Australian Games Industry Event Attempts to Connect Indies With Publishers
Calls from attending developers to increase networking opportunities will lead to changes in the event for 2017.
Interface is a business-to-business networking event which had its inaugural outing as part of PAX Australia 2016. Designed to provide a dedicated opportunity for Australian game developers to network with decision-makers and platform scouts, the event attracted more than 110 industry members from 55 companies, 19 of which were international delegates. This isn't the first time platform scouts have connected with developers during PAX Australia, but previously it happened incognito, with developers only knowing a scout was at their booth once the scout made themselves known.
“For year one, we aimed to bring the local publishing and development sectors together, as we felt there was a growing disconnect between the two,” said Interface co-organiser, Joel Van Daal in an email to GameSpot. “Over and above this, we wanted to be able to place our up and coming developers in a room with some of the industry’s heavyweights, I was blown away with the response from both local and international talent that wanted to attend.”
The event drew the likes of Apple, Google, HTC, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, representatives from Microsoft from across three countries, and more. According to Van Daal, and co-organiser and PAX Australia content manager Guy ‘Yug’ Blomberg, Interface was a necessary step toward empowering Australia’s large and small-scale development teams to put themselves in front of the right people. “Our goal was to get local developers mingling with the broader industry, and I feel we set a good vibe,” said Blomberg. “We had industry representatives travel internationally specifically for Interface, so from that angle we’re exceptionally proud, and it’s a validation of the event itself.”
But it wasn’t all roses. We spoke with some of the Australian game developers that attended Interface, to hear from them whether they felt the event met its intended purpose. Given the nature of the event, none were keen to go on the record, but some were willing to offer anonymous feedback. “I think it could have used more structure,” said one attending developer. “Maybe a chaperone representative, taking the platform holders and influencers around to each booth and making formal introductions.”
This was a common thread in our investigations, the perception that the unstructured nature of the networking portion of the event led to attendees catching up with friends or past colleagues, rather than taking the time to meet new people or check out the games that were on display. It made it difficult, especially for the younger, more inexperienced teams to break into conversations between high-powered industry members, especially at the end of a long day on the show floor. “You’d think a three-hour event in the early evening would be fine, but when you’re exhibiting nine hours a day, that’s three hours you could dedicate to being a human being again.”
“I think having the food and drink so close to the entrance was a problem,” said another developer, exhibiting their game for the first time at PAX Australia. “People saw the booze and just stayed there where it was, rather than going over to the booths. I stood alone at my booth for a good long while.”
Interface organisers are aware of this feedback, and have plans to improve on the event going forward.
“There are certainly a whole heap of learnings that Joel and I are taking away from the event, that we’re looking to implement for next year,” said Blomberg. “Changing up the location of food and drink, different coloured wristbands to quickly identify sectors, etc. Ultimately we want to curate a business-to-business event that benefits and brings the industry together in ways no other event does. The more feedback and suggestions we can get going forward, the better and more productive Interface will be next year!”
“We have such amazing talent locally, and we want to showcase them to the world,” said Van Daal.
Credit for all photos: Thomas Graham