Casual Connect has returned to Singapore this year and, is supposedly, bigger and better on many fronts. After all, this is the first time, in its many years on the island state, that Casual Connect Asia (CCA) left its usual stomping grounds – Shangri-la Singapore – for a more far out venue, Resorts World Sentosa.
This year, just about everything CCA is known for – from the Indie Games marketplace to the keynotes and breakout sessions as well as the multiple meeting sessions it will facilitate – has stepped up to fit in with the larger floorspace and equally as impressive line-up of speakers. In some ways, what this year’s CCA is doing in line with the explosive growth that the videogames industry is experiencing. Well, specifically, the indie and mobile aspects of this industry are the ones undergoing massive growths and seeing major uptrends in terms of adoption, outreach, and influence.
Since the proximity of CCA being so close, there is no way Malaysia would not get invovled. Admittedly, while participation from the indie gaming side front has declined, that isn’t – thankfully – the case for the quality of the games that are being showcased at this event. As to be expected, the level of support from Malaysia, specifically from the primary government regulator – Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); private platforms that now call Malaysia their home, such as GameFounders; and select members from organisations that are related to the game sector or are involved with educational institutions have come in droves.
While the locations is also literally far out since it is nowhere near downtown Singapore or the CBD area, it ensures all attendees are fully focused with the task at hand – share and expand on the discourse of videogames, figure out what works for their current and upcoming ideas, look up for new industry trends, and see what works for their respective focuses.
Having a bigger marketplace – a grand total of 96 games are featured – and a higher headcount, CCA 2016 has indeed set the pace for attendees to keep the discussion and active industry enablement on-going. Key discussions that have taken place and are set to take place include having proactive talks with platform providers like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Kongregate; engaging current and oncoming trends that will drive this core aspect of the videogames industry along with mobility; and enabling active discussion among like-minded creators and fellow gaming fans.
Even those from the Malaysian contingent – specifically MDEC and GameFounders – managed to reach out to familiar faces that are attending CCA 2016 and have consistently re-affirmed their continuous support for the indie game development scene as the key top executives from both organisations are in attendance to shore up support for CCA and keep conversations active for all parties involved.
As much as it’s cool to mention renowned game developers who are attending CCA 2016, their presence and what they bring to the table for this event are the bigger draw. This includes industry insights, results of surveys that they have respectively carried out, openly sharing views during panel discussions, and being fixated – positively – with all the fast-growth and in-depth trends that are expanding the videogames industry as a whole right now.
Hot topics that have been the talk of CCA 2016 include what to expect when deploying into app stores on both Apple and Google Play platforms; understand how the proliferation of mobility and smart devices are just part of the growth process; advance lessons in pitching; figure out ways to better engage and capitalise on delivery platforms from the likes of Google and Amazon; figure out the best way to break into growth markets like Southeast Asia, India, and China; discuss and consider if eSports is a viable platform for indie gaming to leverage on; predict future trends in mobility for gaming; consider key questions for the viability of engaging virtual reality in the mobile space; look into real-time audience engagement; and look into potential global market prospects.
Of course, the biggest highlight for CCA 2016 is the Indie Gamer Showcase where independent game developers from Southeast Asia, Asia, and the neighbouring regions come together to show off their finished products, playable concepts, and Alpha Tests. The purpose for this aspect of CCA is to allow industry peers, as well as those from closely related industries – like advertising and content aggregation, to comment and critique of their respective works as well as ponder together over what would make these pre-made builds offer better gameplay and user experiences.
Personally, the videogames being showcased on the show-floor are, more or less, an impressive mix of polished works. As is, they are ready for immediate market deployment or can be configured for a proper pre-release Beta tryout. Most, if not all, are mobile based or have ties to mobile operating systems and have been enriched with enough optimisation that they don’t crash midway and give players enough reason to pour hate on them.
While there are personal favourites among the participants, a proper list will be drawn up for better referencing at a later date.
Beyond needing to be in the best shape for the CCA showcase, these games are also in the running for the prestigious India Prize Awards that is always held in conjunction with this major indie gaming conference. That alone is a key motivator for the games to be in top form since they cannot be judged well if they are peppered with bugs or are prone to crashing.
Winners for this showcase will be revealed tomorrow during the pre-closing process of CCA 2016. Malaysia has taken home glory before though and while most expect one, or two, of the handful that are at the premier indie videogames conference to retain the crown for the country, they have pretty stiff competition to deal with this time round. If anything, these few from Malaysia and their respective counterparts from all over the world have brought over their very best to this event. Thus, it is only fitting that the most outstanding one of the entire lot receives its rightful accolades.
Those keen on finding out the new trends and industry insights about the indie videogame development sector, do check back often as Team Amanz.net brings on the most significant and poignant points that have been discussed at CCA 2016.