GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, pass type, topic, and format. With this Session Viewer, you can view GDC 2023 session details and speakers, and share your favorites via social media. You will be able to build your schedule and access it during the show via export or Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up and seating is first come, first serve, so arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend.

Free-to-Play Summit: Creating Memorable Events with Emotion

Tim Nixon  (Director of Online Experience, thatgamecompany)

Location: Room 2016, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 20

Time: 2:10 pm - 2:40 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass

Topic: Free-to-Play

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

When thatgamecompany made the transition to a live-service studio, they faced the significant challenge of keeping up with the demands of a free-to-play economy while retaining their spirit of innovative game design. Events in live games tend to be quite dry and consumerist, so TGC challenged themselves to keep emotion at the heart of each event design and prioritize how the player feels over financial performance.

This talk shares key lessons the team has learned from three years of running live events in thatgamecompany's multiplatform free-to-play game Sky: Children of the Light (160+ million downloads, iPhone Game of the Year 2019). It will illustrate how events in Sky have been used to evoke childhood wonder, spark social connections, experiment with new mechanics, and deepen the player's connection with beloved characters. It will also explore the challenges the rapidly scaling team has faced as they manage a relentless live-content schedule.


Attendees will be inspired to see events and live content as more than just a grind, but as an opportunity to experiment and innovate, as well as a way to explore and enhance the core values of their game and their company. They will also leave with concrete tools for aligning a live-content roadmap with the company values and product strategy.

Intended Audience

This is for anyone in a live game team interested in learning from the successes and failures of an ambitious indie team as they work to create meaningful and moving events for their players.