August 29, 2018

Gamescom 18 - Reflections

  • Nordic historical and religious motif remains very popular among devs across the world (which as a Norseman warms my cold heart). Here’s hoping some will drill a little bit deeper than just serving as a mere aesthetic theme or reason for conflict. Our cultural heritage is more than just hurling an axe to the face of a draug or jötunn. That being said, if FromSoftware ever makes a game in a viking setting I’d be the first in line ;-)  
  • Game + blockchain is a marriage that more than a few companies is trying to figure out and capitalise on. Whether it will become a long and happy marriage remains to be seen as half of their pitches still sounds like mumbo jumbo to my ears.
  • Indiedevs of all nationalities continues to be driven by passion and pure willpower, which often puts them too far down the risky path of a developing a potentially amazing little game that still haven’t been validated on the market. Not to mention their lack of a proper marketing strategy. It’s both frustrating and yet endearing to see. For some it’s only by failing that they will really learn and find their foothold in this dynamic and cutthroat industry of ours.
  • Large casual mobile juggernauts in both East and West give hints of having tapped out the casual market and are looking into the midcore and hardcore segments. Seems like they are all feeling the sting of Fortnite.
  • VR and AR is nowhere to be seen
  • Battle Royale inspired games and mechanics are plentiful across PC, console and mobile platforms (hardly surprising)
  • Investment eagerness in games from Eastern, as well as Western, individual VCs, VC firms and large corporations have increased in general across the industry.
  • Game incubators, such as ourselves, is starting to get somewhat radical propositions from various sectors of the industry. Why settle for just a portfolio or a IP lineup when you can have an entire ecosystem?
  • Many international devs are interested in the Scandinavian game industry and are willing to go north if they have the opportunity. Will the process of getting a Swedish working visa improve soon or will it get worse after the election in September?
  • Indiedevs from Eastern Europe and Russia shows a higher level of business maturity, insight and humbleness compared to their western counterparts.
  • American indiedevs asks for upfront investment within the first five sentences after the meeting have started. They seem to believe that all incubators and accelerators works like the ones in Silicon Valley. When I mention that our incubator is a non-profit organisation that doesn’t take any equity in our startups they walk away with their mind blown.
  • The Scandinavian and Asian love affair continues. The trend of large Chinese and Korean corporations making strategic moves in the Nordic region to secure innovation, talent and high quality products doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. While there are some worries for industrial espionage and a long term financial threat to Scandinavia, for which I’m not that worried since innovation and problem solving is like a national pastime for us Norsefolk. We have the long, cold and dark winters that works in our advantage as they boost our creativity and productivity.
  • Between THQ Nordic, Paradox Interactive, Raw Fury, Coffee Stain and Thunderful the increased domestic presence of publishers in Sweden combined with the domestic interest for investing in games things are really starting to heat up in the PC and console market in the north. As with most publishers and investors they are all very selective and careful with which studios and games they get involved with. Going forward international publishers will notice they aren’t able to cherry pick in the Scandinavian market as they once did. They will have to settle for the leftovers after the Swedish publishers have had their early bird meal. One way international publishers could combat that would be establishing a Swedish publishing branch. Finland is still trucking along with its deep vertical in mobile games.
  • Not really a new observation but nevertheless a somewhat troubling one. When an ever growing amount of indiedevs that pitch games built in Unity or Unreal which unconsciously resembles each other in look and feel it makes it even more refreshing when someone have built their game with their own tech. The turnkey solution Unreal and Unity offers is incredible and very efficient to prototype a new game idea in but it is a bit sad that it seems to be at the cost of devs building their own proprietary tech.

Per Micael Nyberg

Business developer & Designer