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

The Steampocalypse - A Survival Guide

Tuesday 10th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 4

For the last couple of years Steam has become a competitive space. In the last few months, since Steam Direct launched, that has got even harder. The number of new games on Steam has gone from a handful per day back in 2015 to over 200 per week in March 2018. Can this rise continue? What do these dark omens tell us of what Steam may do in response? Is this a ‘Steampocalypse’ or simply the next iteration in the ongoing story of games development? Should you give up? Move to console? Pivot to mobile? Jack it all in and go work in another industry? Tomas Rawlings - indie developer running Auroh Digital and a co-director of Bristol Games Hub shares with you some of the survival strategies that he and other indies are using to attempt to ensure that they survive the Steampocalypse.


  • Understand a key trend shaping our industry.
  • See what other devs are doing in response.
  • Learn how to plan your own response in a fast moving industry.

Developing on Roblox: How a Young Developer Built a Successful Virtual Game Studio

Wednesday 11th July: 17.00 - 17.45 : Room 2

The Roblox platform has exploded over the last few years with game creation skyrocketing and developers earning real money for their creations. This interview will be with Roblox developer, Thomas Hoeksema, who has successfully created multiple games on Roblox. Hoeksema will offer insight into his entrepreneurial experience in creating a virtual studio that leverages expertise from developers located around the world to create successful games on the Roblox platform. Roblox is unique, as it puts the ultimate success in the hands of the developer. Ultimately, does Hoeksema see Roblox as a stepping stone to other opportunities in the game creation world or is the Roblox platform itself an opportunity to build a formidable and successful career? Find out!

The Challenges of Attracting and Retaining a Paying Audience

Thursday 12th July: 12.15 - 13.00 : Room 2

All games need paying players to grow. Finding them is only the start of the challenge. This session will cover methods for exploring the right product-market fit for your games, the strengths and weaknesses of different UA channels, and the importance of optimising your campaigns and games for both paying and free players. Relevant metrics and case studies will be included.


  • Learn from experiences organising production and business for Gaming-as-a-Service.
  • Be inspired by trends in organisation and leadership to organise your teams for the future rather than the past.
  • Get best practices around building culture, managing distributed teams, and tools tips and tricks.

So You Have a Great Idea. What Next?

Wednesday 11th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 2

After the initial excitement that a great idea brings, the next phase can be daunting. Does this game have any chance of commercial success? Is the space too crowded? Is it feasible for our team to build it? This talk will provide a number of techniques that you can apply at various points in the game’s lifecycle to help you make better-informed decisions and improve the chances of your game’s success - whether you are looking to validate the initial idea or refine the game during production or even post-launch.


  • Learn the basics of Product Management
  • Learn how to validate your game idea
  • Learn how to identify risks with your game and how to minimise them

Lessons From the Wilderness. Positive Outcomes from a Failed Project

Wednesday 11th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 4

There is no doom and gloom in this session; it is a resoundingly hopeful discussion that aims to destigmatise failure and provide an opportunity to learn and grow from our most challenging experiences. This session follows the course of project that is destined to fail and discusses the factors that can contribute to such a fate. The session also looks at the aftermath, both personally and professionally, of a project that comes to an abrupt end, and the process of picking up the pieces and leveraging your hard-won wisdom to do it all again, only better. Simon begins before the project starts a vital time to plan for success, whilst preparing for failure. He then moves to the initial prototypes with their freedom to experiment. Then to the heady rush of taking a demo on the road, where hubris and humility mix with equal measure. And finally, into that odd space beyond a project where the painful and liberating process of dis-entangling your sense of self from the game takes place.


  • That failure can be as constructive as it can be painful
  • There are many things you can do to mitigate the costs of failure whilst maximising the benefits
  • That taking unexpected paths can lead you to your intended destination

Come for the Game, Stay for the Community: How Empowered Players Become Invested Players

Wednesday 11th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 2

Through 17 years of operating one of the world’s largest free to play MMORPGs, Jagex has gained first-hand experience of how a focus on elevating the importance of player engagement and empowerment can drive an increase in loyalty and retention – RuneScape’s average active player lifetime is over seven years. Jagex’s CEO, Phil Mansell, will discuss how to nurture player engagement to drive player investment and how to bond a community of players through shared experiences for long-term retention.

