Gamesight Podcast Ep #6 - We 💙 GDC
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Missed out on the Games Developers Conference (GDC) 2023? Don't worry, we've got you covered. In this episode, join us as we chat with CEO Adam Lieb on all the hottest topics that everyone was talking about at the conference. From game-changing AI to the latest developments in mobile gaming and the sustainability of free-to-play models, we've got all the inside scoop. Plus, our guest shares their personal experiences of networking and meeting all different types of people in the industry.
So, Welcome back. We're settling in again after a hectic week. I have here with me Adam Lieb, CEO of Gamesight. How are you doing?
I'm doing well. How are you?
I'm doing great. Thanks for asking. I've been just working.
Yeah, just another Wednesday. Make sure to catch Adam Lieb speaking at NFT.NYC April 12th to 14th. Yeah. Actually, do you know what day you're speaking?
Okay. April 13th. Yeah. Make sure to catch him talking, but yeah. Are you excited?
I am, I love going to New York. I love the city of New York and I love that. My job allows me to have an excuse to go to those places and see people that I love in those cities.
So I love that I can do that regardless of, you know, who's also coming into town for events, which is also cool to see people that will be attracted to those events.
But, I went last year. This year of course I am [00:01:00] doing a talk and excited about that and excited for hopefully some feedback and discussions.
I, you know, I think it's one of the, it's an interesting talk from my perspective because I'm, you know, supposed to be standing up there talking about, as an expert about, you know, how you can grow Web3 game. The answer is like, I don't know. No one knows. And I think that's, you know, I, I, I have some input of some of the things you basically shouldn't do and some of the things that like could work, but, but we're so far at such a new space there.
There is no keys to the kingdom and some template that I can give everyone that will make them a lot of money. And I don't know if that's what people want or expect, but that's obviously not what they're gonna get cause it doesn't exist. So yeah, it'll be an interesting one.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Very interesting discussion there. And maybe we don't have the keys yet, but we definitely have a lot of good examples to go over.
So, GDC week just finished. How was it for you? I know a lot of people in our team went.
Yeah. Yeah. We think we had eight, eight people there, which was, a [00:02:00] lot. I'm not really sure who approved that expense report. I don't think it was me. But yeah, we had, we had a ton of people there. I love GDC. I mean, there's, there's definitely all sorts of like, you know, native things that people have to say about it.
I think it's a great event. I think it brings, it's like probably the only event that I can think of that really kind of brings people from almost every part of the industry together. Both, you know, types of games, mobile and PC, console, and obviously now like crypto, a lot of people, those people there.
You get developers, you get marketers, you get producers. Like you sort of get everyone. And I think that's just really cool that they can all come together in the same place and that I can go back and forth between different types of meetings with vastly different types of people. And you just don't get that almost any other trade show, every other type of show is has enough of a focus that you, you can get the same people, which can be fun too.
But I think that the size, I, you know, I don't know, GDC had like 24,000 people or something. [00:03:00] I think I saw don't quote me on that, but it was a big, big number, top types of people. Love, love that. And I love San Francisco. It certainly has its problems and things that people don't like, but I like to go there and, you know, travel around a little bit.
So, yeah, I enjoyed it. I had a good trip and tired when I was done, but good trip overall.
In a good way. Tired in a good way.
Yeah. Tired in a tired way.
For sure. I know that E3 this year -- there's a lot of companies that aren't going to be doing their big pitches at like E3 this year. So GDC is sort of like the big one now, right? Or was it always like the big one? I'm kind of new to this, so
You know, it's, they're, they're really different. It's funny cause both of them are like, old shows that have been around for a long time and I think where they started and where they are is really different. E3 was, was really built to be like the show where companies announced [00:04:00] games that to try to get like Best Buy and GameStop to like physically buy them and stock them in their stores.
So it was built to kind of sell those companies where, you know, GDC is meant to be more of an internal industry event about like knowledge sharing and education. You know, GDC is full of, I don't know the number, but like, I dunno, hundreds at least I think, you know, low hundreds of, of different talks and sessions about.
Every aspect of game development and games marketing and all of that. So it's, it's a really, you should leave GDC being, being smarter, I think, if you're doing it well. And E3 is not about that. And E3 is about selling games.
