Casual Connect conference to stay in Amsterdam?

Last week the Casual Connect convention was organized in Amsterdam, a big conference (1200 participants from all over the world) focusing on the casual games industry. Of course Spill Group was one of the main sponsors, as the biggest Dutch casual gaming company. I attended last year, but this year I decided to stay with my young son, so only Thijs Bosma represented Spill Group Asia in the Dutch capital. The conference was a big success, with big gaming companies such as Microsoft, Real and Popcap attending. It was also an excellent promotion for Amsterdam.

However, during the 3-day event the head of Casual Connect, Jessica Tams, announced that next year the convention will be held in Hamburg. The reason? A lack of cooperation from the City of Amsterdam and from Bgin, the Benelux Game Initiative. A bit strange, because Amsterdam tries to get international conventions to the city and also supports gaming initiatives. Reinout te Brake, Spill Group’s chief strategist, decided that this was too important to just let it happen, and started a campaign to try to keep Casual Connect in Amsterdam.

This weekend he started with an email to all people related to the Dutch gaming industry, and he followed up with an article on the well-read Dutch blog Marketingfacts. Twitter was also used as a tool to spread the word. Suddenly things went quickly and Sunday night a representative of the City of Amsterdam already called Reinout. Amsterdam-based newspaper Het Parool picked up the news, and also Amsterdam TV station AT5 reported about Reinout’s campaign.

And it seems to have effect. At least 3 other Dutch new media/internet related conventions (BrightLive, TheNextWeb and E-day) now plan to put their resources together and organize a 7-day event in March 2009. Discussions about this with the government are planned already. If it is still possible to keep Casual Connect in 2009 in Amsterdam is not sure yet, but because of Reinout’s involvement it seems more and more likely that the event will be back in 2010.

If anybody has ideas or wants to support the initiative to keep Casual Connect in Amsterdam, please get in touch with Reinout <reinout (at) spillgroup (dot) com> directly or contact me.

Photo: Paul van Heel

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