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How Listening to Indie Developers Led to the Creation of a New Kind of Conference for Games.

My desire to educate developers on the business of games has been around for a long time. I’ve been in this industry for more than two decades and I’ve always been on the business side of the spectrum. That lead to a revelation nearly 10 years ago. I realized that a lot of the knowledge that I (and others in the industry) had, wasn’t common knowledge. We took it for granted, I assumed every developer knew how to vet a publisher or research the best publishers in the first place.

I was wrong.

Initially we started writing whitepapers, as business people that’s where we assumed everyone got their information.

I was wrong.

No one read them. We gave them away for free, we posted them to social media, we emailed them out to developers. Didn’t matter, no one read them. Then in 2017 we did a massive survey to hundreds of developers (577 to be exact). We wanted to find out what the biggest issues were for indie developers. One of those questions was “How do you prefer to consume knowledge”. The results shocked me.

Based on surveys from over 500 global developers

It turns out that although I’m great at selling and marketing games themselves, I suck at marketing and promoting a Twitch channel. So we’re constantly trying to get the word out and help these teams.

Now we are doing our part to get the knowledge “out there”, so what’s the next step? My second biggest issue with the industry is the sheer cost of networking and doing business. I’ve long said that the people who REALLY need to be at GDC and other conference to hear these speakers simply can’t afford it. A “Conference Pass” to hear the lectures at GDC will cost up to $1,500, hotels run $300 to over $1,000 per night, and THEN you have to get a flight. That’s why we’ve seen smaller, more regional shows pop up over the years. It’s more economical for the teams to participate this way.

Here’s are quotes from two companies I spoke with on Discord:

“Cost is hard to justify sometimes unless you have meetings scheduled. Most talks are recorded and available for free later. Going for potential networking can be hit and miss.”

“I think most young indies would say: “money”… I myself just get a bad chill with most of the speakers, since I rarely met someone who told me that speaker X opened up the way for them to achieve Y (actually no one yet)”

When it came to who they wanted to meet with, 74% said publishers, 49% said influencers, 20% said service providers, and nearly 40% said PR and marketing companies. We knew then that there was a need.

Now we’re bringing developers, publishers, service providers, sponsors, and influencers together for the first online business matchmaking event designed with indie developers in mind. There are no flights to book, hotel rooms to reserve, and expensive passes to buy. For as little as $85, companies can come together on April 15th and 16th this year. All a company needs is a laptop and headset.

Is it going to solve the issues in the industry that we see with Activision and Telltale? No. But it’s an opportunity to help indie’s grow their network and make their games more successful.

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