GDC 2013 day one

The Game Developers Conference -- GDC -- got off to a slow if dignified start yesterday. The show floor doesn't open until later in the week but the workshops are well underway, and everyone from first time developers to seasoned producers are getting together, sharing what they know, and learning from each other.

Mid-morning, Simon and I headed over to the Glu offices to get a look at their big announcement for the show, Frontline Commando: D-Day. Glu is expanding rapidly, and their office -- one of several internationally -- was close to overflowing with talent. One side was brightly lit and filled to overflowing with multiple monitors and all manner of activity. The other side was darker, with combat netting, and other props. I'll let you guess which side had the Android action figure poised for battle.

Glu makes free-to-play games with in-app purchases for consumables like, in the case of Frontline Commando, grenades and other upgraded weaponry. From talking with them, they seemed really concerned with balancing the game so players never felt frustrated or like they were hitting into artificial, hostile walls. Personally, I want developers to make a ton of money on iOS games so that they invest a ton of money back into making even more iOS games. Glu has been consistent with the way they handle free-to-play and IAPs, and I think that consistency helps set expectations for gamers, and ultimately ends up benefiting everyone.

Like I wrote in the true cost of free-to-play there doesn't seem to be an ideal solution -- we won't pay up-front for games, game studios need to stay in business, and Apple hasn't changed the core conditions of the App Store. So, we're left with looking for the best balances possible. Glu, among others, seem to be doing just that.

After lunch, Simon went off to preview some more games and I went to visited the Pocket team to learn more about their new publishers program. Then Pocket developer an all-around bon-vivant Steve Streza and I walked several laps around several blocks, basically engaging in a real-world Twitter conversation about everything and anything tech.

After that I met up with Simon and Paul from Windows Phone Central and we went to HTC's party. They'd taken over a portion of a bowling alley with pool tables and other amusements, and the HTC team mixed it up there with media, developers, and some general tech enthusiasts. I haven't played analog pool in years, and it showed. (Thanks to @mariela_htc for the picture!)

I've always liked HTC phones, from my Treo Pro to my Nexus One, to the upcoming HTC One they've been consistently turning out great hardware. Samsung hasn't left them much space in the Android market, so they, like Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 face an uphill battle. I hope 2013 is more successful for them than 2012 was. We need more phones like HTC's on the market.

Today I'm driving up to Petaluma to do MacBreak Weekly live with Leo Laporte and the folks at the TWiT brick house, then it's back to Moscone for more GDC, and more press mixers.

But who needs sleep anyway, right?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

GDC 2013 day one


Re: "Glu makes free-to-play games with in-app purchases for consumables"

Can't stand the pay-to-win concept. Have never even bought a Mighty Eagle in Angry Birds, and have 3-starred every level (except the Facebook level, which I avoid completely.)

Re: HTC and "Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 face an uphill battle."

Samsung has completed 2 of the 3 steps in "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish."
(You may remember this strategy from when Microsoft was actually feared.)
Samsung has embraced Android, and extended it with proprietary features.

Third and final step: create a Samsung fork of Android, call it "Galaxy OS." It will instantlly become the de facto standard version of Android due to sheer market share, and it won't be
connected to Google's ecosystem at all. (And we all know how important market share is to the various cut-throat competitors slicing up the Android pie.) Google's Android profits will be all but extinguished.

Time to get more popcorn.

Haven't they already started this with their Tizen 2.0 coming out later this year? I am also with you, on freemiums. I think they are great and have tremendous potential; however, I hate games that force you to pay in order to win. Paying should only speed things up; never should you have to pay in order to beat a level.

So and so needs an AXE and an Axe only to kill this one creature, but you can only get this axe by buying it with real money. I hate games that do this.

I assume the numbers of iOS developers has only risen in the past couple of years, but this year how would you estimate the relative developer presence of iOS, Android (and phone overall) vs "traditional" hand held (PS/Nintendo) devices vs consoles vs PC/mac?

iOS is everywhere. Even in cases where devs are cross-platform, they're typically using iPads to show off the stuff. Now, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and even BlackBerry have booths here, and Apple does not, so first-party iOS is -- as usual -- totally absent.

But in terms of 3rd party developers, there's console and mobile, and iOS looks like the lion's share of mobile.

Android is increasing, however, as anyone watching the market would expect, so we'll see what next year brings. For WIndows Phone and BB10 there are no surprises -- developers are cautious and ramping up efforts as those devices ramp up sales.

I'm not nearly as destroyed from PAX East as I thought I'd be. All of the great games I saw makes me pretty excited to find even more here in San Francisco. This is also my first GDC, so there's also the thrill of the unknown there too. So far so good!

I Can't Wait for Updates of New Games, This is Very Nice! I Like also The HTC because of its Great Camera and High Features........