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What themes will dominate at GDC 2014?

Our Mavens lay out their expectations
What themes will dominate at GDC 2014?

Few events around the globe have the ability to get the games industry in a spin in quite the same manner as GDC.

The week long shebang in San Francisco is, for many, the focal point of the year, despite the fact it pops up in the spring when the year has barely got going.

As such, we were keen to ask our Mavens both those heading to the Moscone Center for GDC and those not what they think 2014's business in the Bay will bring to the table, and what themes will dominate.

So, we asked:

Arguably the biggest event on the mobile calendar is little over a week away, so we want to know what you think will come out of this year's GDC, what will the big trends be and what are you looking to take from it?

Will Luton, F2P author
Everyone will mention Flappy Bird at least once per talk. Conspiracies of Shenmue III will be rife. The fringes will be talking bit coin mining as monetisation.

Sandy Duncan, YoYo Games
There will be a lot of talk about how the opportunity has shifted from mobile to console for indie game devs.

Thomas Nielsen, Osao Games
I predict this year will be the turning point for F2P. Everyone will be talking about it, looking for the next big hit, but many are also starting to realise just how complex it is to be (and stay) relevant, and how fierce the competition has become with everything being free.

Between now and next year, I think we'll see a lot of diversifying - 'niche' is going to be the new black.

Oscar Clark, Applifier
Wasn't last year the turning point for F2P? It seemed to me that freemium was considered acceptable back then.

This year I suspect there will be a bit of a backlash related to (as Thomas says) the complexity and how going free isn't enough. Hopefully that means my mantra of Games-as-a-Service will become the new way of discussing this topic.

Essentially I'm hoping we stop overly focusing on the monetisation and instead focus on the other trends which matter including the lean startup, brand-based marketing, cloud computing, social gaming and put the focus back onto making better games.

I think Will is right about Flappy Bird, but we will also see lots of people slamming Dungeon Keeper as well, and perhaps he is also right that the fringes will talk about BitCoins, despite the recent series of hacking incidents on BitCurrency exchanges.

Not sure I quite agree with Sandy, I still think there are legs in the mobile industry yet, although I agree that console platforms reaching our to Indies is an amazing opportunity.

This idea of 'niche being the new black' is a really good point. I'm hoping we see people starting to talk more about quality and disruption in game design; but I fear we tend to look backward too often.

In an era where we have a truly mass-market audience and technologies which allow for multiple devices, thick or thin-clients, socialised experience we can do new things. That's what I want to hear about.

Jared Steffes, Furywing
Luton will announce that him and I have been working on Shenmue Th(f)ree to Play.

We will hear a lot about non-freemium and the rise of apps costing $2.99 plus on the US app charts. It is already happening. The transition to the smartphone becoming a legit game playing experience has finally been accepted into the consumers mind.

I am also betting there will be a lot of talk about the social and real money gambling casino experience. There have been enough acquisitions in that sector lately, and I do not believe we have see the end of them.