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Casual Connect Europe Retrospective

Last week I visited the Casual Connect Europe. It was great to maintain your connections, meet new people and listen to industry veterans talk about the future of gaming. In this article I would like to highlight the most interesting stuff I attended.

Koen Deetman, Blogger

February 17, 2014

13 Min Read

Last week I visited the Casual Connect Europe Convention in Amsterdam together with my brother Paul Deetman. I wasn't there to showcase developments with KeokeN Interactive, a little too early for that. Nonetheless it was great to maintain your connections, meet new people and listen to industry veterans talk about the future of gaming. In this article I would like to highlight the most interesting stuff I attended.


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page 
"Paul and me looking way too serious"


Molyneux's Monetisation Annoyance


An interesting talk was given by Peter Molyneux. He's been in the game industry for a very long time. Known for games like "Black & White" and "The Fable Franchise". One of the strongest pointers in his talk went to current monetisation strategies. In his opinion (shared by me) we are educating the casual audience in a wrong way. We tell them gaming is free, as soon as you want to achieve a goal you have to invest large amounts of time or pay your fee to achieve your goals. In this way gamers will look at eachother and say "you are better at the game because you threw in more money than I did". Molyneux is determined change is needed. He wants fairer deals if it comes to monetising games and in-app purchases.


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"Peter Molyneux, passionately bashing monetisation techniques with his smooth voice"



Kern's Road to Success

A lot of service providers pop-up everywhere. Kern strictly pointed out that using marketing budgets per player is best done on Facebook. A must have in his words. Launch your game fast and quickly iterate after. Kern also gave tips when to "kill your game". When you have a broad audience, high ARPU and high virality, it's logically a hit. When you have a Niche Audience, low ARPU and low virality, kill it, even when you love it. In this case when the audience is broad. There is a lot of work to do, no need to kill the game yet. Accompanied with high virality, working on monetisation is essential. Facebook helps you drive users most in Kern's opinion.


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"The backside of Oliver Kern, it seems he wears hoodies"



Ahlstrom's Humoristic Approach

So, Ahlstrom was giving 10 tips to sell your indie-game. He stood there as spokesperson from indie-game distributor "Desura". He told us he left the company because he's busy with his own company. Ahlstrom stresses that promotional material for your game is essential. He explained games sometimes get rejected on platforms such as Desura mainly because their promotional material lacks quality, even when the game is good. Games who are "so and so" but have great screenshots and trailers could easily be chosen over better games. Besides having a very humoristic way of presenting he told us how his own "Blocksworld" failed to achieve understanding and acknowledgement when their trailer was way too 'serious'. When throwing this out of the door they created a trailer focussed on all the meaningless fun you can have with blocksworld. I couldn't stop laughing the first time I saw the trailer. Physics are fun, especially in blocksworld!

Blocksworld's Hilarious Trailer:




source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"Tomas, a stand-up comedian in the making"



Romanos Helps Us Drive The Company

In my opinion this talk from Ella Romanos was a little gem to be found. She told us about surviving the 'start-up' fase in your game studio. What comes next? and where do we need to pay attention? She told us hiring people is one of your largest responsibilities to your company. Don't take this lightly she stresses. We should all make a list on what people are most suitable in our companies. Not only on skill and resume, but there has to be a 'spark'. Even in the slightest hesitation Romanos argues you should not hire a candidate. She told us about "work for hire projects". If you are in desperate need of money, you should consider only taking a project for the money. Explain this to your team and they will understand. When business is going allright and money isn't an important factor anymore she greatly advises not to take on projects just for the money. Where does your company stand for and what do you and your team work best on? Consider these elements carefully when doing work for hire.


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"Ella, looks innocent, but clearly knows her business"



Kerssemakers's Progressive, Stubborn but Fortunate Way

Does anyone know Reus? a question Manuel Kerssemakers asked the audience. Many people raised their hands. Apparantely a lot of people know Reus because Abbey Games sold an amazing number of 600,000 units of the game. Kerssemakers explained how he promised his developers they would get payed for their hard work afterwards. "Because the game is going to be a success" Right was he! Determination helped them a lot in the process. They convinced themselves and ignored the fact people always tell your first attempt will fail. Allthough they had success this wasn't without struggles. Kerssemakers told us they were not greatly skilled in the visual side of the game. He also explained they are not avoiding developers that want to help with their game, "they just need to share the same passion about Reus". Kerssemakers finished with " If there are any publishers, and or developers in the room that think this sounds stupid or funny, get used to it, because this is how many indies will sound.


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"It's been said the Dutch are the tallest people in the world, take a wild guess who's Manuel?"



The Indie Game Showcase

The largest hall in the beautifull "Beurs van Berlage" was used for a massive indie game showcase. It was the place to be for meet-ups. I have to say the 'map' wasn't very clear about where I was at the floor. It took me ages to find some of the indie developers, also because it was very crowded. I had a nice talk with 'Tomas Sala' showing me his textureless game "Oberon's Court". We laughed at the fact my way of touching a tablet is pretty special. For some reason my touches were not registered as much as Tomas's. I also had a nice talk with Sparpweeds "Richard Boeser". I even played their Ibb & Obb together with my brother, the way it's meant to be played! We agreed on the fact we need more couch gaming experiences. We've played a lot of beautiful indie-games and I was impressed by some ("Blek" for example).

Tomas Sala's Oberon's Court (The textureless game).


source: Casual Connect Facebook Page
"The afternoon Pizza serving was amazing, they were gone before the plates hit the tables"



The Indie Prize Awards

A small contest with a little bit of flavor of the "Oscars". It was fun to see the "audio guy" struggle with the different 'tunes' to play at the right moment. Congratulations on the Wins & Nominations for the Casual Connect Indie Prize Award to my Dutch friends: Reus (Abbey Games), Remembering (Monobanda, SonicPicnic), The Flock (Vogelsap), Catch-22 (MangoDown), and Ibb and Obb (Sparpweed, Codeglue). Some awesome dutch game production!


(Reus, Remembering, The Flock, Catch 22, Ibb & Obb)



Overall Trends "Where does the wind blow"?

If I have to sum up the overall trend for the future I would say mobile games keep on growing. It seems "Cross-Platform" is an important aspect of the future. Nearly every talk I have heard something about dealing with "Cross Platform". Facebook seems to be the way to go on gathering your target audiences. A largely growing trend is HTML5 games. Alexander Krug told us to keep your eye on online gaming platforms. They are going to shift towards mobile support. That means we do not have to install an app anymore but we can directly play games from our "mobile browsers". According to David Kim and his company Animoca the PC is still the largest gaming platform. Mainly because 200,000,000+ are gaming on Facebook. It seems people spend more time "in-game" when playing on a tablet compared to "telephone devices". Jeremy Wells from App Annie told us most revenue is made from in-app purchases and seems to stick for a while. In revenue and downloads "Arcade & Action" games seem to be the highest in ranks within the mobile boundaries.

Oh yes, thanks for all the congratulations on my birthday wednesday at the conference ;)

Did you attend Casual Connect Europe? What were your experiences?


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Blog: http://www.koendeetman.com

Twitter: @KoenDeetman
Facebook: Koen.Deetman

Company: KeokeNInteractive


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