Moderator: Eric Goldberg
Panelists: Michael Chang, Jonathan Epstein, John Hadi, Gene Keenan, Roger Wood and Kristin McDonnell
Panel moderator Eric Goldberg promised that his Advertising and Sponsorship session was going to be a culture shock for GDC, and boy did he deliver; despite the poor reaction from both developers and our fellow mobile gaming media, this was perhaps the most relevant panel to take place this year at GDC Mobile.
First some housekeeping issues to address: there was no clear message from the panel as to the best way to implement advertising within mobile games to subsidize cost. Panelists such as Johnathan Epstein and Gene Keenan felt that in-game advertising would never significantly appear within mobile gaming due to the problems inherent with a phone’s small screen size. John Hadl and Kristen McDonnell also offered criticism, addressing both the current lack of ad interoperability between carriers and difficulties in selling advertisers on a targeted demographic, rather than mass market game. And as Matthew Bellows of Floodgate Entertainment pointedly offered during question period, advertising is sold, not bought: off-deck advertising is a dangerous game that places a developer in the unenvious position of trying to draw enough traffic to justify their CPMs.
But the incongruity between arguments for and against implementation are only an indication of how early we are in the game of mobile advertising, and that the solution will most likely not be a one-size-fits-all model, but tailored models based upon game type, carrier, and other mitigating elements. The simple fact of the matter, however, and one that was reinforced by Robert Tercek during his keynote yesterday, is that mobile advertising is going to happen, and it will fundamentally alter the mobile gaming marketplace.