Gaming Not Just for The Hardcore, Boston’s Talent Pool is Hot, and More Takeaways from MIT Sloan’s Business In Gaming Conference

3/14/11Follow @xconomy

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new devices and platforms will continue, thanks to the introduction of the iPad last year, and the new class of tablet devices expected to roll out on the Android platform and from other makers.

—The method for funding games is evolving as new gaming channels emerge, said David Cappillo, a partner in Goodwin Procter’s corporate and technology companies groups.

Bootstrapping and contracting out was a big favorite among the indie game developers on the panel. Also, the new social and mobile-based games may not get the VC funding the way traditional big gaming titles and studios did.

Many of the game startups focused on mobile and social channels look much more like media companies than technology firms, Grayson said. “Recognize that is different from what a lot of VCs set out to do,” she said. “It’s nothing personal. You could be going to the moon in terms of usage and revenue, but they’ll still be scratching their heads and saying what’s next,” for technology and new game titles.

—Boston is a hot place to do business, thanks to the talent pool coming from area universities. At the one panel I attended at last year’s BIG conference, gaming execs and politicians bemoaned the fact that Massachusetts had tons of gaming talent and promise that it wasn’t boasting enough about. Red Sox veteran pitcher Curt Schilling, who founded a gaming and media company 38 Studios in Maynard, MA, in 2006, even said the state would lose companies and talent if it didn’t kick in tax incentives for the industry. His company did get pulled away to Rhode Island a few months later, thanks to some loan guarantees from the state.

But it looks like gaming startups have still taken notice of the Bay State, even if it’s more on the indie side. “The cross pollination of ideas is remarkable, it makes us more productive,” Lambe said of the Boston scene.

Michel Bastien operates his gaming startup Moonshot Games out of Seattle and Somerville, because his Boston-area developer is “so talented it’s worth the pain” of splitting a small team across coasts. Now, he loves the exposure to two hot gaming markets, he said.

“It started as one of our bigger risks; it’s now really turning into an advantage,” he said.

—Social games have opened up a whole new audience for the industry, but haven’t taken it over yet. The second panel I attended was titled “Level Up. Have Social Games Overtaken Hardcore Games?” Nabeel Hyatt, who’s been head of Zynga Boston since his startup Conduit Labs was acquired by the social gaming giant, had an interesting answer. “I think the assumption with the question is it’s a zero sum game,” he said. Not the case, because … Next Page »

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