games industry GDC 2009

GDC09: Worlds In Motion Summit: Keynote

Raph Koster, Metaplace


Raph promised to be nice and not make us depressed this year. It was an elegy on “look how much we progressed as an industry during 2008”.

EDIT: Alice has a shorter and sweeter summary up on Wonderland.


VW just turned 30. MUD1 was done in 1978. One half of American adults are now gamers; “becoming mainstream” isn’t the problem anymore. Many predictions of last 30 years have come true.

We’ve seen a VW become a real, regulated bank (Mindark/Entropia). We said that would happen but perhaps didn’t entirely believe it.

You can buy a 16×16 jpg now that the recipient will receive and then delete upon receipt (we’re not just selling something as meaningless as 256 pixels, but we’re going even further and making it artificially non-permanent)

We’ve seen a congressional hearing streamed into SL. We said that government and policy and VW would come together eventually.

We said we’d have to clean up our act before the govt do it for us, and the EU has now put out a request for inputs for them to start doing it as govt.

China now levies a 20% tax on earnings inside VWs.

…this all hapepned just in the past year.

We saw Google launch Lively, close it down in 4 months, then get cloned by a chinese group (“NewLively”) in just 3 months, with a total copy of all the original.

URU live has [finally] come back as open-source/run by the players.

Serious litigation has started – the Worlds patent case against NCsoft et al. You know when patent lawyers show up that the industry is serious.

Weve seen Whirled do well (would like to cross-check against Daniel’s stats on Whirled he did today, but I had to miss that session, battery died :( )
We’ve seen middleware come up (smartfox etc) and do well

It’s no longer unusual to see a TV ad for a VW (disney/nickelodeon)

ComcastTown – major content distributors are seeing VW as a revenue source.

ARGs which went thruogh a trough are coming back, reborn as social-responsibility/common-good games. e..g Akoha, WWO.

Deep pervasive integration with SN’s [umm]. A VW on FB (yoville) became about as popular in EU/US as WoW.

A really huge MMO on it’s way: McDonald’s launching a VW with a login code to appear on every happy meal.

What we’re not doing: the amazing shrinking screen is becoming so hot that you cannot buy high-res laptops because the TFT plants are all making netbooks instead. But we have no experience of designing for micro screens, and we haven’t been trying.

We don’t have a web-embedded solution that’s use-everywhere. Flash is doing OpenScreen initiative. Unity and Silverlight are doing really well with penetration in their respective markets. The war is on, the battle for that space.

We haven’t mastred “MultiHeaded” experiences and games. Just saw Sparkle (SL IM on iPhone). So, we’re trying again there.

We don’t yet know where we go with place-based experiences (VW/MMO) in a world where everyone is moving to space-less comms (twitter et al).

[ADAM: yay! Death to the developer obsession with stupid space-based experiences – both online games and worse the VW’s. Finally!]

Virtual Goods are now used as a replacement for checking/current accounts because cellphone credits are more secure than local banking system in some rural 3rd world places.

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