Several Manitoba gaming-industry companies returned from a large industry trade show in San Francisco last week pumped with potential prospects for new business.
Kevin Hnatiuk from New Media Manitoba said 10 Manitoba companies, the largest contingent yet to attend the massive Gaming Developers Conference, received some high-end exposure.
"It was very exciting," he said. "We can't announce any inked contracts as of right now but the calibre of companies that our Manitoba contingent met with and the positive response from companies like National Geographic and Nickelodeon was really enthusiastic."
'We have the size and experience that we can deliver at the highest level.'
Noah Decter-Jackson, the CEO and creative director of Complex Games Inc., the largest Manitoba company in the business, said he had meetings back to back throughout the entire three-day conference attended by more than 20,000 industry officials.
"We have one big deal that we came extremely close to finalizing at the conference," he said. "I can't say who it's with because we are still going through the paperwork, but hopefully we'll have something to announce in mid-May."
He said the project is big enough to keep 20 of his developers busy for 10 months.
Corey King, the chief executive artist with the Winnipeg augmented-reality specialist ZenFri Inc., said he had 60 meetings through the course of the conference.
"It's extremely valuable for us," he said. "Managing the followup is what's important now and 80 to 90 per cent of those meetings are something we're actively following up as potential business opportunities."
ZenFri, which last year received about $1 million in funding from the Canada Media Fund to further develop its highly touted augmented-reality game Clandestine: Anomaly, was one of 10 Canadian firms profiled at the show by Telefilm Canada.
"It's a happy challenge (to do all the followup work) but a monumental one for such a small company," King said.
Hnatiuk said the capabilities and growing depth, especially in the mobile sector of the Manitoba industry, is starting to get some notice.
"This mission opened lots of doors," he said.
Louie Ghiz, business director at New Media Manitoba, said local companies made contact with companies that could put some marketing muscle behind local titles.
"There are so many apps out there, it's tough to penetrate the marketplace," he said. "One of the ways to be successful is to establish relationships with publishers who might help with development and then come in to do revenue-splitting or royalty deals."
Complex Games, which has now grown to 40 employees in Winnipeg, has done fee-for-service development work in the past for large companies such as Disney and Zynga in addition to developing its own titles.
But Decter-Jackson said it has now developed past the phase of doing that kind of third-party work and now, in addition to developing its own titles -- including Iron Skies for which it received $500,000 from the Canada Media Fund -- the company is focused on partnership arrangements.
"We're not doing work for hire anymore," he said. "We have a stake in the back end for all the projects we're working on. We invest a little as well as the development partners and we receive royalties on the back end. We have the size and experience that we can deliver at the highest level. That's important for us because now we're in a position to negotiate for better deals."