It's become a little bit different thing now that, you know, Best Buy and GameStop maybe aren't the most relevant to the industry.
It's become more of a place you go to announce a new game or announce really anything. But yeah, I don't know what's going on with E3 this year. It's definitely, you know, none of the big three, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo will be there. A lot of the major studios have already sort of announced that they're, they're not gonna be there.
So I don't [00:05:00] know what it'll be like this year or if it'll happen at all. I'm not sure.
Yeah. So GDC is like the big one, would you
It depends. Depends what for, right? I mean, people don't announce games at GDC so if, you know, if you went to GDC to like, you know, learn about the next big game that's launching next year, like you probably didn't have that happen. So it's, I think they're pretty different. I don't know that I'd even necessarily like kind of compare them other than they're both, you know, both games industry relevant.
I did end up seeing a lot of discourse around how GDC isn't very affordable, but it is almost sort of like a required event if you wanna be serious in the industry. Right. And if you wanna network and stuff like that.
Yeah. I think that they're. I don't know about required. I think for some people probably feel, feels required. I mean, in a lot of ways I wish it weren't in San Francisco because of that. San Francisco is an extremely expensive city to get to, extremely expensive city to stay in. I mean, the, the sort of like, tourist tax and things are super high.
Basically everything's like twice as expensive as it, you know, you think a [00:06:00] hotel room is $300 and then you're like, oh, but the San Francisco City tax and California tax, and all of a sudden it's a $600 hotel room. So yeah, I definitely think that it is a, it is not the most accessible show, and I'm sure it would be
--there are a lot of things that would make it. Better. If it were more accessible, I think you'd get more people from different backgrounds and different locations. Obviously I live in Seattle, it's an hour and a half flight for me, so that's not all that hard to, to do. It's hard for a lot of other people to do.
As much as that my opinion matters, I think it would be great to be somewhere else. You know, I don't know if that'll happen or if it's even possible. For all I know, they signed a 20 year deal with Moscone to have it in San Francisco, so that, that's conceivable, but yeah. I wish, I wish it were more accessible.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. I know that. A lot of people who went on our team like they didn't even go into the venue, into the event itself. Right. But you were able to like, talk with people outside and have meetings and network outside of the venue anyway, so--
Well, there's, it's not a bunch of venues, it's kind of [00:07:00] complicated set up because the Moscone is just like a multi-building convention center and there's a bunch of the buildings and a bunch of the rooms are talks and lectures and things. And we didn't do one this year. I think we did one last year.
I think Emily gave, gave a talk about how to activate influencers for your game or something like that. And so that was part of it. And it was also like an exposition show floor thing which I'm sure some people on the team team went too. And that, that's more where you get companies that kinda like selling things. Game developers like, I don't
They have their booths up and stuff.
Or Unreal, like, you know, companies that sell software games, games companies, they'll have booths in kind of traditional trade show. But that's, that's sort of like one aspect of it.
. So is there anything super crazy that happened at GDC? What's the, what's the tea?
I dunno. I'm sure there's lots of stuff that I don't, I'm not in the loops that know about the tea, I don't know. I'm boring. I don't know. I take [00:08:00] like, you know, business meetings, you know, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM and then I'd go home and go to bed. Other than one, I dunno.
I think it was out to like 2 one night, so I think I had one late night, but it
Yeah, crazy. I went with a buddy. We went to Chinatown and stayed, found the only place, like legit, the only place in Chinatown that was open, like post 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock or something.
And we were there and that place was bumping as you could expect. So we hung out there that was my wild and crazy nights. Yeah. No, no. Again, sure there's tea. I don't know. I don't, no one tells me about that stuff.
what about the tea we're here to hear about, like mobile gaming user generated content.
I mean, like in a lot of ways, I think GDC and like almost any of these things is like, ends up being like a IRL like LinkedIn, where it's like what stuff people are posting on LinkedIn people are talking about there. So it's like, I don't know, I could have told you before the conference probably the like 10 conversations that you'd consistently [00:09:00] hear or have like, you know, what about generative AI?
