was literally hundreds of talks, discussions and activities which showcased some of the most important innovations taking place in the games industry today. Visitors found themselves in a tight spot this year, and found themselves asking ‘how do I spend my time?’.

Just because the conference in over, doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the biggest and best sessions this year had to offer. To give you a helping hand, we’ve listed 8 unmissable talks you need to catch up on to cure those post-GDC blues.

Day 1: Monday the 18th March 2019

Talk 1: So You’re Ready to Pitch to a Publisher? You’re Not

Topic: How to pitch your game to business development partners

When: 10:00am – 11:00am

Where: Room 2009, West Hall

Speakers: Rebekah Saltsman, CEO at Finji

At some point in your development process, you’re going to need to start talking about your game. But how do you know what to say? And what do potential partners really care about? Whether it’s connecting with publishers, investors, marketers or anyone else who can help you take your game further, preparing your pitch is a crucial phase you shouldn’t overlook.

Rebekah Saltsman, CEO at Finji, promises to share with us some real life examples of how they build and use their pitch documents, key art and gameplay videos. If you do decide to give this session a go, then you’ll leave having learnt what is needed to approach business development partners with confidence.

To learn more about this subject, we’ve put together a nifty post that you may find useful: Finding A Publishing Partner Vs Self Publishing – Everything You Need To Know

Talk 2: Instant Games Monetization with Publisher SOFTGAMES + Data Insights for Success (Presented by Facebook Gaming)

Topic: Lessons from SOFTGAMES and Facebook on data-driven game monetization

When: 1:20pm – 2:20pm

Where: Room 3020, West Hall

Speakers: Jim Liu, Engineering Manager at Facebook; Marisa Gilmore, Data Scientist at Facebook; Timothy Chan, Data Scientist at Facebook and Alexander Krug, Founder & CEO at SOFTGAMES

Being the world’s largest HTML5 games platform, this studio definitely has a few tricks up their sleeve. Together with some of Facebook Gaming’s leading Data Scientists, Alexander Krug (CEO of SOFTGAMES) promises to share his wisdom on the art of monetizing instant games, and using data-driven insights to fuel your success.

Instant game developers and publishers shouldn’t give this one a miss.

Day 2: Tuesday the 19th March 2019

Talk 3: Game Discoverability Day: Building a Community for Your Game from Scratch

Topic: Steps for building a game community from scratch

When: 10:00am – 11:00am

Where: Room 3007, West Hall

Speakers: Mike Rose, Director at No More Robots

Building a community for your game can be tricky, especially when you’re still working away on the core features of your project. And one of the biggest questions developers ask themselves is ‘how can I get people talking about my game before I’ve even launched it?’.

If you’ve found yourself asking just that, then you definitely shouldn’t give this one a miss. In this session, you’ll learn from start to finish how you can build and maintain your community of dedicated fans, before your title even hits the app stores.

Mike Rose from No More Robots is someone who has developed numerous successful communities for his games, and knows more than a few tricks that can be rolled out across various platforms (like Discord). If this is something you want to prioritise this year with your own development, attend this talk and learn how you can start your own community with confidence.

If you sadly can’t make this session, then don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Check out this post on 3 Creative Ways To Build Your Community Before Launching Your Game.

Talk 4: Design by the Numbers: Using Data for Good

Topic: How to use data to inform your game design

When: 1:20pm – 1:50pm

Where: Room 2016, West Hall

Speakers: Evan Losi, Lead Game Designer at Scopely

We may be a bit biased with this one… But in all seriousness, it’s easy to mess things up when playing around with data, especially if that data is helping you make decisions about your title. And whether it’s a small beta test or a global launch, your players’ actions can provide you a ton of information on the good and bad about your title.

In this session, seasoned mobile designer of Scopely, Evan Losi, promises to show you how to use data to make your game even better. You’ll learn how data can be used to improve your game design, and ultimately achieve greater success with your title. (Note, this isn’t a technical talk, and focuses more on goals.)

If you don’t already love data, you will do after this talk.

Day 3: Wednesday 20th March 2019

Talk 5: How to Win the Chinese Mobile App Market (Presented by Mintegral)

Topic: Practical tips for how to monetize your games in China

When: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Room 2024, West Hall

Speakers: Erick Fang, CEO at Mintegral, Tiffany Ou, Sales Director at NativeX

With over 480 million mobile players in China, it’s safe to say that this market has one of the more lucrative gaming industries in the world. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that western developers are trying to get their slice of this particular pie.

There is clearly great potential for developers and publishers who are able to break through into this exciting market, but China comes with its own unique challenges and hurdles that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Lending your ear to Erick Fang of Mintegral and Tiffany Ou of NativeX is one way you can navigate the terrain with more confidence.

Day 4: Thursday 21st March 2019

Talk 6: Common Pitfalls of F2P Development and How to Avoid Them

Topic: Understanding the F2P game market

When: 10:00am – 11:00am

Where: Room 2002, West Hall

Speakers: Mael Novat, Senior Producer at Kongregate

The F2P games space is a massively exciting area of the gaming world. However, with its rapidly shifting trends and constantly increasingly competition, going in unprepared is a fool’s move. In this talk, you can gain a better understanding of how the F2P game market works, and how you can position yourself to avoid the various pitfalls that exist here.

Through case studies and metrics from Kongregate’s extensive portfolio, including ‘Animation Throwdown’, ‘AdVenture Capitalist’ and ‘Bit Heroes’, Mael Novat will cover a broad range of important issues for developers. These include how you can understand and evaluate your game as a business, and how you can start factoring in retention metrics, monetization, and technology into your development strategy.

Day 5: Friday 22nd March 2019

Talk 7: How to Build a VIP Department to Drive Engagement and Revenue in Social Gaming

Topic: How to set up, maintain or improve your VIP Department

When: 10:00am – 11:00am

Where: Room 301, South Hall

Speakers: Gemma Doyle, Vice President of Player Success at Zynga

The value of VIPs in games can’t be overstated. With many titles relying on the revenue from a select few players, it makes sense to cater your investments to this segment of your market. Zynga offer an enlightening talk based on their own success with their VIP management strategies for their popular social games.

If you’re interested in how VIP schemes can be a strong tool for building relationships with players, this one’s for you. You’ll learn about how to gain essential information about your most important customers, and ways to cater your future development strategies to them. Key areas of coverage will be player segmentation, using data science, understanding VIP KPIs and how to build structures and resources within your team to support VIP schemes.

Talk 8: Dinosaurs and Volcanoes: Roblox Education’s ‘Jurassic World’ Challenge

Topic: Core principles of game design for new developers

When: 11:30am – 12:00pm

Where: Room 301, South Hall

Speakers: Genevieve Johnson, Senior Instructional Designer at Roblox

How did you get into game development? Today, there are so many innovative and engaging ways to enter the world of game design and development, including simple and intuitive platforms out there, like Roblox. As a game creation system that has been a huge hit with novice developers across the world, it’s always a pleasure to see the impact such an innovative and useful platform has had.

In this talk, Genevieve Johnson will share with you the success of Roblox’s first design and coding challenge series, developed in collaboration with the movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. You’ll also get a chance to discover the innovative methods being used to engage and incentivize young developers by the Roblox Education team. So, if you’re interested in developing content and teaching curriculum for future game developers, we highly recommend this one.

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8 Unmissable Talks At GDC San Francisco 2019