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

The Spirit of Independence: Challenges and Inspiration from Three Decades at the Top

Tuesday 26th October: 9.45 - 10.45 :

After 30+ years in the games industry and with over 120 games created and launched, how do you manage the ups and downs of that journey?  By signing amazing games, building franchises, transforming a business, helping build the studios of tomorrow - to taking the UK stock market by storm by quadrupling share prices within 2 years and winning entrepreneur of the year of the UK AIM stock market in 2020. And as one of the only female founders of a games listed company in the world today - by putting gaming first!

Tackling the Myths & Misconceptions About NFTs in Games

Tuesday 26th October: 11.00 - 11.45 :

This year has seen the term Non-Fungible Token (NFT) crossover into mainstream consciousness, with the concept of 'digital collectibles' capturing the imaginations of both consumers, game developers and the wider entertainment space, thanks to the compelling new content and commercial opportunities enabled by the blockchain.

However, there have also been concerns raised around the suitability of NFT-based collectibles and entertainment for children, transparency around business models and the perceived impact the NFT/blockchain eco-system and its energy use is having on the environment.

In this session, Reality Gaming Group Co-Founder Tony Pearce will take a deep dive into the headlines and explain why the future is in fact looking bright and highly-sustainable for NFTs, in terms of both environmental impact and commercial opportunities.

Tony will draw on his practical experience of developing and launching blockchain-based games as an indie studio, encompassing both first party titles and titles based on high-profile IPs, such as iconic BBC series Doctor Who.

Takeaway:

• Learn what an NFT is and why investors and consumers are pouring over digital collectibles

• Gain an understanding of the compelling new gameplay and commercial opportunities enabled by the blockchain and, specifically, NFTs.

• Understand why a shift in how the blockchain works will soon result in huge reductions in the energy and costs required to launch and maintain NFT-based game content, clearing a pathway to mass market appeal

Selling Your Game Studio. Insights from the Sale of Hutch to MTG Group

Tuesday 26th October: 12.00 - 12.45 :

Hutch is a London-based free-to-play studio specialising in car games on mobile including F1 Clash, Top Drives and Rebel Racing. In December 2020 it was acquired by MTG Group for an expected $375M.  CEO Shaun Rutland talks to David Amor, who has his own experiences of company acquisitions, and speaks openly and honestly about the motivations behind the sale, the process of the sale itself and the changes experienced on the other side. They will offer real-world tips and war stories to help you prepare your studio for acquisition.

  • An understanding of the mechanics of selling a games business.
  • Typical deal structures when a company is acquired.
  • Establishing a fair outcome for the people in your team.
  • How to hang on during a rollercoaster of emotions.

Learning to Lead a Craft Team: Year One

Tuesday 26th October: 14.00 - 14.45 :

Leading a team can be hard and doesn't always come naturally to everyone. It is something that when done well can propel a team into success. When ignored however, can topple even the most talented set of people. 

This talk outlines some of the learnings that I've made after my first full year as a Lead Programmer and the run-up prior as a Producer. Although there may be some specific cases that other crafts won’t come across, I’ve tried to generalise as much as possible for fledgling leads in any craft. 

This talk aims to open up the conversation about responsible leadership within games. I’ll talk about team management, trusting your team, and some simple lessons that can be transferred into your day-to-day work life. There’s lots of material focused on leadership but few on what that is like in the unique context of game development. Hopefully, with these few pointers, you can reduce the stress of managing a team and focus on making fun and exciting games!
There is, of course, no one way to lead a team, but at least with this information, people don’t have to make the same mistakes that I have up to this point! 
 

Takeaway: 

In this session you should takeaway:
- A few mistakes that I've made as a lead and things that should be avoided. 
- Several tips and tricks that will help you manage a team in the long run, setting you up for success. 
- A few considerations about what it means to lead and how the role is different from others. 

Show Me The Money

Tuesday 26th October: 15.00 - 15.45 :

Ian and Luke will talk about equity funding options available to games studios looking to expand or scale up their businesses. They will cover seed, angel and venture capital, explaining the benefits and suitability of each type. They will also advise on how studios should make themselves 'investor-ready' for when funders begin their pre-investment due diligence. Delegates will have a better understanding of what investors look for when making investment decisions and also have a clearer idea on how to present to potential investors. They will also learn about how investors bring more than just money to the table.

Takeaway: 

Learn about various types of funding and how equity partnerships work A better understanding of investors Learn how to present to investors

Project Release Planning: Building an Iterative Framework

Tuesday 26th October: 17.00 - 17.45 :

In this presentation, you'll be given some background covering the thought process behind the release planning of a new AAA IP. Delving into why it is necessary to create alignment and work towards a unified cadence, and how to build a framework that can be fed into and iterated upon over time. Adam will discuss kicking off development, measuring health regularly, utilising tools such as Jira, reporting, closing, and finally, going live. He will cover what worked, what didn’t work, and how the processes were revised following feedback, leading to a more stable, successful framework.

