End users are increasingly sculpting the strategies of gaming companies through social media.

ADMS gaming panel

That was the overriding message from a panel of games experts at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit today.

“The biggest focus for us over the past four years has been a lot more engagement with our gamers and embedding their feedback into our strategy,” said Nicolas Aqqad, Arabic community manager, Sony Computer Entertainment.

“For a lot of reasons, engagement makes sense,” agreed Andy Kleinman, chief business officer, Scopely.

“Assuming anything in this market is almost suicidal,” explained Aqqad. “Users know they have power and a loud voice. You can build so much more positive engagement by asking them and building a relationship with them.”

The panel also highlighted a number of innovations within gameplay that offer gamers and advertisers alike opportunities to connect with other gamers.

“Your friends will be able to upload images onto the billboards within racing car games, for example” explained Aqqad. “There will be opportunity to get your Facebook feed in parts of the game and In-game twitter and social media will be viewable in games, too.”

Mobile devices offer even further opportunity for disruption, agreed the panel.

“Mobile will make disruption massive,” said Yann Fourneau, vice-president, EMEA, Gameloft. Mobile also offers opportunity to tap into a more diverse audience than console play: “Half of all mobile gamers are women,” continued Fourneau.

“This is probably the most exciting time ever in the games industry,” concluded Kleinman.

“Hard core gamers have the likes of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto and they are bigger than ever. But there are new types of games like League of Legends and Clash of Clans too and then there are more casual games for other audiences. More diversity is a great thing.”