Is it gonna replace your job? Is it gonna replace my job? Is it gonna replace game development as a whole? Like, you know, that. A conversation you was gonna have, like, you know, is Web3 dead? Is it gonna have a rebirth? Is it like, not web, it should be called Web4. Like, I mean I, there's like,
Well, what I mean, I dunno about that specific conversation happening bunch, but I think the general, I could say like the, the net of what you see on LinkedIn is I think where a lot of those like conversations just happening in real life rather than on commented threads.
It's always a little bit, I would say, ahead of what's actually happening. Like a lot of people, anything, you talk about a lot of stuff that's not happening yet, that's not out yet that, that people are starting to work on or are working on. So you get some of that kind of stuff that isn't maybe isn't LinkedIn ready because it's still behind the scenes? I, I don't know. I'm sort of not again, every year it is some version of what. [00:10:00] What's going on in LinkedIn? That would be my assessment. I don't know if people could tell me I'm wrong, but I think that's pretty much what I see in here. So Yane you could tell me what are people talking about on LinkedIn?
And I tell you, I'll probably tell you those are things that people are talking about at GDC. Personally, the thing I love about GDC is, like I said, people come from everywhere and it's a good chance.
Which is a good chance to see people in real life that, you know, sometimes, I mean, I met one of our coworkers who's worked at Gamesight for over a year. I've never met him IRL. So like that was great. Met a bunch of customers who, you know, we've gone from introduction to maybe we've worked with them for a year and I've like, you know, never meeting them, IRL.
So being able to, to do that is, is super awesome, because you get people who, as expensive as it is, like do fly over from all over the world or from wherever they are to, to come to GDC. So, you know, for me it's, it's more about trying to have those like real conversations with real people in real life. And GDC is a great [00:11:00] opportunity to do that.
I think that the net average of my conversations was probably more pessimistic than what you'd see on LinkedIn. I think you get a lot more. like, yeah, we tried it on this project and it had sucked or didn't work. Or like, yeah, maybe in 10 years, but not today. And I think on LinkedIn you get more like next year that there'll be a billion dollar game franchise solely built by robot.
And it's like, you know, people post up on LinkedIn for comments, but that was probably not the, what people were talking about at GDC.
For sure. I mean, I would say that's almost like refreshing compared to LinkedIn, right? It's not just about like optics, but people are trying to have like genuine conversations with each other as people in the industry, right? Sounds kind of nice.
Yeah, I'm sure there's some of that. And you overhear it, you know, so many conversations. You know, you're in a hotel lobby and you can hear people two seats over from you that like Chat GPT this and you know, Da Vinci that or whatever. So you do, you do hear a little bit of that and [00:12:00] like kind of get that vibe.
I mean, last year it was like mostly crypto stuff where,
You know, there was a lot of conversation about that. A lot less this year for sure. So yeah, I mean there's always the kind of what's hot, and I think that's also like most GDC conversations start with like, oh, I'm so tired I had to walk here from so-and-so place.
Or like, I'm on meeting number seven today and I'm so tired.
Chat GPT is probably another one of those kind of ice breaker things. I mean, the, maybe the, the next trendiest type thing I probably heard the most discussion about was just like free to play games.
Those are like major free to play games that have been shut down in the last six months. Big games, big budgets and like more questions around like sustainability of free to play. Thinking like, you know, sort of PC console, like HD games and what other business models people should be pursuing.
There's definitely lots of conversation about the various game pass type things. Just I know when, how much that folks should be thinking about [00:13:00] that as a viable path to game distribution. I heard a lot about like, oh, we were building a game and we, you know, we were building it to be free to play, but now we're really thinking that like we need to probably do a premium skew or something like that because we're, we're concerned about the, like, massive risk of launching a, a big budget free to play.
Which is no doubt the case.
And I think some of the shutdowns recently have scared people.
Mm-hmm. Interesting. So I mean, I, I think that's also sort of reflective of the overall like health of the gaming industry, I guess. Are people feeling like the game industry is doing well, like it's growing or is it a lot of people like sort of adapting to, like slowing growth and stuff like that?
I mean, I don't know. Everyone's in the industry, so no one has like a unbiased opinion of, of it. Everyone, I would hope that is working at a company that relies
believes in the gaming industry
on that thing existing and working and being successful. So I don't know that that's the right cohort for, for anything like that.
