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Casual notes on CGA EUROPE: EAST 2006.Part One


Casuality Party DudeThe last week, while casual game fans all over the globe were living their normal lives, something happened that will most definitely affect their leisure time in the coming year... For three days, November 16-18, casual games industry folks from all over the world met to settle on the objectives for the coming 2007 at Casual Games Association, EUROPE: EAST 2006 in Kiev, Ukraine.


Jeff and Brian from Oberon MediaThere was nothing promising about the week in the middle of November, except perhaps the weather, that was too sunny for that part of the year in Ukraine.


Just in case you don't know... Ukraine is a big lump of fruitful soil in the very heart of Europe. Fruitful both in terms of soil itself and people living on it. Not to mention its fertile ground for international partnerships and visa-free travel.


So, the day was sunny, and there was nothing special about it... until a couple of Americans appeared in the very center of the Independence Square and intended to take the stand of Kyiv founders. Look at them: Jeff Hendricks and Brian Poel from Oberon Media, a leading game publisher on the market.


Dan Prigg and Jeremy Snook from Real ArcadeLater on, in a hall of a posh Kiev hotel appeared two gentlemen from RealArcade,Inc. (RealArcade.com is where most of casual game fans hang out). Though speaking perfect English, they pretended to look like local Ukrainians after two days spent in Kiev. And it is to mention the scarves of the Ukrainian soccer team fans they had on;).


If we follow them, we'll get to the CGA Europe: East 2006, one of three Casual Game developer conferences held annually in the different parts of the world.


Why Ukraine this time? -You might ask. As mentioned during the conference, games developed by Eastern European companies formed the significant part of top download lists at such leading web resource of the industry as RealArcade Games.

Game developers... The ones who steal your leisure time... The conference was organized by Casual Games Association and such Eastern Europe game developers as FriendsGames, Alawar Entertainment, and CTXM.   It is to be said that Absolutist team was a great help in organizing it and providing courteous young ladies to take a good care of guests, to show them around and keep everybody happy and organize almost everything on the logistics.        


During three days the casual game developers from all over the world (with most part of them being from Eastern Europe) were talking shop. At numerous round-table discussions and reports the guys tackled such key problems as international casual games market, Eastern Europe & western relationships, legal and technical issues of game development, casual gamer portrait and other stuff that is quite far from the actual life of a casual gamer:).


Oh those Russians...CEO of Alawar Entertainment, Alexander Lyskovsky is speaking outJessica Tams, Director Casual Games Association warmly welcomed everybody in the beginning of the show. Dan Prigg, manager of developer relations at Real Arcade and David Nixon, studio director with Oberon Games opened the conference with their report on typical revenue splits and responsibilities of publishers and distributors. It was also quite interesting to listen to Kenny Dinkin's "Perfect Pitch" (Kenny Dinkin, a VP & Executive Producer PlayFirst and father of "Diner Dash". Moreover, he's the most artistical speaker).


Absolutist rocking teamOn the last day "technical guys" met to share their experience in programming (Vitaly Khit' Absolutist, CEO and creator of Bubble Shooter game), Maxim Stroev (CTO, Alawar), and Anatoly Robotov, Head of Games Department, CTXM.


Ingenious people from Absolutist managed to shoot and produce a real movie on the event that was shown at the end of the conference.


For most participants the conference was a good chance to strengthen their business relationships with existing partners and make some extra deals, while numerous "newbies" were demonstrating their first games to the big fishes of the industry.


David Nixon(Oberon) and Nikita Vladimirov(CTXM) are giving out I-podsFor some participants public sessions and sophisticated industry reports were a terrific opportunity to take a nap after a crazy rock-n-roll party organized by Oberon Media on the previous night.


It is to mention, Oberon team did a great job by setting up a party in one of the Kyiv rock-n-roll pubs. David Nixon, who turned out to be the greatest biker and rocker in the industry, was giving out free iPods to the luckiest guys present at a party!


Three days of the CGA EUROPE: EAST 2006 didn't seem long and were stuffed with significant events and people. Everybody agreed to meet at CGA Europe 2007 scheduled for January 2007.


Kenny Rosenblatt(Arkadium), Alla Khramtsova(Absolutist) and Tony Leamer(Oberon Media)This conference was a great point in the history of casual games industry.


It has become the right  place and time for many industry folks to get together, and to have a look at the long way they made as well as to evaluate their prospective for the future.


It was actually much greater than it was expected to be. Out of 170 registered members arrived ... 306!  


The organizers ran out of badges on the very first day. Many of the visitors from the West who would previously be afraid of coming to Ukraine are now thinking of opening an office here...:)


Want to know how CGA: Europe East 2006 affected your leisure activities and what each of the great casual game websites and companies are planning for 2007? Expect for Part 2 of Casual notes.


P.S. The only thing I regret there was no party scheduled for the third night of the conference:).



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