Wanda Meloni and Steve Waskul discuss her work helping game developers as the CEO of M2 Advisory Group and about the Open Gaming Alliance where she now serves as Vice President of the Board.
Wanda has been providing strategic insight and consulting services to industry leaders in digital media and entertainment for over 15 years. This background, combined with her focus on interactive media trends, has positioned her well for providing meaningful advice to a wide range of content developers including clients like Sony Computer Entertainment America, Disney, Warner Bros., Qualcomm, Nvidia, Dolby, Autodesk, Adobe and EMC to name a few of the larger, known brands. (Additionally, Wanda runs the Gaming Business Review, which is her passion. Modeled after the Harvard Business Review, this web site focuses on the latest trends in the gaming industry and developer issues.)
Steve launches in by inquiring what a typical engagement might look like for her company, and she explains that it is really client driven and run by client needs which vary from large firms to smaller indie firms.
For larger firms, M2 Advisory Group’s role is typically in market analysis, strategy, and competitive analysis. For smaller firms, it’s more about giving advice on funding and getting them into the field of the big players, which M2 Advisory Group facilitates. Also, for tech companies, it’s about introducing them to developers. A very detailed business plan and knowing your market is crucial, comments Steve, but for him, delivering a product is also about “delivering an experience and knowing the joy that it benefited people.”
They discuss the market further, as it has significantly changed in the last decade. “The industry on a consumer level has exploded because of mobile,” begins Wanda. Whereas the gaming industry evolved mainly around the male youth market, it now reaches the gamut from grandmas to grand kids. This causes developers to need to shift their approach, and they need to move fast to keep up. However, a benefit to the pace of the market is that developers can gather a great amount of analysis on the market in little time. This can play out in two ways.
On one hand, increased analytics allow for developers to boil down the market to tiny fractions, thereby reaching consumers on an intimate level, but increased analytics can also cause developers to lose sight of their purpose to tell a story. “Games are interactive storytelling…when we bring it down to just analytics, we lose [the storytelling that] makes the games industry so special,” implores Ms. Meloni.
What also makes the games industry unique is that it builds very strong communities ones with trust and loyalty. Opposite to the common perception that gaming equates to isolation, Steve ties in how remarkable it is that people who don’t know each other and who do not even speak the same language can build a community together through a united experience in achieving the goals of the game. Wanda adds that we’re at an interesting stage of evolution, because we are more dispersed travel comes easily, communication more swiftly so, in some ways, the digital communities actually bridge the ancestral idea of community and the modern need for relationship. In a dispersed world, they allow us access.
To build on that goal, the Open Gaming Alliance has formed. As Ms. Meloni describes, it is an indie collective that supports the infrastructure of the gaming industry, especially in the U.S., where funding for development is not governmentally supported as in other countries. They aim to offer networking events and diversity platforms to continue the growth of the industry. She’s most confident that this alliance will garner strength for independent developers, especially.