I mean, [00:14:00] I don't know if the games industry is like generally healthy, but yeah. Some things are doing better than others. And so yeah, there's naturally gonna be a tendency to like push towards the things that, that are doing better. Like for sure, a trend would be like, we definitely see so many mobile game companies that are watching titles on PC or console, either ports or net new games or cross-platform cross play.
That is not a new trend, but it's definitely happening more full force. I think I have multiple major mobile publishers I talked to at GDC who are not really thinking about launching games that don't have a cross platform component anymore. They think that it's just, you know, games that games should be playable and accessible on non-mobile devices.
I dunno, three years ago, and I wouldn't say that was a thing many people talked about. And, and that's happening now. So yeah, I think, I think that, you know, IDFA deprecation on mobile is definitely scary for some folks. So looking at expansion in tertiary markets or secondary markets maybe [00:15:00] makes a lot of sense for folks.
I'm sure it's a very tired topic for you-- do you, do you think AI will take our jobs?
From what I've used and what I've seen, that AI today, plus, I don't know, some amount of time in the future, is pretty good at doing things that like, I would say relatively inexperienced to junior people can do and a lot of different things both.
Code and SQL query writing as well as like marketing copy or sales generation. Like yeah, it can do a pretty serviceable job of a lot of those things. Like I think you've used it yourself, right? Like, you know, write me a tweet about so-and-so game and like make it controversial so people will like click it or like it a retweet it,
give 10 tweets, gimme 10 of those tweets.
Like, I don't know, it can do a pretty decent job. And you know, a few of those 10 tweets will probably be roughly the same quality as like a junior social [00:16:00] media marketing person.
We're, I think we're really far away from being at the as good as like an expert master social media marketing person who's gonna craft the perfect tweet.
It's not gonna do that. It's gonna do the junior version of that. And so, yeah, and as much as there are roles and jobs that, that pieces of those can be, replaced by like a fairly junior, inexperienced person. Like I think that some of those things will, will happen sooner than later. But the, like, I dunno, hard stuff.
I think it's just further, further away from I don't know, the game stuff, like games people seem way more out on it for a variety of reasons. I think there are massive legal issues that no one's really quite figured out yet. You know, if I say, Hey, give me a tree to put in my game and the data set of tree images they're using includes trees from Fortnite.
Let's imagine now. And I use that in my game. Well now I've stolen a tree from Fortnite and put it in my game. I dunno. I did it, I didn't do it on purpose, but the AI told me that was the [00:17:00] tree. That was a good looking for my game. Well, that's a huge problem. I don't think you wanna be stealing trees from Fortnite or, you know, whoever.
So it, that is a massive problem that hasn't been, you know, particularly solved yet. You know, there's all, all sorts of issues with like, y'know, synthetic voice and like, you know, Actors Guilds and things like that. I'm not, wouldn't profess to be an expert on any of that. I think for our use cases at Gamesight, we have a couple things that, that are in development that we'll use Chat GPT for like potentially a thing you can use in the product to ask for cool stuff.
We're messing around with it, but I dunno, the existential, will AI take all of our jobs? I dunno, maybe.
Yeah. Not today. So
Yeah. That's cool to hear. I did get to hear a little bit from Robert about how Gamesight trying to use Chat GPT, but
Yeah. Okay. Well that, that was sort of what I was referencing. I didn't know what, what Robert has shared [00:18:00] or not.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. But we'll keep it on the down low until it's like official, but very, very cool stuff in the works.
Did you get to talk to people about like, influencer campaigns? Does everybody sort of like, at this point on the same page about like the role of like Twitch and the role of like the streamer economy and stuff like that in marketing games?
You know, it's funny, it's kind of like watching your kids grow where like I don't ever wake up one morning, they're like, man, you got taller today. Cause like that's not how getting taller works. Right. You know, you get taller like a microscopic inch by day. And I think that is kind of what's happened with like maybe the role of influencers in video games marketing where like I feel like five years ago at GDC I probably was talking with people about how it's important and how it should be a part of your camp-- you know, your marketing mix. When you're thinking about launching a game, you should have an influencer strategy and like, I don't know, some percent of companies were like, oh, of course, [00:19:00] and great. Some percent were like, yeah, we're not really sure.
