In the first days of November, the Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2016 conference was held. We tell you how it was, and summarize the results.


About the conference

The Casual Connect conference was held by the Casual Games Association as part of its own educational initiative. Here is what the official website of the event reports: “Casual Connect is a conference exclusively for professionals who actively develop commercially valuable products.”


Casual Connect holds several conferences a year in cities around the globe. This time, developers from all over the world were hosted by Tel Aviv. The venue of the conference was the Charles Bronfman Concert Hall, a huge squat building made of glass and concrete. The guidebooks say that it is “the largest concert venue in the country.” There is no reason not to believe: it is very spacious inside, and the main auditorium of the hall – the concert hall – seems to be the size of a football field.


The participants gradually gather in the Charles Bronfman HallWho

The participants were located on two floors. The first one was given to publishers and advertisers. The second was divided almost in half between indie developers – and publishers again.

On the ground floor, everyone competed for attention as best they could. For example, Abbi, the author of technology for increasing engagement, attracted visitors with a popcorn kiosk, Mobbo, an analytical company, distributed T-shirts, and Product Madness, a publisher of casino games, put an ice cream machine next to the stand.


Murka stand
The second floor consisted of two balconies.

One of them was completely occupied by indie developers. Indie Prize showcase, within the framework of the international scholarship program for indie developers (which is also one of the initiatives of the Casual Games Association), gathered 60 games pre-selected by judges, created by developers from 21 countries.

The showcase looked like this: laptops and equipment stood in a row on endless white tables. Someone with a brand name, someone without. And here, despite the European coolness and austerity of the concert hall, what was happening resembled either an oriental bazaar or a carnival in Brazil: bright colors, loud music and a general atmosphere of cheerful madness. Each developer tried to draw attention to his game. Someone inflated and distributed balloons, someone did not let go of people passing by without stickers and markers, someone just loudly advertised their project.


Indie Prize showcase
According to Yulia Moshkareva, one of the organizers of Casual Connect, “one of the goals of the conference is to inspire!”.

And that’s exactly the feeling of boiling creative energy that was happening.

The future winners of the Indie Prize (which we will talk about separately), by the way, became immediately visible. The longest queues crowded near Klang Games, the creators of pixel ReRunners, and VR devices House of Fables with their Wrath of Loki.


Indie Prize showcase
The second – most part – of the huge balcony went in half to indie developers and publishers.

Here the attention of visitors was almost completely owned by the murka stand. The company supplied a crane machine with toys and T-shirts, and those who wanted to try their luck were not transferred all three days. A large stand with soft toys and pillows was occupied by the Israeli company TabTale, which specializes in the development and publication of mobile games for children. In the middle of the balcony there was a red and black booth of Playtika, one of the main sponsors of the conference.

Let’s add that the space between the floors was also not empty. The Israeli company Jelly Button has put a mini-mock-up of a toy city in the span. Everyone could take a picture against his background and feel like Godzilla.


Jelly Button StandAbout what

The program was intense – three days of five to six hours of panels and performances. Lectures were given by industry gurus, from the head of the Facebook gaming division to the head of the business development department at Google.

We have noted several of them. Jex Li, lead of the regional business development department at Tencent, described in detail what the Chinese market looks like and what the local user expects from games. Ron Rejwan, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli company Jelly Button, shared his experience in creating prototypes. And Ohad Barzilay from Sidekick Games drew an unexpected parallel between the Shinto religion and game design.


Panel about creating clans
We will note the panels separately – among the most interesting was a discussion about what is new in the creation of clans and how to deal with the players who belong to these clans.

The leaders of Huuuge, Plarium and ENROUTE took part in it.

In addition, events from sponsors were held on the first and second days of the conference. We asked Yulia Moshkareva to tell us about them: “Parties? Our parties are luxurious! Open bar, buffet, socializing and dancing! The sponsors of both parties, Facebook and Playtika, were very pleased: there were several halls, which perfectly combined the possibilities of networking and separation!”


Facebook PartyNumbers

The event was large-scale: the number of participants exceeded 1300. Of these, a third (32.6%) were developers and a little more than a third (43.18%) advertisers. 130 speakers spoke at the conference.

As we have already mentioned, 60 teams competed for the Indie Prize awards.


It’s about to become clear who got the prize for the best sound in the game
The conference in Tel Aviv was the second event held in Israel.

The first one took place in 2015. If we count the total number, then Casual Connect Tel Aviv became the thirty-eighth conference held by Casual Connect since its foundation in 2005. Next year 2017 will be an anniversary year for the Association: it will hold its fortieth event for developers from all countries.

Participants are already invited to the conference in Berlin. Yulia Moshkareva’s word: “The application form for the international scholarship program Indie Prize Berlin within Casual Connect Europe 2017 is already open for everyone who wants to inspire and be inspired. You can submit applications until December 5, 2016.”