April 4, 2024

GDC 2024: Highlights and takeaways from the industry’s premier event for game developers

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GDC (The Game Developers Conference) is the gaming industry's premier event, bringing together professionals from all parts of the game development and publication process to network, learn, market, and ultimately advance their craft. The annual event takes place over five days in San Francisco every year, offering a wealth of education, ideas, insights, and problem solving for the game development community to partake in.

This year, GDC 2024 brought nearly 30,000 game development professionals from around the globe to the Moscone Center in San Francisco this March, featuring over 1,000 speakers, 300+ exhibitors, and 730 sessions. 

Here’s what Mistplay got up to at this year’s GDC, plus key takeaways and themes discussed for the mobile gaming industry in particular. 

Mistplay suite at the W Hotel

Photo of Mistplay suite at the W Hotel at gdc 2024

To kick off the event, we set up a Mistplay suite at The W stocked full of snacks, drinks, and complementary swag as we invited mobile gaming publishers to meet with the team and discuss growth plans for 2024. 

Talking about the future of mobile at the 5 O’Clock Cosmos Happy Hour with Five O’Clock Club

Photo of 5 Oclock Club happy hour banner

On Tuesday, we teleported to another planet to network and mingle with the top growth leaders in mobile at our Cosmos Happy Hour with our partners at Five O’Clock Club. Over 250 mobile gaming professionals joined us at Buena Yerba Lane for a night of space-age fun with music, drinks, and great conversation around unlocking new mobile growth in 2024. 

A VIP dinner at The Boulevard

Photo of table setup for Mistplay's VIP Dinner at gdc 2024

To cap off the event, we invited some partners from the industry to a VIP dinner at The Boulevard to enjoy a family style meal served with a side of compelling conversation about the state of the mobile industry. After a fun evening, each guest was sent home with a head full of new ideas for mobile growth, a gift box of goodies, and a full stomach. 

3 key trends and themes from GDC 2024

1. Publishers are turning focus from mature titles to new releases in search for profitability

One key theme discussed at GDC 2024, stemming from current difficulties in user acquisition, is that many publishers are shifting their focus from optimizing monetization in established titles to prioritizing new title launches. 

Current macroeconomic trends are playing a significant role in this strategic shift – with data.ai’s State of Mobile Gaming 2024 finding that economic headwinds may disproportionately impact games – prompting publishers to adapt their strategies to align with changing consumer behaviors and market dynamics. 

This shift is designed to strengthen financial sustainability in an unstable market as publishers become more wary of profitability and are now quicker to move on from mature, underperforming titles to see if they can uncover new success with fresh releases. 

👀 Related reading: Loyalty is the new key to profitable growth for mobile games

2. The 2023 writer’s strikes are still affecting IP game content and performance

While the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes of 2023 are officially over, the impact and high-tension in the industry can still be felt and continues to impact production in regards to IP games. As IP-based games rely heavily on fresh content, the pause in new content production from affected IPs has created a trickle-down effect on these games, leading to limitations in updates and expansions. 

Furthermore, controversies surrounding IPs play a pivotal role in shaping the reception and scalability of these games, underlining the importance of managing brand perception and public relations for sustained success in with new IP-based mobile gaming titles. 

3. Spend is down across the board – for publishers and in-game spenders alike 

After the holiday season, a noticeable decline in spending has been observed across the board, from both publishers and mobile game spenders alike. While this part of the year has historically seen an uptick in downloads, spend, and budgets with players getting access to new devices during the holidays and more people at home, 2024 has been novel in that industry-wide spending remains down. 

This “softening” of the industry generally occurs every few years – notably during COVID, with a post-COVID correction – but this year, questions are raised around whether this represents the new norm for the industry. As a response, there is a concerted effort from mobile game publishers to tighten spending goals and identify the highest-value channels for investment.

If you’re looking to understand how to optimize spend and drive LTV this year, check out The 2024 Mobile Gaming Spender Report, which decodes motiovations, spending dynamics, and behavioral shifts of modern mobile game IAP spenders. 

Where will we go next?

Wondering what’s next for Mistplay? With GDC behind us and MAU upon us now, we’re looking forward to taking loyalty insights to APAC with events like G-Star and ChinaJoy later this year.

While gearing up for your own 2024 mobile growth strategy, check out the 2024 Mobile Gaming Spender Report, which delves into decoding mobile game IAP spenders for publishers to innovate their strategies to capture more share of the IAP wallet. 

Follow us on Linkedin to stay up-to-date on upcoming events so you know where to find us and subscribe to our newsletter to get industry insights straight to your inbox.


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