Russ Clarke

Russ Clarke

Payload Studios

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Russ Clarke's game development career spans 25+ years, from his first job at Stainless Games as a programmer on Carmageddon 2, to Ideaworks Studio (Marmalade), where he led on titles such as Metal Gear Solid Mobile and Call of Duty: Zombies.

In 2013, Russ co-founded Payload Studios, an award-winning independent games studio with Vincent Scheurer to develop the open world sandbox vehicle builder TerraTech. In February 2021, the studio announced a minority investment from Tencent, to support the growth of the team and development of future titles with Payload’s signature community-driven model. Payload Studios currently boasts a team of 50+ and is working on new game TerraTech Worlds.

Russ Clarke is speaking at the following session/s

Cracking Early Access – From Design to Development – Lessons From the Front Line

3:00pm - 3:45pm
Room 4

Do Early Access the right way. Is Early Access right for you? How finished should your game be? How will it impact your games development and future roadmap? How will anyone ever find you?

Russ Clarke CEO and Co-Founder of Payload Studios will answer these questions and many more in this session aimed at studios looking to launch a game into Early Access on Steam.

London-based Payload Studios is launching TerraTech Worlds into Early Access, coming off the back of a top-ten Steam Next Fest performance (#9 out of 1100 demos ranked by followers gained) and building on the legacy of TerraTech, an Early Access success which still sells strongly and maintains a keen community in its 10th year since launch.

Community driven development is in Payload Studios’ DNA and this approach has allowed the studio to sustainably grow to 50+ developers, attract investment and continue to grow its player base and revenue. Clarke will explain why Early Access is a mindset and a methodology which starts long before launch.


  • What is community driven development and is it right for you?
  • Managing community feedback – how do you strike the right balance
  • The risk and reward of a detailed public roadmap
  • Managing hyper engaged players and what happens if something needs to change
  • How to establish your credentials and build momentum as you approach EA
  • Using Discord and closed playtests to engage your community
  • Steam Next Fest, building wish lists & working with content creators
  • What next – the development roadmap after Early Access

Session Takeaway

  • How to decide if Early Access is right for your game and studio
  • How to embed a true community driven development model
  • How to prepare for Early Access to give your game the greatest chance of success
  • What next – the development roadmap post Early Access

Session speakers

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