White Nights 2016, Helsinki, 11-12.02.2016

The first edition of White Nights, a conference devoted to game development and marketing took place in Helsinki. It was organised by Russian company Nevesoft and its co-editions will be organized later this year in Sankt Petersburg and Moscow. It is an international conference which aims to bring together game developers and discuss the current trends on the mobile game markets. It is the only event which bring together Finnish and Russian developers and this is one of the most important reason to take a look at it.

Helsinki edition was located in Wanha Satama, only a couple of kilometers from Kamppi. Tram stop is nearby, so coming back to the city center was easy. The venue is spacious and everyone had a chance to eat lunch there. Participants were served free beverages and snacks during whole conference. The venue was chosen pretty well and suited conference – its size fit and I have not noticed any issues with it.

White Nights started from the pre-party on Wednesday’s evening which was meant to be a networking event for the attendees and developers. There was of course an official conference party on Thursday for people with premium passes. The rest of meetings was informal and although it might sound as not enough opportunities to network, it is crucial to mention that after registration to the conference, everyone was able to set up meetings with developers and companies in a space especially prepared for that. Similar system was used on Game Developers Conference 2016 in San Francisco.

Participants were given a quite wide array of choices in terms of spending time on the conference. There were to tracks of various talks and one workshop track. Furthermore, there were two halls for exhibitions for gaming and other companies. Everything seemed pretty crowded, except lecture halls. In the exhibition part, participants were able to play mobile games – both finished and in the development stage. Its own booths had for example Epic Owl and Green Grass Company. There were also independent developers both from Finland and Russia.

The quality of talks was different, but they covered a lot of different topics connected with analytics, promotion and design. Participants were given an opportunity to hear about Amazon store for mobile applications, interesting data about the revenue from mobile applications in different countries such as China or Japan or even how to develop games within small team. However, there were no talks about Russian market or development which is rather strange due to the obvious conference’s connection to it. I took part in a workshop about advertising on Facebook which actually was just a speech and although it was interesting, I was really looking forward to some exercises. For me the division for “talks” and “workshops” was not necessary – the main difference was in the duration.

For some reasons, workshops were not much different than talks except that they lasted longer, but not many of them had strong practical side or heated discussions. In fact, during talks and workshops, halls were rather empty. Unfortunately, I do not know still how many people attended the conference, so it is difficult to track the reason for that. However, exhibitions halls were pretty crowded. It was a very good opportunity to not to only meet Finnish, but Russian developers also.

It was an interesting event, well-organized and in my opinion its strongest point was the chance to meet developers from Russia, tough some products of theirs (like GS Gamekit) are released only for Russian market and thus even trying them on the conference was rather difficult due to language.

White Nights has a potential to become an important event for developers and a link to a Russian market, tough this event still requires some working on it. For information about next editions you should visit this website.

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