Gamezebo GDC 2019 Diary: Day One – The Tragic Life of a Mobile Games Journalist

By Glen Fox |

Day one of GDC 2019 has now passed, and while we did have a lot of fun, it was pretty indicative of the state of modern mobile games journalism. A mere half decade ago, developers champed at the bit to get a chance to meet us, have us play their games, and, most importantly, write about them for our baying users.

Now, we’re often greeted with bemusement – an after thought to influencers, UA touters, and Apple and Google themselves. It’s a sorry state of affairs when you have to explain to developer after developer exactly what a mobile games website is.

The truth is, we’re just not relevant any more. Apple now has an editorial team in-house, so there’s no real need to leave the App Store to get news on your favourite games. Discovery is also solid, with categories and carefully curated lists dotted throughout.

Embargoes, Embargoes, and More Embargoes

But back to GDC. A huge difficulty for us is the fact that most of the interesting and unique games we see are covered by lengthy embargoes. Developers toe the typical PR line that games should be announced by all sites simultaneously at the exact same date and time.

It’s an arbitrary rule that just serves to take control away from the press and give it to PR. As if they’re the ones calling the shots and we just dance to their tune. It’s just got to the point now where we’re growing increasingly disinterested in working with PR, as they only end up making our job more difficult.

As a good example, yesterday we were shown a game that has soft launched in several territories. If we search for the game’s App Store page on Google, it shows up. Yet, we’re unable to cover it as we met the PR who slammed an embargo on it. If we’d discovered ourselves, we’d have covered it right away but now it’s dishonourable.

Barefaced Lies

Another fun feature of GDC so far is the barefaced lies. We were told by many developers that their games weren’t actually out in the App Store yet. When we exclaimed that we were playing the game just last night they claimed disbelief. The icing on the cake was the moment we just whipped out our phones and showed them their featured spot in the App Store.

Also, we met a PR who represented Tencent that refused to even acknowledge Call of Duty Mobile’s existence. We didn’t press the issue but were pretty bemused by it – particularly when just an hour later Activision revealed the official trailer.

A Ray of Sunlight

Things started to pick up in the afternoon though. We travelled over to Game Connection America to see what the fuss was about over there and met many wonderful indie developers who were very keen to show us their games.

The highlight was Delight, an upcoming puzzler in which you play as a blind child trying to navigate a war-torn world. There were some interesting mechanics. For example, the world was shrouded in darkness until you tapped an object with your cane. At that point, the object sprang to life.

You really got the sense that you were a blind person, feeling around with their cane to try and avoid obstacles.

During instances where you had to avoid guards, your guide dog would lead you past them, showing the other side of life as a blind person. It was one of the most revealing video game representations of blindness we’d ever seen.

Check Back Tomorrow!

We’ll be back tomorrow with our day two entry so please do come back. We’ll also have more GDC news going live throughout the week so stay tuned for more information as it happens.

You can check out the rest of our GDC 2019 content right here:

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