From the winners of the Community Management Award at the MCV Awards 2018, discover how to cultivate fandom within a gaming community, how to stoke its passion, and the essential ingredients, both inside and outside of the game experience, that contributes to player loyalty.


  • How to transform a live game service into a living game.
  • How to support and encourage your most enthusiastic fans.
  • How a deeper emotional connection between game makers and players delivers more advocates.
  •  How to scale community engagement and empowerment, no matter what size player base.

Team Organisation, Culture, Leadership and Tools in an Area of Games-as-a-Service

Wednesday 11th July: 16.00 - 16.45 : Room 2

In this live fireside chat, three production veterans will share experiences and ideas around how Games-as-a-Service affects team organisation, leadership, culture, and tools. The panel will address challenges of distributed development, scaling large productions, and new challenges brought by developing for VR/AR.


  • Learn from experiences organising production and business for Gaming-as-a-Service.
  • Be inspired by trends in organisation and leadership to organise your teams for the future rather than the past.
  • Get best practices around building culture, managing distributed teams, and tools tips and tricks.

VR and Disability: An Overdue Love Story

Thursday 12th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 5

Videogames are at their root about empowerment and escapism. Virtual Reality especially offers unprecedented options for immersion, enabling users, and freeing them from their physical constraints. People with disability are usually considered a niche market, an afterthought, a reasonable casualty in the existing marketing paradigm. With 1 in 5 having a disability, there is a large demand for entertainment by the people who need it most, but are notably discriminated against by VR titles available. Looking beyond the initial wow factor of VR, the truth is that people with transient or permanent disability look at VR as the primary tool by which they can expand their otherwise limited gaming and entertainment experience, making them an ideal core target.

The talk provides insight on the necessities, challenges, and requirements that disabled gamers meet daily, and practical, cost-effective approaches that developers may use to reach a wider audience that will persist past the initial curiosity wave.


  • Why gamers with disability form a core audience for VR
  • What are their necessities and challenges
  • How developers can satisfy the added constraints in cost-effective ways
  • How to effectively include people with disabilities in the development process

Rise Of Story-Driven Games - Challenges For Voice And Word

Thursday 12th July: 12.15 - 13.00 : Room 4

Story driven games are back with a vengeance. The renaissance started when the title Lifeline paved the way for text adventures to reach a new audience on mobile devices. More and more platforms are offering an exciting experience - some linear, some interactive. In addition, voice-controlled devices like Alexa or Google Home are giving story-driven games a new dimension. But how does game design and storytelling work when visuals are no longer the primary way to excite your audience? And how to monetize these stories? This talk will offer some insights on creating story driven games for voice controlled devices and the special constrictions these platforms enforce. Some basic experience in story telling and some basic technical understanding are necessary to get the most our of this talk.

VR Evolution: Learnings and Strategies for Designing AAA VR Games

Tuesday 10th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 6

In this session, Michael will share his experience gained from years of designing on AAA VR titles like: PlayStation VR Worlds, and Blood & Truth.

* The Challenges of Designing for a New Medium 

* Popular trends in the first generation of VR games since VR's rebirth 

* The Future of VR Software and the possibilities for emerging genres

* 10 things every VR Developer needs to know. 

* Feature development and how development priorities need to change when developing in VR.


- How a Game Designer's approach has to change when designing in VR

- Traditional Player Expectations Vs. Player Expectations in VR

- Strategies for opening up your game to new players, audiences, and VR veterans



Leveraging Culturalisation for Building Better Game Worlds

Tuesday 10th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 2

With over 25 years’ experience in the video game industry as a geographer and culturalization strategist, Kate Edwards has been involved in the world-building process for many, many game titles, from major franchises such as Halo, Fable, Age of Empires, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, and Tomb Raider to an assortment of various indie games. She has truly seen it all when it comes to geopolitical and cultural issues that can negatively affect the ability of a game to be distributed and enjoyed by a wide range of players across diverse geographies and cultures. She has also seen game designers miss key opportunities to create more robust worlds that engage players by leveraging more of their local cultures. Come hear about the little-known field of content culturalization and how it assists game creators with building better worlds that account for a wider range of cultural, geopolitical, and environmental aspects.


  • The audience will learn about how the often-overlooked cultural expectations of the "real world" can interact and impact the perception of - and ultimately the success of - a game's creative vision.

