“Business in Gaming Industry Means That a Developer Creates a Game to Make Not Only Art But Also Money”

We’ve had a nice talk with the organizer of White Nights about the program of the conference in Moscow. What we got out of it is this hearty longread.

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Image Credit: White Nights Conference

A week ago was revealed the preliminary program of White Nights Moscow 2016 that is to be held on October 11-12 in the congress park of the five-star hotel Radisson Royal. The list of attending companies is yet to be specified, but such giants as CD Projekt RED, King and Playrix will be there for certain.

Julia Lebedeva, Head of Business Development in Nevosoft, gave us a precious piece of insider information – on how the program is comprised, how speakers are selected and what interesting presentations await.

Lebedeva

Julia Lebedeva

“Since the very first conference, our quality standard has been set high. This is why every time our initial draft of the program is kind of “utopian”. Basing on that, we start searching for speakers.
It is obligatory that we have at least one “long-awaited star”, which is a spokesperson of some of the world’s most prominent companies that has not been seen in Russia yet. Or, preferably, is not seen often at all. Every year it’s getting more and more challenging to find them. In times past, White Nights was one of the few conferences where such companies were represented as Supercell, Rovio, King, Warner Bros., Wooga… Once we even had Benoît Sokal, creator of the legendary Syberia. In addition to that, the presence of all basic platforms has been our strong feature from the very beginning. As of now, many organizers deem it a fundamental standard, but it’s not always been so. In fact, I believe it was us who made it a standard for everyone else.

Upon finding speakers, I approach every single one of them personally. They tell me what they would like to present, and I tell them what topic I think would be the most interesting to cover.
White Nights is a conference for business. I already explained earlier that doing business is not like being the annoying Christmas tree from our video. Business in gaming industry means that a developer creates a game to make not only art but also money. Some developers think that if they call themselves “indie” they can ignore the latter aspect. Well, I think that they just can’t make a buck. There is nothing wrong in receiving a financial reward for something that you like to do. Wouldn’t it be great if indie developers who create decent games could earn equally decent money?

Moreover, I am convinced that it doesn’t take a miracle to make it happen. What it does take is visiting presentations, like those that we organize at White Nights. We don’t give lessons on how to create a game; we gather representatives of various platforms, publishers, and successful developers in one place, and they have a good time sharing an experience with each other. I personally think that presentations at conferences are not for teaching and studying; they are for learning about the market itself firsthand from people who are directly involved in all these processes.

For instance, we will be having in Moscow Bob Slinn, Head of Gaming Partnerships at Facebook. This man is engaged in the development of the company’s general strategy and sure can tell you something about what kinds of games you should or shouldn’t make in the near future. At the conference, he will speak about the partnership of Facebook and Unity. By the way, David Helgason, founder of Unity Technologies, will also be there. I am very excited to listen to the person who 12 years ago predicted the current state of the market and fulfilled his own prophecy.

Other platforms will also show opportunities for gamedevs: VK.com, G2A.com, Google, Amazon, and, of course, the company that holds regular presentations at our conferences by appointment.

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Traditionally, there will be a technical performance from Unity and also 90 minutes of VR workshop practice from Unreal Engine. Those are for curious souls, while the focus of the conference remains on opportunities for developers to score high in all possible charts.

To these ends, it is crucial to attend the presentation of Tatyana Evdokimenko of Playrix, a company that has released three hits in a row and is now acknowledged as one of the leaders of the gaming industry. By the way, Dmitri and Igor, the Bukhman brothers, have been at almost all White Nights events, including the very first one. This conference is also the first to feature Playrix as our platinum sponsor!

Oleg Pridiuk, a well-known technology evangelist, has promised to tell a lot of interesting stuff about work in King. I was amazed to know that the company board regularly comprises an information sheet on projects in development and emails it to all teams, encouraging competition among them. Projects are measured by both traditional parameters, like RAM and CPU requirements, and by such traffic defining parameters as loading time on older phone models or rate of battery consumption.

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We have also planned presentations for a number of other developers and publishers: Game Insight, Pixonic, Creative Mobile, 101XP, and more are yet to be announced. The flagship of our program is Matthew Steinke, lead technical designer for Witcher; it will be his first presentation in Russia. Matthew has worked in the gaming industry for 16 years and applied his talents in such projects as Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell, Mortal Kombat, Stranglehold, and PsiOps:The Mindgate Conspiracy. He will share the experience of CD Projekt RED creating The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

It should be noted that there are no selling “marketing reports” in the program, so to those anxious about that, I tell – worry not. There will be a presentation from Unity Ads which I would recommend to everyone interested in high eCPM for games monetized through advertising. Earlier, at the round table in Saint-Petersburg, we also spoke well of Appodeal.

We have programmed four roundtable discussions: with humble developers Leonid Sirotin and Sergey Babayev; on games for children; on HTML5, and one for human resources issues, specifically on how to find, retain and fire employees in the gaming industry.

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As for game promotion, we have some great content at stake. Of special note is the traditional workshop with Oksana Afonina on promotion on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. If you haven’t attended any of those, I insist that you do.

Alexandra Pestretsova is the guru of promotion; she has been in the lead of marketing departments in such companies as Game Insight and Mail.Ru Group. She will speak about how to work with YouTube bloggers. By the way, a newly founded company PlayClips has come up with a unique marketing decision: they work with YouTube bloggers who bring players to the game and interact with them online! The traffic is tracked, and their reward is based on revenue share business model.

A distinct flavor to the conference will be added by Deconstruction Workshop. The new form of analyzing games with experts in real time was everyone’s favorite in Saint-Petersburg, so we are going to do it again.

From everything above, we can conclude that programmers will unlikely find our conference interesting. Only if some of them would like to be the first in Russia to receive certificates from Unity, but hush! – these are just rumors so far.

White Nights is a conference for owners of gaming companies, CEOs, and COOs, VPs from various spheres, business development professionals, producers, marketing experts and game designers. All these people will bathe in the sea of useful information, and that not counting networking. It depends on you what information you can perceive, process and make work. I hope that everyone will be as efficient as I picture it every time I begin comprising a new program”.

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