For upcoming video game developers securing seed funding can often be a minefield. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there. The third round of our GamesLab West Midlands fund offered grants of up to £50,000 to small or medium sized enterprises within the region with an intellectual property to develop. As Designed Games were one such company to receive investment in a previous round of funding. Formed four years ago by a group of developer friends, external work commitments soon saw the company fall behind. After deciding to take the helm, now-founder Adam Russell quickly discovered that a little support can go a very long way.
“Starting my own studio is something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Adam. “I was aware of the GamesLab South West grants so when it came to West Midlands it was something that I didn't hesitate in applying for.” Having seen his company succumb to start-up pressures once before, Adam was determined not to let it happen again. “I think it’s always going to be difficult to find funding, especially for a brand new studio,” he explains. “It’s hard to convince people, especially non-games people, to part with their money but having the GamesLab grant showed investors that other people had shown faith in the product and the business plan and gave them a bit more confidence. It mitigates the risk of it,” he adds.
Adam is fast approaching the release of As Designed’s debut game, an “auto runner within a sliding tile puzzle” called Impatient Squirrel. It’s this title that’s benefited the most from our GamesLab investment. “The key thing for me with the grant funding was allowing Impatient Squirrel to launch in the best possible way by giving it a proper marketing budget rather than just relying on word of mouth and Twitter and Facebook. It meant that I could do stuff a bit more professionally,” he says. “Having that Creative England support from the GamesLab fund makes the business more credible.”
All those interested in applying but worried their lack of business sense may hold them back, needn't panic. Adam found the application process to be painless. “It was really easy actually,” recalls Adam. “As long as you know what your idea is, you get across the passion behind it and why it’s better than what’s already out there, it’s quite a simple process. It just comes down to being able to sell your idea. If you can do that then you’ve got a good chance of getting the funding,” he says. “There weren’t any questions that I couldn’t find answers to within the documentation and in regards to the actual face-to-face pitch, we were told beforehand who would be on the panel so we knew what tone to set our pitch at. Obviously it's a lot different pitching your game to a group of games experts than it is to an angel investor who hasn’t played a game since Tetris,” highlights Adam.
With investment secured, Adam and As Designed Games finally find themselves with some stability, placing them in prime position to launch their debut game properly. “It definitely gives us a much better chance of succeeding early. By having a dedicated marketing budget we can spend some money on acquisition, guarantee some players, get early feedback and the game tested as well as possible before the full launch to mitigate any game breaking bugs that might come up,” he says. “It’s allowed me to buy equipment so that I can test on the actual device rather than using a simulator which is always better. I think it’s just going to give As Designed a much better starting point.
“I’d say just apply for it because although it might take a day or two to get all the resources together and fill in the form it’s good experience, it’s worthwhile having that,” says Adam. “Even if you don’t get through and get the funding, you've got that information there for when the next thing comes around and it’s going to be a lot quicker and you've got that experience of doing it once already. You've got nothing to lose.”
For more details on GamesLab West Midlands and to apply, click here.
- games funding