Next week, developers will convene in Texas for the return of the Game Developers Conference Austin
, to be held from September 15th-18th. This year's event will offer four days of content focused on connected gaming, online worlds, and social networking.
Presented by Think Services (also parent of Gamasutra), this year's event features three notable keynotes -- from Sony Online Entertainment's John Smedley
, from a notable Blizzard duo
, and from successful social gaming newcomer Playfish
, addressing both the technical and business issues behind success in the online space.
The event will feature two days of summits and a partly overlapped three days of main conference content, with final sessions now announced
from notable developers at Nexon, BioWare Austin, 2D Boy, Zynga, CCP Games and many others.
Multiverse co-founder Corey Bridges is part of the GDC Austin advisory board, and talking to Gamasutra ahead of the event, he explains why the primary focus of the Austin event now extends beyond MMOs, thanks to a wider remit and new summits.
"One of the trends we tried to encapsulate by focusing on connected gaming is this rise of social networking, and the new social media component in games that has just come up in the last few years," he says. "Generally speaking, it's taken most of the traditional video game industry completely by surprise."
GDC Austin is now intended to serve as something of a hub for not only traditional developers of online games, but for emerging trends in connected play, like social networking via Facebook games, iPhone and new independent innovations.
The event will also feature four two-day summits: the Game Writers, Game Audio, iPhone Games and Independent Games Summits. "The Indie Summit is a huge part of this," says Bridges. "And there's the iPhone games," he continues. "There are a lot of people who are looking to jump onto that platform, because of its huge, explosive growth, who want to learn -- how they take their AAA pedigree and apply it to the most dynamic part of the video game industry right now."
"There's this whole new frontier of gaming," says Bridges. "There's this casualization... that I think is going to be a huge trend that we're just starting to see poke through this year, and is going to get really big over the next year."
With explosive growth often comes tough lessons, and the "game 2.0" space has seen a lot of saturation as it emerges at first, Bridges agrees. "But for what it's worth, I think these games are evolving," he says. "It's not going to all be Mob Wars
and Mafia Wars
next year, or two years from now."
Developers taking their first steps in this space "are going to come along and be complete world-beaters, and be revolutionary and fun," he predicts. "This is again going to catch the big companies by surprise. The entrenched, lazy companies [have not been] innovating, and new indies are going to come in and eat their lunches."
More information about the 2009 GDC Austin event is available at the event's official website