Five Stars – The Best Video Games of 2018 (so far)

Tuesday 10th July: 17.00 - 17.45 : Room 2

2017 was a bad year for the world but a great year for video games. So how does 2018 compare, so far? How does what we’ve been playing from Jan to June reflect the current state of the video games industry? And is it just us, or have there been even more reboots/remakes/remasters than usual these past few months?
Join Jordan Erica Webber for an incredibly subjective take on what she considers the best five games of 2018 so far, and how she thinks (or hopes) they reflect the direction in which video games are headed. Place your bets now, so you can enjoy the smug satisfaction of having already guessed half the games on her list, or the pleasant surprise of learning about something new.

Leadership in a collaborative marketplace - cryptocurrencies’ new business models

Wednesday 11th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 6

Cryptocurrencies’ new model of finance gives us a new model for business - a flow of increasing value that allows for expansion in place of competition.


With reference to personal experience leading talented individuals and teams to deliver completed projects, and including specific, immediately actionable strategies, this talk covers:

-Optimally effective individuals

-Optimally effective teams

-Expanding resources replacing zero-sum thinking

-The dual leadership model

-Mechanics of collaborative markets


-Harnessing individual talents

-Creating an integrated team

-Generating increasing value

-Communicating collaborative vision

-Leading through challenges

-Delivering on the promise

Keeping and Re-engaging Players (long) After Your Game is Out

Tuesday 10th July: 15.00 - 15.45 : Room 4

Fractured Space went into Steam Early Access in November 2014 and yet, without spending any significant marketing money, it has been playable 24/7 ever since and has a vibrant community of players and a loyal core following. This talk will be about what Edge Case Games has done across these years which has made this possible. James will also talk about what the future plans are to not only continue, but to grow the player base, and what he has learned from recent trends in this space.


  • Listeners should be able to takeaway actionable ideas that they can apply to their game and communities, for live games and also upcoming titles.

Social Marketing Revolution: How Data and Social Can Help You Win!

Tuesday 10th July: 14.00 - 14.45 : Room 6

How do you build an audience around your game even before it’s released? How do you turn loyal fans into brand advocates who celebrate and promote your game for you? We look at case studies from the world of TV and big brands and explore how a revolution in social media data and advertising can be harnessed to take on the big publishers and win. 


  • How to build an audience
  • The role of social advertising
  • Using data to drive creative
  • Turning customers into brand advocates

Live Ops: What is it and How to Implement it in Your Game

Thursday 12th July: 11.15 - 12.00 : Room 3

This session will cover the the 6 key areas that are required for any Live Ops game - events, promotions, new content, new features, community management and problem management. As well as an overview of what each area should include, the session will give insight into how to implement these within your game and your team, what tools and processes you should be using, and how to plan ahead to make the transition to live ops, and scaling of your game, as efficient as possible.


  • An understanding of what Live Ops entails
  • How to implement your game to support Live Ops
  • How to plan your Live Ops project schedule, and how to transition from development to live ops
  • The skills required within your team for Live Ops 

Design Workshop: Advanced Paper Prototyping

Wednesday 11th July: 16.00 - 17.45 : Room 6

In this 2 hour workshop, attendees will make a paper prototype of an action-based combat game. After a short introduction, they will develop their own twist on an urban zombie shooter. Their prototype will allow them to balance movement and combat rule-sets, as well as gain insight into potential AI behaviours and weapon systems, all without a single line of code. Ideas will be shared for prototyping time-sensitive reactions, tracking statistics, and other fast methods of finding the fun in a concept.


Game designers will learn practical methods for rapid prototyping of game systems. These will help you improve your designs, and increase your ability to communicate them to your team.

From Indie Puzzle Games to Esports FPS Game

Tuesday 10th July: 16.00 - 16.45 : Room 2

Bulkhead Interactive that started as 6 University graduates 5 years ago. Now they have over 20 developers in their studio. They have released two first person puzzlers and then gone on to create 'Battalion 1944' a back to basics WW2 FPS game. Their Studio Lead Joe Brammer will be talking about the challenges and decisions they made when striving to make bigger and better games, leading to their ultimate goal of making their biggest challenge yet; a first person shooter. Those interested in how to take your indie studio to the next level and grow to new heights will leave this talk with an understanding of what worked and what went wrong for Bulkhead Interactive. As Bulkhead Interactive is built up of graduates and with an average studio age of 26, if you're a University student or a graduate there will be a lot of relevant information in this talk for you.


