50 things I never need to hear at another conference

  1. Korea is the future. They are five years ahead of us and where Korea goes, the rest of the world will follow.  (I have been hearing this for at least five years. )
  2. Free to play with micro transactions is the one true business model.
  3. Client downloads are death.
  4. We must look beyond the core gamer audience and embrace more casual players.
  5. Women are 50% of the audience.
  6. Don’t trust the client, it is in the hands of the enemy.
  7. You game is a service.
  8. MMOs are hard. No, they’re really really hard. Seriously. You can’t possibly imagine how hard they are.
  9. Runescape is the second biggest MMO and is the one you should really watch.
  10. Club Penguin is huge and is the one you should really watch.
  11. Lineage is huge in Asia and is the one you should really watch. (These days it’s actually more likely to be ZT Online or some other game in China.)
  12. Flash is the best platform to build your MMO on.
  13. Web games are cheesy and no core gamer will ever play them.
  14. Rudy’s has the best BBQ in Austin.  No, County Line is better.  Are you kidding me?  It’s obviously The Salt Lick.
  15. The game industry is bigger than Hollywood.
  16. Triple-A MMOs are a dead end. WoW is impossible to compete with.
  17. Game X is going to take the top spot from WoW.
  18. Games cost so much to make now that the industry is about to collapse under its own weight.
  19. MMOs are just like MUDs and you should all learn the lessons MUDs learned X years ago.  (To be fair, I don’t think I’ve actually heard this one in a few years.)
  20. All of these things happened in UO. Why won’t you people learn from UO?
  21. The community around your game is incredibly important and you should take care of them.
  22. Your players have no idea what they want. Don’t believe anything they say.
  23. Forums are very important.
  24. Don’t believe anything you read on forums.
  25. Launch is just the beginning. The real work comes after launch.
  26. Metrics, metrics, metrics.  Record everything!
  27. Don’t record too much with your metrics. Too much data is just as useless as too little data.
  28. Some people spend CRAZY amounts of money via micro-transactions
  29. MMOs on consoles are the Next Big Thing.
  30. Casual games are going to save the PC market
  31. MMOs are going to save the PC market
  32. My background in economics tells me…
  33. WoW is a wonderful thing for the industry because of the way they expanded the market.
  34. WoW has set expectations so high that you can’t make an MMO for less than X million dollars. (Where X>=30)
  35. Person X is a jerk. Let me tell you this funny story about…
  36. Company Y is so clueless that they will never put out a successful game
  37. Fantasy is where it’s at! MMOs just don’t work as well in other genres.
  38. Fantasy has been done. Players want us to move on to other genres.
  39. There’s so much money to be made in Asia! Just make sure you internationalize your game first.
  40. Gamers in Asia demand click to move so they can smoke while they play.
  41. Players are going to trade stuff for real money no matter what you do. You might as well embrace it.
  42. RMT causes huge amounts of fraud.
  43. Gold spam is impossible to stop.
  44. Our startup is the next big thing in MMOs.  Just look at this giant pile of money we raised!
  45. Game development is all about iteration. Waterfall doesn’t work.
  46. There’s this guy named Richard Bartle who proposed dividing players into four types…
  47. You can’t use scripting languages in games. They’re way too slow.
  48. Writing all your code in C++ is stupid.
  49. Launch early, launch often.
  50. You only get to launch once.
This year it was obvious to me that I’ve hit the Austin GDC level cap. Fortunately that means I have moved on to the conference elder game and learn far more interesting things speaking and engaging in deep hallway conversations.
What about you?  What things are you sick of hearing in conference presentations?


25 Responses to “50 things I never need to hear at another conference”

  1. Scott Hartsman said on :


    Yeah, I think you’ve outlevelled the content. :)

    While we’re picking on ourselves, there have to be another dozen or two related to Social Gaming MMOs and/or Facebook that could find a home here.

  2. Linda Carlson thought on :

    Hahahhahahahahahahhha. You are so very right. I did actually enjoy some of the sessions this year, but I caught myself rolling my eyes more than a few times.

    Note to self: if I ever do a presentation when Joe is around, must make sure he is distracted with something else…
    ;-) #

  3. Raph said on :

    Great list! And of course, at least half of them are absolutely true. It’s just which half… ;) And I say this having often said the matching pair…!

  4. Matt Mihaly said on :

    Hilarious list, Joe!

  5. Matthew Weigel replied on :

    The sad thing is, there SHOULD be new content in the presentations and booths as time goes on. There should be, but…

  6. Carrla Leszycnski replied on :

    Loved this! I haven’t even been to GDC in two years and this is the same stuff they were saying back then.

    Funniest part of the list is the contradictions that are so pervasive.

  7. Ben commented on :

    Hah, this list sort of justifies my decision to skip Austin :)

  8. Franklin Nacobo Krause commented on :

    Great list Joe.

