Speaking on stage at yesterday’s London Games conference, Disney’s commercial director Matt Carroll delivered a guide for developers looking to ape the entertainment giant’s success with apps and social gaming.
Disney has recently met with immense success with apps like Where’s my Water? and online games like Garden of Time, and according to Carroll, lessons from a different era of the games industry helped the organisation achieve such an impact in gaming’s digital era.
In a talk titled ‘Old Tricks for New Dogs’, Carroll picked the year 1996 as typifying the boxed product era so often painted as very different from today’s industry.
After stating his belief that retail is "not going to go away", Carroll drew several comparisons between the games industry in 1996 and in 2012. He claimed that the developer-centric culture of the 1996 games industry has retuned, as have lower levels of development costs, and a concentrated retail environment. He drew other comparisons to frame his argument, claiming marketing has become as niche and tactical as it was in 1996, and pointing to the fact that a number of customer services are now in-house with developers, as they were in the mid 90s.
Arguing that analysis of the games industry in 1996 can help games developers today, Carroll presented a number of examples, encouraging studios to:
• "Build an organisation for the long-term with the future in mind."
• "Set the quality of work you stand for and give that your all."
• "Start with great content. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got great brands without great content. Doing that while knowing what you stand for is incredibly important
• "Consistantly build trust from the beginning. If you don’t dedicate ‘double-effort’ to building trust, you’re doing it wrong."
• "Licenses and sequels work for you."
• "Be sure of your success before you launch. Don’t rush to market unless you’re confident in what you’re making"
Carroll then concluded by highlighting his belief that today’s industry will be mirrored in the future, meaning today’s lessons matter for the future.
"What goes around comes around," he advised today’s developers. "We’ve been here before on the cusp of change, and we shouldn’t be afraid. Look at this period really carefully and think about what is going on behind the noise. I guarantee this era will come around again, so pay close attention."