Like we think people will probably stream our game and that's fine. We don't have a, you know, influencer team. We don't really have anyone that thinks about influencers and like, you know, we're not really sure about it to today where like, I don't know that there's any company and obvious selection bias, but I don't know if there's any company that we talk to who is like, yeah, influencers aren't relevant to launching our game, and like again, like five years ago that was not 0% and now it's like 0%.
So for sure exactly how the role is different and how important that is. And it's also different by game. Like, I mean, I think if you're getting ready to launch a a free to play action based battle royal game.
Content creators is probably the number one thing you're thinking about. I don't know if you're making a premium 20 hour narrative driven experience, like maybe it isn't the most important thing should still be relevant, but probably not the most important thing to think about.
So [00:20:00] yeah, I think that the industry's matured a lot in that respect. Outside of gaming, I don't know. So more general folks, hard for me to say. Influencer marketing, creator marketing has definitely become part of every company's game plan to some extent.
Interesting. I like seeing that change. Are there like other sort of changes and shifts like that since five years ago?
Yeah, I mean, there's, I'm sure there's a million things. A newer one would be like TikTok probably, where TikTok now is not quite there yet. TikTok is not where influencers are, at least in the sense of like, not every game has a TikTok.
More games have a TikTok strategy this year. They did last year and a lot more do this year than they did two years ago. So like it's, it is increasing. And right now, like, you know, we'll put government bans and like the political stuff aside, we'll just assume that like TikTok exists in five years. It is, it does seem to be on the trajectory of like, hard for me to imagine any game five years from now, doesn't have a TikTok strategy, doesn't have a person that thinks about, cares about, is knowledgeable about TikTok and how their game [00:21:00] ought to exist or be, be present on TikTok. We're somewhere in the adoption curve on TikTok. That's probably like, you know, I don't know exactly where it is. You know, half, maybe 50% of games are like thinking about TikTok. The other 50% like aren't yet, and you know, in five years it'll be a hundred percent, but how quickly does the other 50% adopt?
Those are made up numbers. I don't know if I'm right.
Yeah. Just based on vibes. So for like going to GDC and networking , I was wondering if from the perspective of someone who's like never been to these events before or like me, right. I'm new to the gaming industry, I wonder if you have any like, advice or like pro tips that you'd recommend, going into this kind of space or industry.
Yeah, I think it, it definitely depends what you're, you know, trying to get out of it. I would say of, of the events that I'm aware of, I think GDC is one that's probably a little more [00:22:00] closed to like purely open networking. Like so much of GDC is like scheduled meeting based, and not that you can't hang out in hotel bars and bump into people and try to make friends.
You could, but if you look at my calendar for, for GDC, obviously I'm just one person, but if you look at my calendar for GDC it's virtually back-to-back meetings from, you know, sunrise to sunset. That doesn't create a lot of opportunities to meet people that I didn't intend to meet. And I think so many folks like myself you get all the, the GDC meeting requests and you have some on your own that you send out and, and you kind of book that time to see specific people.
It's harder to meet new people. When I was getting, you know, started in the industry. I, I spent a lot of my time for meeting things trying to convince people to, it's worth their time to meet with me when we went. And I would say that would probably be my advice is like, if it's something that, you know, you want to increase your network and you wanna meet people, I would do the homework in advance and spend the month before [00:23:00] GDC trying to get ahold of people you wanna meet with for whatever the like kind of relevant thing is for you.
And then set those things up. I probably wouldn't recommend going to GDC without a bunch of meetings and just hope that I've serendipitously met people. I'm not saying that it's impossible, and like for sure there are mixers and for sure there's networking events and like those things do all exist and I've not been to 'em, so I can't like speak to their effectiveness.
My advice would be do the homework in advance, figure out who you wanna with,
Strategic with your time.
convince people that it's worth their time to meet with you. And then, show up with a calendar, an agenda and yeah, you'll still meet other people while you're there. I mean, I probably met, I don't know, half a dozen or so, maybe more, new people through, you know, I went to a meeting and the prior meeting was with someone else like, oh, you should meet so-and-so before we started our meeting.
So like, and there stuff happens. But yeah, I would do my homework in advance.
It's nice to see people from like all over the country, like even [00:24:00] international guests and stuff. Right. So I'm wondering if there's a lot of diverse perspectives when you meet people from outside of like, you know, just Seattle or the West Coast or even the US.
