Former GDC boss uses new-found freedom to air doubts over key industry trends

Moledina pours scorn on in-game ads and digital distribution

In one of the opening sessions of the CEDEC 2008 Japanese development conference, former GDC executive director Jamil Moledina used his new-found freedom to address – and quash – some of the emerging trends in contemporary game development.

Moledina explained that in his role as director of GDC, it was necessary for him to be positive about game development trends – but now that he was no longer in the role, he admitted that some of them had a less rosy picture than had been initially painted.

Picking several topics of particular interest to developers, Moledina presented several anonymous testimonies solicited from various game developers across the US and Europe aiming to present a wider view of the landscape than he would have been able to before.

Of particular interest was digital distribution and the view that, eventually, it would replace retail boxed goods. While there was a number of quotes from developers who didn’t feel that their product could have been published otherwise, there were several from people who’d suffered by stepping into the new frontier.

One developer explained that by pricing their game incorrectly and being "a little off in the positioning, we didn’t do as well as we could have." Another pointed out that the boxed version of its game sold ten times more copies than the digital version did, and another lamented the importance of the small landing page placement opportunities on most online portals.

The second part of the talk focused on in game advertising – with Moledina saying that, from his research, it didn’t appear that in-game advertising could support AAA games, only casual ones, with one developer saying that the problem was balancing how the ad fits into the world with the visibility that advertisers required. Moledina even pointed out problems that the in-game advertising companies were having in getting clients on board, with one executive telling him that advertisers "couldn’t grasp that [in-game advertising] gives them better mindshare than just eyeballs on a website."

The final industry buzzword to fall under Moledina’s gaze was transmedia, or that of the games development world dovetailing with the film production world. One executive was quoted as saying that ‘they tried this in the 80s and it didn’t work then’, with another saying that Hollywood needed to learn that "key film-makers and key developers need to be brought in at a very early stage."

It wasn’t all one sided, however – the film studio view was presented as well. One studio executive lamented that game publishers would only allocate budget to a title when they knew which stars were attached to a project and which director, and another said that they only viewed mobile game collaborations worthwhile as "the time and investment to create is smaller."

Moledina’s closing message was to highlight the danger of self-fulfilling prophecies in predicting trends publically, and to warn against investment based on what everyone was saying but instead ‘challenge everything’.

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