    I’ve never been to a dev conference but I’ve heard most of these things tossed around casually among industry people all of the time.

    Number 4 and 12 make me die on the inside a little bit.

  9. Brian 'Psychochild' Green wrote on :

    I think one can sum up 90% of your list as, “Global pronouncements about how everyone should do X.” People tend to act like they’re the wise man on the mountain, handing down a pronouncement about how things should be.

    Some of the time this is done for business reasons. “You need $N million to compete!” is usually said by someone who just landed $N million in funding. Or, someone who works at a large company where $N million is an accounting rounding error. “You can’t compete with WoW!” is often said by people who didn’t land that big investment but are trying to manage an investor’s expectations. Etc, etc, etc.

    Anyway, surprised it took you this long to run out of content. You’re a smart, very experienced guy! Too much partying? ;)

  10. Joe wrote on :

    It didn’t take me this long to run out of content, so much as this long to get disappointed that there wasn’t anything new. :)

  11. simonc commented on :

    I think this is one of the most subtle trolls I’ve read in a long time, heh.

  12. Richard Bartle commented on :

    Heh, I just gave a talk at DiGRA saying what I didn’t want to hear about MMOs in an academic context: http://mud.co.uk/richard/DIGRA2009.pdf . You may have levelled up, but a good many academics haven’t (and are proud of it!).

    And it’s now 8 types, dammit!


  13. John Scott Tynes wrote on :

    Let me ask the reverse question.

    What significant events have occured in MMOs in the last three years?

    The major players have not especially changed. I still hear about Runescape, Club Penguin, Habbo, and WoW as the Western pole stars of this genre. Other examples have come and gone and there are minor lessons here and there. But I’ve seen no sign of disruptive developments in this part of the world.

    Are the conferences stale because we have little new to discuss — and more importantly, because the presenters and attendees are failing to do much that is successful or interesting?

    Maybe we’re all just really bad at making MMOs.

  14. Sheri Graner Ray replied on :

    I think we have two things going on here.

    1. We are still problem solving in this industry – so we are looking for patterns and trying to understand them. We think we have found them.. but we aren’t sure, thus the “X is the best game” “Y is the only business model” “K is the worst company”

    2. We still haven’t learned. I’ve heard new people to the industry ask the same dumb questions for over 15 years. So, either we aren’t reaching them before they get into the industry or we are not using our veterans to teach them when they arrive.

    What we do about these things, I don’t know. But I don’t think this in any way makes any conference a waste of time. As long as the new people keep coming, we have to be there.. if for no other reason than to try to keep them from making the same dumb mistakes we did.

  15. Steph said on :

    It’s amazing how true 37 & 38 are (amongst all the others). Many times people will say contrarian “knowns”.

    But seriously, if everyone listened to what everyone else said, there would never be any innovation.

    Great post. It must have been fun coming up with all those known knowns ;)

  16. Wes commented on :

    Nice, your post made it to the front page of hacker news! http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=834698

  17. Joe replied on :

    I don’t believe that the fact that I heard just about everything on my list at least once during the conference makes AGDC useless. It just means that a guy who has worked on three different MMO projects and launched one of them is maybe not the target audience of most of these talks.

    @Richard: I know there are actually 8 types only because I read your book. It seems you only get to launch a player hashing function once.

    @John: MMOs themselves have been a big disruptive force in the larger game industry, but I agree that there hasn’t been much disruption in the MMO space. I don’t think that means we’re bad at building MMOs so much as it means that there is now an MMO formula that works pretty well.

    @Sheri: Asking dumb questions is kind of what new people are FOR. That they are coming to AGDC to ask them is a good thing because they are going to come away with the tools to avoid many potential traps. Not all the traps, of course, which is why we still see rocky launches. Unfortunately the most important lesson of all is “everything is harder than you think it will be” and that’s one you have to learn through experience.

  18. Halsted M. Larsson commented on :

    A couple crucial ones:

    * Nintendo and the wii saved gaming by making gaming for everyone
    * It is impossible to sell a core gamer title to the Wii audience

  19. Jen Steele wrote on :

    Hey Joe, Your list is pretty entertaining. I’m looking forward to seeing your topic proposals during next year’s call for submissions.

    Jen Steele
    Content Manager-GDC Austin

  20. Nathan F thought on :

    I have a similar list I started while bored at a recent conference session. I am thinking about creating a Bingo game with these anecdotes as squares. When I fill in a row and get a Bingo I will leave the session.

  21. Sanya Weathers said on :

    I haven’t been to GDCA in two years for family reasons, and so I feel vaguely comforted to know I didn’t miss anything.

  22. Gavin Longhurst replied on :

    Comedy gold.

  23. pooky commented on :

    LOL, you forgot

    “Less is more”

    “Guitar Hero should have done…”

  24. Michelle Hinn thought on :

    Nissa just sent this to me — Genius, Joe!!!

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