Yeah, I mean I think that that is something that is now with like the remote world we live in is less of a big deal than it probably was. Like, There was probably a time where it was like, wow, I, you know, I don't really get to talk to people from Sweden very often, and like I'm at GDC and I met, you know, two companies from Sweden.
It's like, well now, like I would just talk to those companies from Sweden any day. So there's nothing special about in, in person. I think you know, the world is so much more global and our business is certainly more global and,
you know, the people that you meet with are all over the world on Zoom or Meets or whatever.
Anyway, so I don't know that that was a unique aspect of GDC in the way that maybe it was before we were all so comfortable doing virtual meetings with people where we look at each other's faces on the phone.
Yeah, we have international business meetings all the time.
Yeah. I mean, there [00:25:00] was a time when I'm sure that was, that was not like, I mean, really, it's kind of a crazy thing, but like before Covid, like, it wasn't that normal to be like, Hey, nice to meet you. Let's set up a Google Hangout or Zoom or whatever.
Have an introductory call. Not that that never happened, but I don't think that was, that was not really like the normal business practice where now that is just like the most common thing in the world.
Everyone does it all the time.
Mm-hmm. . That, that, that is an interesting shift. I guess that is like super normalized now. Never really realized.
It is an odd shift that, you know, the whole world went through it.
So I guess it's not like a thing we talk about as much cause like literally it happened to everyone.
True. You used to have to buy like the 480p webcam right? Good times.
Yeah. I'm wondering if for GDC, maybe there's like things you would wanna see in the future or maybe like missed opportunities that you felt could be like, improved on?
I don't know that they want or need my consulting, but I do think that there would be, would be probably net better for the industry to not be in San Francisco and to be in a, [00:26:00] a place that is more financially accessible. You know, I'm not an event planner, so you know, what do I know?
But I go to lots of conferences in Las Vegas and like, you know, my hotel rooms in Las Vegas for like even big shows like CES are a fifth or fourth or something of what I paid for my GDC hotel rooms. So yeah, that, that makes it a lot more accessible for a lot of people. But you know, San Francisco also has big international airports.
And so I think that kind of, at least within an hour or so, so like that kind of helps too. So, I don't know, accessibility for sure would be, would be great. Getting more, more people out there. I think the show, well, as big as it is, I don't think it would hurt to be bigger. So I, I would like that, but I don't know, maybe beyond that it's most of what the show is, is like what people make of it.
And, and that's you know, it's not something that the show kind of controls, right? That's just what people, the culture and the community have kind of come up with.
Mm-hmm. How would you describe like the culture and the community [00:27:00] of GDC?
I think it's so big. There's a million, like, I think that's part of what, what you kind of described at the beginning. Part of what I, love about GDC is that it is so, it is so big that there are all sorts of micro communities. It's like, you know, it's the games industry, so it's not a monolith, games industry isn't one thing. Right. There's definitely hotels I'll go to. I'll be like, oh, this is like where it looks like a lot of the mobile people hang out and then like, oh, this is where the people who work either work at Microsoft or used to work at Microsoft, like this is where they hang out and like, here's where, you know, all the crypto people are at this bar or whatever. Like, I, I, it's not quite that clean, but there is a, there is an element of that, that the industry is so big and there's so many different sub groups depending on which event you go to or which party or which mixer or whatever, you, you kind of get that, those different microcosms and like, I love that. And I think, you know, our company touches multiple groups there. So being able to, to kind of see those different groups in all together is really cool.
That kind of reminds me of like, it is kind of giving like Mean [00:28:00] Girls when they're like talking about each of the different cliques at all the different tables.
Yeah, I'm sure you could do a really funny you know, sketch about that. I'm sure, I'm sure that is true. Yeah. You know, meme-ing the mobile games folks, and the, you know, in the indie game, indie steam game folks there are all of those different subgroups and I'm sure they have their own stereotypical way they dress and what bars they go to and what parties they have.
I'm sure you could do something, I don't know how popular that would make you, but I'm sure you could do something like that.
It's like a pretty good overview of GDC, I would say. But, Yeah. okay. Yeah. But last thing I definitely wanted to