 

Takeaway:

  • Knowledge of building a release framework to fit your milestones
  • How to foster regular deliveries and the steps involved
  • Different approaches to track and report on deliverables and progress, dependency tracking, and ultimately creating a package for your release

Fireside Chat: All Things Insomniac With Ted Price

Tuesday 26th October: 17.45 - 18.30 :

Industry veteran Ted Price, the president and founder of Insomniac Games, answers questions about Insomniac’s approach to game development in an increasingly unpredictable world.

Insomniac has been creating best-selling games for over 27 years including Spyro the Dragon, the long-running Ratchet & Clank series and Marvel’s Spider-Man. More recently Insomniac has released Marvel’s  Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for the PS5.
Host: Alex Spencer, Edge
Please note: This session will be via a live video link for conference pass holders as the speaker can't currently travel to the UK.

Creativity: The Indie Way

Wednesday 27th October: 9.45 - 10.45 :

Respected living room game developer  Mike Bithell hosts this keynote discussion with three of the UK’s most creative indie studios – White Paper Games, Spiral Circus and Jumpship Studio. Their 2021 releases were highlighted in the media coverage of E3 as some of the most imaginative and innovative indie games out today. The designers behind these games will share their creative influences and inspirations, talk through their creative process and discuss the triumphs and challenges of cultivating new IP while working from home. We’ll hear how working remotely during the pandemic has affected the team’s creativity and what they've done to overcome any issues, plus their thoughts on what the long-term effects of the pandemic are on how games are created in the future? Come along, bring your questions for the panel and be inspired to challenge your creative process and the way you design your games.

What's Next for the UK Games Industry?

Wednesday 27th October: 11.00 - 11.45 :

Discover what's coming up for the UK games industry through this informative talk. We'll discuss how the industry negotiated the Covid crisis, where the industry is today and what needs to happen for it to keep growing strong (and with support from the wider world).

Takeaway: 

  • A clear understanding of the current standing of the UK games industry today.
  • Knowledge of the major challenges that the industry is facing and ideas on how to negotiate them.
  • Discovery of the opportunities the sector can seize at local, national and international level.

Games That Retain - Google Play

Wednesday 27th October: 11.00 - 11.45 :

Retention is one of the most important metrics to track the success of mobile games. It defines the popularity of the game with the players and the potential for growth, for many studios opening up investment opportunities. As mobile games are becoming a maturing category, we see more titles focusing on engaging players throughout years, not months. From speaking with developers across a range of highly successful mobile games we have identified several characteristics of games that retain. In this session we look at how to build a retention strategy from the outset, how to flex it across game lifecycle and maturity and how to go beyond just time-based metrics. Will cover tactics around onboarding, progression curves, variable rewards and player engagement that will allow titles to have players coming back for years to come. 

Creating a Thriving Work Culture in a Remote World

Wednesday 27th October: 12.00 - 12.45 :

What if? What if we could take our company culture from good to great? What if we could do that in a pandemic where people aren’t working side by side, but thrown into a world of isolation? What if we could build a system which wouldn’t only support us during this time, but create opportunities for our hybrid future? These were the questions Sumo wanted to answer as the company, like so many others, was forced to deal with enormous change in a very short space of time. Sumo’s goal has always been to create incredible products that inspire a sense of wonder, but achieving that together requires teams to feel connected, developed and nurtured.

  • How to build a culture through social learning
  • How technology can strengthen company culture 
  • How to empower a bottom up company culture

Rising Global Challenges to Game Creation

Wednesday 27th October: 14.00 - 14.45 :

With over 27 years of experience in games as a geographer and culturalization strategist, Kate Edwards has seen it all when it comes to geopolitical and cultural challenges that may be overlooked in game creation and can negatively impact a title’s release overseas. As more governments now extend their content policies beyond their borders, we’re seeing a sharp increase in content being rejected for not adhering to a single worldview. In this new talk, Kate discusses what game creators can do to be better prepared for defending your creative vision against intrusive local regulations.

Takeaway: 

Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of how to create a content defense strategy, and be more forward-thinking about how their game content may be compatible or incompatible with specific markets. In particular, this talk will help equip creators with a framework for how to proactively develop a comprehensive reaction strategy that ties directly to their individual/company values. As a result, if/when an issue ever arises in a specific market about their creative choices, they will be fully prepared for a response.

Understanding Your Game's DNA

Wednesday 27th October: 14.00 - 14.45 :

When Konami Digital Entertainment Europe’s new Production Team set out to create a PC and console development and publishing business, it had to answer some fundamental questions. Questions such as what games does it want to make and how do they fit into the wider KONAMI portfolio?

This talk will offer an insight into how Konami Digital Entertainment Europe set out to shape its future by looking to the past. We will explore how the new business looked at classic KONAMI games to understand what gives them their enduring legacy in the minds of gamers. We will look at the common threads that run through those games and how those threads direct our decision making when looking for studios and projects to work with.

