Business

It's all very well making a great game, however without some commercial know-how and a sensible business model then you won't get very far in today's hugely competitive games industry. Our Business track brings together some of the smartest brains in games to share real-life case studies, practical advice, and best-practise tips so you can run a truly successful business as well as make great games. Also covers the challenges of game production, funding and marketing.

Business sessions

KEYNOTE: Going Nuclear: The Story of Todd Howard & Bethesda

Monday 2nd November: 17.00 - 18.00 :

This year’s Develop star Award winner Todd Howard reflects on 26 years in the video game industry, from 1995’s The Terminator: Future Shock to the upcoming Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI. 

During this fireside chat Todd will share some of the highs and lows of making games spanning multiple decades, platforms and genres. Starting out as a designer and producer at Bethesda in 1994, Todd rose to fame as game director for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. The two enormously successful, critically acclaimed RPGs allowed Bethesda to expand into other development studios and publishing offices around the world. 

KEYNOTE: Running a Game Studio - All You Need to Know

Wednesday 4th November: 10.00 - 10.45 :

During this relaxed discussion, four of the UK's most inspiring studio heads share their years of experience and insights into running a successful studio today.  The discussion will cover establishing a creative and productive workplace, making profitable games and selling them in the ever-changing landscape of this industry. They will also examine the importance of accessibility, inclusion and community within games today.  Whether you're an indie start-up or a seasoned developer, this chat will give you a fresh perspective on running your studio.

Hosted by Elle Osili-Wood, Video Games Presenter and Journalist
elleosiliwood.com

KEYNOTE: Talking 'Animal Talking' with Gary Whitta

Monday 2nd November: 15.00 - 15.30 :

With late-night talk shows forced to make dramatic shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, screenwriter and author Gary Whitta found a way for the format to thrive: by putting it inside of Animal Crossing.

In this fireside chat, Whitta sits down with journalist Rebekah Valentine to discuss the explosion of his Twitch show Animal Talking and its numerous celebrity guests, his shift to holding talk shows in Fall Guys and a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in Animal Crossing as he built a community around his shows, and his broader work as a writer for film, TV, games, and literature.

Hosted by Rebekah Valentine, GI.biz

KEYNOTE: Twenty Years of Designing Games, Managing Teams and Learning to Make Your Own Luck

Tuesday 3rd November: 17.00 - 17.30 :

Creative Director at PlayStation and Pixelopus, Dominic Robilliard, sits down in this fireside chat to discuss his 20 year career in the industry.  The discussion will cover his beginnings in QA at SEGA, then starting in design at Sony London Studio, working on such titles as The Getaway Franchise, and 8 Days.  During his time at Lucasfilm/LucasArts he got a taste for full scale AAA but also small team development with the Special Edition re-release of Monkey Island and Lucidity (LucasLabs). If we are lucky, Dom might share his experience of working with George Lucas for two years as the director of Star Wars 1313. 

He’ll talk about how his past influenced his current passion project: PixelOpus and managing a team made of students and recent graduates having their first experience in the game's industry. Mentoring them from their first small project, Entwined and growing them to a more senior team capable of Concrete Genie and beyond. Dom's passion for gameplay driven narrative, managing large and small teams, and breaking into the industry will be an exciting 45 minute session.

Interview by Will Freeman, Freelance Games Journalist

Lessons from both sides of the pitching table

Tuesday 3rd November: 11.00 - 11.30 :

Colin will give an insight into his process behind commissioning dozens of games as Games Commissioner at Channel 4, what he looked for in pitches, and what would warn him off commissioning certain projects or developers. Combined with wider experience from his 30 years in the games industry he'll summarise what's worked and what hasn't from a developer perspective, and give a number of actionable pointers that developers can adopt when pitching for new business.

Takeaway:

  • An understanding of a games commissioning decision making process.
  • Recommendations for how to approach seeking out new customers.
  • Actionable tips of how to improve pitching for business.

Live Panel: Diversity - The Road to the Future

Monday 2nd November: 16.00 - 16.30 :

The Diversity Star Award celebrates an individual who has shown a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the games industry. In this session the 2020 Diversity Star nominees get together to discuss their experiences of diversity in the industry, the challenges they’ve faced personally and in championing the cause. They will share actionable tips and advice on how to create a fully diverse and inclusive workforce, plus their visions for a brighter future.

Hosted by Kish Hirani, Chair - BAME in Games (Diversity Star Winner 2019)

We Can No Longer Wait: Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into Studio Culture

Wednesday 4th November: 11.00 - 11.30 :

This year has seen us face crises like no other. COVID alone would have made one of the most difficult years in our industry’s history, but with ongoing allegations of abuse, harassment and exploitation, coupled with the awful images that sparked the powerful Black Lives Matter movement, it has shown how we need to start working with Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at the forefront of our internal policies and hiring. Cinzia will walk you through the journey she took transforming Splash Damage's studio culture to become more diverse and inclusive: From Employee Resource Groups, Talks organised in the studio and even the staff Halloween Party! You'll learn the little steps required not only to get buy-in at all levels, but to make D&I a vital part of your studio's day to day. You'll leave this session with knowledge on how to adapt this within your own studios and ways to make your underrepresented employees feel even more welcome and included.

Takeaway:

  • How to make your studio culture more inclusive
  • How to help push forward with adapting the culture
  • How to make your employees feel more welcome

What is a Venture Capital Firm Looking for in a Games Studio

Monday 2nd November: 10.00 - 22.30 :

Hiro Capital looks at hundreds of investment opportunities in a year with the majority of these being games studios. Hiro would like to share why they think games studios are such a great investment and what differentiates great studios from good ones, what can make different kinds of studios more suitable for venture funding and where they think the future of games is going.

Takeaway:

  • Knowing what makes different studios more applicable than others for VC funding
  • Having a better idea of how to approach different kinds of VCs
  • Understanding some of the funding challenges UK and European studios face

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