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March Issue Focus: GDC
March 2013
Sean Ryan, director of games partnerships at Facebook, talks about Graph Search and Facebook Dev Day at GDC 2013.
Pete Isensee, principal program manager at Microsoft Xbox, chats about building games for Microsoft's next-gen console, capitalizing on mobile and free-to-play, and the focus of Microsoft Dev Day at GDC 2013.
David Helgason, CEO and co-founder of Unity Technologies, talks about the 2013 Global Game Jam, the improvements in Unity4, and partnering with Nintendo on the upcoming Wii U.
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GDC 2013


Facebook   Back to Top
Sean Ryan, director of games partnerships at Facebook, talks about Graph Search which simplifies finding games, helping devs move up in the most popular games chart, and Facebook Dev Day at GDC 2013.
Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan
Q: Sean, Facebook recently launched the beta of what it's calling "Graph Search" which is being billed as a way to help Facebook users find developers' games more easily. How does that work? And what do developers need to do to take advantage of the new feature?

Sean Ryan: Helping people discover great games is a key focus for us. We're constantly working on improving the channels people use to find games, such as News Feed and App Center. Most recently, we announced Graph Search, which is still in the early days. However, over time, as more people have Graph Search, we're hopeful it will become another channel to quickly find and reengage with games. Search has long been a driver of traffic to apps, but with the improved search model, people can refine their searches to queries such as "Games my friends play," "Games my friends who play Candy Crush Saga play," or "Games played by my coworkers," etc. No updates will need to be made by developers to appear in Graph Search.

Q: It's hard to believe but Zynga's FarmVille was recently de-throned as the #1 game on Facebook by King.com's Candy Crush Saga. Does this signal a shift in the kind of gaming Facebook users prefer? Have you seen any new trends that might help developers move up in the Facebook most popular games chart?

Ryan: Zynga continues to be a big developer on Facebook and an important part of our games platform. One of the key themes we've seen lately is the diversification of Facebook Platform, and the emergence of categories such as arcade, casino, hidden object, and strategy.

Facebook read more>>
Microsoft   Back to Top
Pete Isensee, principal program manager at Microsoft Xbox, chats about building games for Microsoft's next-gen console, capitalizing on mobile and free-to-play, and the focus of Microsoft Dev Day at GDC 2013.
Pete Isensee
Pete Isensee
Q: Pete, Xbox 360 is still the top-selling video game console in the U.S. but revenues are dropping. Microsoft shipped 5.9 million consoles during Q2, down from 8.2 for the same period a year ago. Do you attribute that to gamers waiting for your next-generation console which is heavily rumored to be coming out in the coming months?

Pete Isensee: Xbox 360 has sold over 76 million consoles worldwide. Xbox 360 continues to be the top-selling console, a record it's held for 24 consecutive months. There are plenty of other bright spots. For instance, Halo 4, which rang up sales of $220 million in its first 24 hours, has earned the record as the best-selling game of the Halo franchise. Xbox LIVE boasts over 46 million members — people who love all the services available, whether that's great multiplayer gameplay, music, or video entertainment. What's most amazing to me is the continued improvement in game quality. The Xbox 360 silicon is unchanged since being first delivered in 2005, yet the software continues to improve and games continue to get better. This console has legs that will carry it well into the future.

Q: What can you tell us about that next-gen console … and how should developers who want to build games for that console be preparing?

Isensee: The Xbox team has always been dedicated to enabling new, deeper, richer experiences for consumers, but it's too early to comment on what the future holds. Right now we're plenty busy with Xbox 360. In many ways, the next generation is already here in the form of natural user interfaces powered by Kinect. Nearly a third of the Xbox 360 install base already has a Kinect sensor. Up until the launch of Kinect in 2010, the only user input that Xbox 360 developers had to worry about was a handful of controller buttons — a total of about 50 bytes per game frame. With Kinect, games have access to an incredibly rich input stream of depth and color and audio to the tune of 1.4MB of data per frame. That's about 30,000 times the information available with controllers alone! Game developers are still exploring all of the new experiences they can enable by tapping into the power of Kinect. Developers thinking about the future would do well to consider how natural user input can power their new gameplay ideas.

Microsoft read more >>
Unity Technologies   Back to Top
David Helgason, CEO and co-founder of Unity Technologies, talks about the 2013 Global Game Jam, the improvements in Unity4, and partnering with Nintendo on the upcoming Wii U.
David Helgason
David Helgason
Q: David, 2013 Global Game Jam just completed. As I understand it, this is a competition to see who can develop the best game in 24 hours. It seems as though Unity plays a big part in the development of the games for the event. How did it go this year?

David Helgason: Global Game Jam may not be an event that we throw ourselves, but we definitely like to support this type of incredible creativity by handing out timed licenses for Unity Pro. It's amazing to see the types of games that are made in such a small amount of time. It's awesome to see how widely adopted Unity is for game jam creations. Last I saw, there were 1,121 games made during the event with Unity. That's over a third of all of the games created for the jam which is a pretty astounding and flattering number. One such game that's been making the rounds on the Internet is the Surgeon Simulator 2013 game created by Bossa Studios in the UK. It's dark and humorously disturbing but shows the quickness with which developers can iterate and make pretty high-quality products.

Q: You recently released the latest version of Unity 3.5 — Unity 3.5.7 — with fixes for Android, iOS, and more. Have you guys now moved on to Unity 4? What's on the drawing board for the rest of 2013? What sort of improvements can developers expect to see?

Helgason: Unity 3.5.7 was the last update for the Unity 3 development lifecycle and, with the release of Unity 4 last November, we've shifting our resources to push a lot of incredible improvements into our development pipeline. We're looking to iterate on Unity 4 much faster than we've done with any of our version products before by focusing our efforts on smaller and compact releases. The grandiosity of Unity 3.5 was impressive, but trying to shove so many improvements and additions into one update was overambitious and meant the update took longer time to release than it should have. This way, our community gets awesome tools and fixes much more quickly.

Unity Technologies read more >>

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