When looking at a potential project or partner we are always asking does this game have that DNA running through it, does it fit into the historic portfolio? Better still, is it pushing that DNA in new and exciting ways?

Every publisher is different. Every publisher has its own criteria when looking at projects. It’s important that studios remember this when pitching. Try to understand what that publisher is looking for and how your game might fit with them. Hopefully this talk will give an idea of the criteria Konami Digital Entertainment Europe has in mind when reviewing a new project and offer food for thought when pitching to any publisher.

Takeaway: 

  • Understand your game's DNA and how you can align it with the publisher's DNA
  • Discover how Konami Digital Entertainment Europe's new Production Team was established, what criteria matters to them, and what mistakes they made along the way

A Modern Development Culture for a Modern Development Process

Wednesday 27th October: 15.00 - 15.45 :

At Darewise, we aim to modernize the game development process for our game-as-a-service: Life Beyond. To support a rapid iteration and release schedule while the game is still under heavy development, we have had to adapt our studio culture and our development processes to match.  In this talk, we will focus on the programming aspect, on how to create, foster, and preserve a high-quality-code culture that results in a healthy, robust, and modular codebase that is resilient to design changes and could easily be reused for other games. We will cover the specific programming practices (best practices, code reviews, DevOps, management of technical debt...) as well as the equally important human aspects of management, hiring, knowledge sharing, and project planning methodologies we use. 

  • Best practices on how to increase rapid iteration in heavy development while maintaining/creating a high-quality culture (considering the hot button topic of crunch)

The Story of Oddworld: Soulstorm

Wednesday 27th October: 17.00 - 17.45 :

Oddworld: Soulstorm’s journey began in 2014 as the team was finishing up Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and ventured its way toward a next-gen push, assisted by Unity’s high-fidelity visuals, but it all ended up teetering on a technical moonshot to bring it all home…and that’s just the beginning.
Host: Will Freeman, Freelance Journalist
Please note: This session will be via a live video link for conference pass holders as the speakers can't currently travel to the UK.

  • How and which partnerships to build when creating a game
  • Learn about successes and failures when developing for both previous and next generation consoles
  • How to handle a challenging release and re-release a game, both internally and externally with the community

Running a 21st Century Games Studio

Thursday 28th October: 10.00 - 11.00 :

This interactive panel of pioneering studio heads will discuss how managing a modern game studio worked during the pandemic and how that translates into a successful future. Hosted by TT Games' Jonathan Smith, our panellists will explore the significant challenges facing their studios today, talk about what new initiatives they have introduced since the pandemic, and what lessons they've learned both from the pandemic but also generally from their experience of running a games studio today.

Get involved in the discussion - bring your questions to ask the panel.

It's Not Real Money, it's Robux: A Pan-European Exploration of Children's Attitudes Towards In-game Spending

Thursday 28th October: 12.15 - 13.00 :

Children today are spending more time online than ever before, and a huge part of that time is spent gaming. Headlines regularly shout about children spending hundreds of pounds on Fortnite skins or Robux – but what drives these decisions and where does the value lie for the youngest audiences?

Jelena and Raj present findings from a study of children and parents’ attitudes towards in-gaming spending, exploring how gaming motivations impact the decision-making process and what type of in-game spenders exist in this audience. They also present the up-to-date thinking on the ethics of monetising children’s games, as well as design implications of the audience drivers and attitudes.

In between research, strategy and application – they discuss how we build games for children – ethically, commercially and to delight.

Takeaway:

  • What drives children's spending within games, and how games can be monetised ethically and effectively for this audience
  • How gamer motivations impact in-game spending
  • Parents' and children's role in gaming decision making
  • Design decisions that cause delight and those that frustrate children and youth

Video Games - The Future is User-Generated

Thursday 28th October: 15.00 - 15.45 :

The passion & creativity of players is vastly untapped. In this session, you'll learn how to work with your players to expand game experiences, reduce productions costs and drive player engagement and retention. 

Takeaway: 

  • Expand game experiences with the help of UGC
  • Improve marketing economics with the help of UGC
  • Drive player engagement and retention through player empowerment

Why Does Everybody Want Flipping Metaverse?

Thursday 28th October: 16.00 - 16.45 :

Metaverses are the phoenix rising from the ashes left by the global pandemic. Right now, everyone wants one from Facebook to Crypto Kings. Metaverses are popping up like magic mushrooms after a rainstorm. One key ingredient to building one is Game Dev skills. And much like the .com boom & bust of the early noughties, there will be winners and losers. Who are they, and what does it mean for Jo Indie-Dev? 

This talk will outline what I have learned about this new trend, how it relates to crypto & NFTs, and where there are interesting products and opportunities for developers like us. I do not profess to be an expert, but I can share data and insight gathered from signing projects, interviews with key players & working with companies building metaverses and for the new digital world.
 

Calling all wannabe speakers!

Develop:Brighton brings together the game dev community to share ideas, learn and be inspired by each other. So if you have an idea for a conference session we'd love to hear it. Hurry - the deadline for submissions is 25 Feb!

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