Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts from DICE 2010 (Dice-10-post1)

I got back from DICE Friday, and my head is still swimming a bit with all the information I soaked up.

Overall, the sentiment seemed cautiously upbeat, certainly more so than GDC. Studio closures are still happening, but there was a feel that a good deal of the blood-letting happened when publishers canned many of their 'B' titles last year.

Like with GDC, there was a good deal of noise about console downloadable, iPhone, Facebook, etc. Unlike GDC though, this conference is heavily slanted toward 'big game' pubs and devs. Many in the audience are clearly biased when it comes to all other platforms and business models. They may be keeping an open mind, but messages like that given in John Schappert's talk ("don't give up on shiny discs just yet") are both a voice of reason, and an indication of the skepticism about these new models. There's validity on both sides. The world is changing, but maybe not as fast as some would have us believe.

G4 has vids up of all the sessions. Some thoughts on a few of those I managed to attend:

Disney keynote. I wrote on facebook while it was happening: "The Disney keynote is an amazing concatenation of stereotypes, platitudes, and stock photo pablum. Several of us in the back are playing 'predict the next slide'. I'll take "old folks playing wii sports in a retirement home" for a thousand, Alex. We have a winner!" ' nuff said.

Designing Outside the Box. Best session of the conference. Lengthier post here. Best quote from it [while poo-pooing convergence] "The iphone is hte Pocket Exception: It's the Swiss army knife. Like a swiss army knife, it does everything (not necesarily perfectly) but fits in your pocket. However, if someone gave you a 24-inch swiss army knife that had a butcher clever, a spatula, knife, fork, spoon, etc, and said here is the ideal device for your kitchen, you would say bullshit. And THIS is why everyone hates the iPad."

EEDAR's Forces at Play. Another one of my favorites. Lots of analysis here. A couple interesting observations though:
  • The "focus on quality" the point to as resulting in higher meta-critic scores I read as just "publishers cancelled a bunch of their B titles" - it's a focus on quality, but in a different way.
  • The shift away from Q4-for-focused release calendar toward more distributed looked like it was actually cyclical - meaning that early in console life-cycle publishers focus more on Q4 releases - makes sense as the consoles will be big Xmas pushes
The one down-side of the above talk (and one would infer EEDAR's data as a whole) is that while they made a small reference to the fact that they have no data on PC downloadable, iphone, MMO subs, etc, they then didn't note that these things could have been part of what was impacting those trends noted in the presentation.

Randy Pitchford's talk. The talk was OK, strayed from the point in the middle a bit, but came together a bit. I love his historical example to back the main point of the talk, and the way his talk came full circle. Bravo.

The hot topics sessions were pretty good. I posted some thoughts on one of them here.

Lots of others worth checking out, a few of them, not so much. Still, they are posted and free so make a point of viewing them over the next week or two.

It's worth noting that this is a great move on the part of the organizers, putting their money where their mouth is, and showing that the real value in attending the conference is in the networking, so the session vids are just a sales tool. [GDC folk take note!]

Bonus: Best comment from the show, IMHO: At one point when Richard Garriott was speaking, a woman sitting next to me turned and said "Is that the same Richard Garriott that went into space?!".

I replied "Yes it is. However I'll bet that 9 out of 10 people in this room are remarking 'wow! that's the same Richard Garriott that created Ultima' and really aren't impressed with the whole getting shot into space thing!"