Nordic Game 2012: Finance panel says San Francisco costs provide opportunity for European devs
In a panel talk about financing hotspots, there was plenty of discussion of how the mobile-social business is developing.
"Tablet gaming is absolutely enormous. I think it's a massive play for home gaming and that's dragging the entire industry into mobile," pointed out Ian Baverstock of Tenshi Consulting, of the wider shift that's occurring.
There was also consensus that while the industry needs to focus on multi-platform gaming, it needs to make this transparent to players.
Tanu-Matti Tuominen, co-founder of Vision+ Fund, said, "Mobile is about the customer's need to take games wherever they go. It's not about devices."
"Users don't think in terms of platforms. They don't understand platforms," argued Thomas Bidaux from ICO Partners.
"They just want to be able to play their games on any platform."
Do it yourself
It was a thread taken up by Todd Tribell, co-founder of Digital Capital.
"Platforms are confusing for the consumer," he said. "Using the browser means a game or service doesn't confuse and fragment."
This plays into the future for technologies such as HTML5; an area that Kwasi Asare from Fighter Interactive was keen on.
He also said he was excited by areas such as augmented reality and geo-location mobile games.
Another big discussion point was Zynga's impact in the market.
"Zynga is in a very strong position and it's rumoured to be announcing new products in June to back up its platform," said Tribell.
"It's now a major player in terms of publishing, but I think its core focus is now its marketing position."
Baverstock was less sure, however, that Zynga could balance the different skills it requires.
"It's hard to combine platforms and publishing. We see that in terms of console space," he said. "I think Zynga is going to find it hard to balance building a platform and making games."
Location was taken up as subject in terms of whether the current valuation of San Francisco companies was over-heating the entire industry.
"San Francisco can be cost prohibitive now. It's providing a good opportunity for places like Berlin and Scandinavia," said Asare.
Bidaux said that ICO Partners didn't even look at investments in the Bay Area.
"We view it as there's San Francisco and there's the rest of the world. We don't go there," he stated.
"You have awesome talent but there are big challenges."
As a UK-based operation, Tenshi doesn't look at US companies at all.
"As an investor, we're looking for new opportunities, and the problem is that San Francisco is saturated," said Baverstock.
Instead, the panel's view was it was more likely that the unique new games they would invest in would emerge from other parts of the world that think about games in a different manner.
One example given was World of Tanks, the PC MMOG from Belarus-based developer Wargaming.net - a game that Bidaux confessed he refused to invest in in 2008.