In Plain English: How to Create and Scale Your Mobile Free-to-Play Game

Tuesday 10th July: 11.00 - 11.45 : Room 2

David went from years of running console studios to building and then selling a mobile free-to-play company. Now part of the mighty MAG Interactive, he's gone from knowing next-to-nothing about mobile F2P games to hundreds of millions of installs in the space four years. David gives an overview what he's learned in a way that anyone can understand and talks about best practice in current and future games.

What Players Want: Understanding Player Diversity

Tuesday 10th July: 17.00 - 17.45 : Room 4

Everyone who makes games is in the business of designing for an audience, but understanding what players want has become increasingly difficult the broader and more diverse the audience for videogames has become. Combining cutting edge psychological research with practical game design techniques, this How To talk puts player enjoyment into a more concrete perspective by answering three questions. 

What do players want? The ten psychological motives players have for enjoying games, from the victory motive to the narrative motive, provide every possible reason for players liking the emotional experiences of games. The most common mistake game designers make is assuming they are a typical player: they’re not, and neither is anyone else.

Does my game have what players want? The most reliable way of tracking audience preferences is to look at what players are already playing. Here, marketing and game design have to learn to work together to find the all-important balance between the familiar and the original.

Could my game appeal to a wider audience? You can make changes to a game to help it appeal to a wider audience – but you have to be certain you aren’t destroying the core experience just to go fishing for the mass market. Commercial videogames today have to court and keep an audience, and to do that you need to know which player motives your game can deliver, and which other motives are compatible with it.

Don’t guess at your audience: understand them, and yourself, and learn to make better games.



  • Understand the Ten Player Motives, and how to design games that satisfy these needs.
  • Estimate your game’s potential sales by recognising how to relate your design to games already in the marketplace
  • Maximise your audience appeal without destroying your core experience through careful design tweaking

Relatable Characters, Depth and Agency: How to Make Players Care About Your Story?

Wednesday 11th July: 15.00 - 15.45 : Room 6

Do you want players to care deeply about your story? Then you need great characters that grow and change like Walter White or Daenerys Targaryen. Your story can only ever be as strong as your protagonist is memorable.

But how do you write meaningful character arcs that aren't destroyed on a whim by player's agency? How can you preserve your story's integrity when players are in control of the character's fate? Some people say it's impossible and,indeed in most games, characters don't change. This session will show you that it's not only possible, it's essential to engage players on a deep personal level.

Join 'Heavy Rain' Lead Game Designer Caroline Marchal and BBC Drama Producer John Yorke to understand how to create characters that empower players for maximum emotional impact. 


  • Attendees will understand how to develop successful three-dimensional characters that work for any game genre. They will learn design and narrative techniques to give players true control over their character's fate through choice and create the most compelling, immersive and memorable experience.

Blockchains in Gaming: Today and Tomorrow

Tuesday 10th July: 12.00 - 12.45 : Room 4

Fig helped make equity-based crowdfunding successful and turned traditional games publishing on its head.  Now they are helping developers understand the value of blockchains in gaming.  Join Alex Amsel, Head of Blockchain Development at Fig, for this informative session, which will begin with a primer on blockchain technology and its first use case, Bitcoin.  Alex will then introduce the potential uses of blockchains to game developers whilst providing a balanced view of the nascent blockchain sector.  He'll wrap the session by taking a look ahead and offering some opinions on the future of decentralised technology and its use in the games industry.  Anyone curious about blockchain and cryptocurrency for their next game project will want attend this session.

Building An Audience For Your Game On Social

Thursday 12th July: 15.00 - 15.45 : Room 3

A detailed look at how to grow an audience for your game on Social Media, from the team at Happiest; who in 18 months have organically amassed a following of over 3.5 million followers.

This session will deep-dive into how and why you should go about building an organic audience on social channels, the best 3rd party tools to make use of, how to produce and package your content for maximum impact on social, and ultimately how you can maximise the return on the time you spend marketing on social channels.

We'll take a look at some examples of content that have worked well for us at Happiest, as well as those performing best in the gaming space to discover why and how they are achieving the results they are.


  • Clear guidance on how to maximize your time investment growing an audience on social channels.
  • Best practice in terms of producing and packaging your content for social.
  • A list of the best (primarilly free) 3rd party tools to maximize your efficiency.

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