The Game Developers Conference (GDC) takes place this coming week in San Francisco, and as usual I expect a great deal of news and insights about the gaming industry from the show. Close to 20,000 people involved in some way with the gaming business will be there, and there will be a spate of announcements, news, and rumors about gaming. I'll be blogging about my impressions of the show, and the information I gather, and my analysis of that information.
If you're attending this show, here are some thoughts about how to get the most from it. Most of these tips are useful for any trade show or convention.
See who's exhibiting, and how much space they have. You can get a very good feel for where things are headed in the business by seeing what types of businesses are paying for exhibit space, and how big their booths are. See lots of businesses catering to console developers? Looks like console development is going to be expanding. Lots of vendors talking about payment services? Look for lots of small companies, many trying to get bigger, who will need payment-related services.
When you chat with people, what are they saying about the business? Is it bad, good, changing? Have they changed jobs? Working at a smaller or a larger company? If you talk with a large number of people, and a good cross-section of the people, you'll get a sense of what's important to them about the business.
What are the seminars/lectures about, and how well-attended are they? Sure, the really popular speakers or the talks about a hit game will have a good crowd. But just looking at the list of talks can tell you what people are interested in, and seeing which talks are SRO gives you an indication of what people are interested in. For instance, talks about sales figures in mobile games a year ago were packed... because numbers are so hard to find, most of the companies being private.
You can learn much more from these indicators than you can from most keynote speeches. Marketers need to be tuned into these kind of indicators to get their own feel for where things are headed, and how fast they're likely to get there.