For game developers, London's EGX expo is more than just an opportunity to test some of the biggest upcoming titles. It's a hive of invaluable information on investment, promotion and the ever-changing face of the industry.
We sent Mad Fellows co-founder Paul Norris down to the event to report on how emerging game studios can best take advantage of their time at EGX. First stop, the GameHorizon investment and marketing summit...
GameHorizon, the investment and marketing summit that runs alongside EGX is an incredibly valuable event for indie developers. The morning session consists of talks, presentations and panels from some of the games industry’s most influential people. The price of the ticket includes the opportunity to submit an application for formal pitch meetings with investors and publishers in the afternoon. The whole event is focussed on introducing promising teams that are looking for funding to investors. The tickets aren’t the cheapest but they’ve paid for themselves more times over than my shoddy maths skills can deduce.
Flashback to 2013
We went to GameHorizon last year when our company was only 6 weeks old. I submitted our application for formal meetings, a single page description of the team and the game idea, and anxiously waited for the results. We had no idea if we could expect to actually get to meet with any investors or not. The email came in a week or so before the event. We had secured back to back formal meetings all afternoon with the likes of Microsoft, Creative England, Sony, Nintendo and more. We were blown away!
During the morning presentations in 2013, Jaspal (Head of games at Creative England) announced their partnership with Microsoft and the Greenshoots programme. It fitted our project perfectly and we already had meetings scheduled that afternoon with both Creative England and Microsoft!
Back to 2014
Slightly groggy from flashing back and forwards in time, I found myself at GameHorizon again. This time, being one of the studios accepted onto the first Greenshoots programme, I’d been invited by Creative England to show our game and talk for a bit on stage as they announce Greenshoots 2. (I get a free ticket this time, which is a nice bonus!)
Speaking in public is something I’m still getting to grips with but it was a great opportunity to show off the game to a room full of developers and investors. It was nerve wracking and I’m not sure exactly what I said but no-one looked angry and there was clapping. I’m calling it a win.
Then, I could sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the presentations. I was sitting next to Simon Michael from Microsoft. He’s been a huge help to us over the last year and it’s always great to catch up with him.
Then there was a mid-morning ‘coffee break with networking’. It’s a little awkward. I think it’s partly because it’s a pre-determined time set aside to ‘network’.
Fortunately, no-one else appeared to have any issues with this concept and, as normal, I’d probably overthought it. A developer interested in Greenshoots popped over to talk to me and Simon about applying.
I spotted Chris Lee who used to be a Director at FreeStyleGames where I worked for many years. He also founded Media Molecule and is heavily involved with investment in the games industry. I had a chance to catch up with him briefly before he went on stage to join other investors in a panel. This was great and they divulged some very useful information about what those guys look for from a pitch.
The Show Floor
I finally had a bit of time to check out the show. I’ve always been an obsessive gamer and I always have a list of things I want to check out. This time, it was Sunset Overdrive, Evolve, Battlefield Hardline and Quantum Break. I also spotted a life size Sparrow bike from Destiny against a backdrop that people were having their photo taken on. I’ll have some of that too!
Now, this is probably just me...in fact, judging by the queues, it’s definitely just me but crowded convention halls are the worst place in the world to try to enjoy a video game. I see the queue and realise that, when I do finally get to the front, I’ll have people watching over my shoulder and I’ll be on a timer. I’d always rather wait and experience it, as intended, in front of my own TV in the middle of my 5.1 set up with my online buddies along for the ride.
Still, I like being surrounded by huge banners and loads of people that are all into games enough to spend their weekend in 2 and half hour long queues. The general atmosphere is always great.
Looking at the amount of people waiting for a photo on the Destiny Sparrow, I decide that a photo of someone else on it was going to have to suffice. Then, after checking out the American candy stall and failing to find any Grape Soda, I headed back upstairs to the Press Area for a meeting Creative England had organised with Will Freeman.
Will seems like a really nice guy. He was carrying an old school Powell Peralta skateboard which instantly made me feel at ease. Most of my friends are skateboarders and snowboarders. I suddenly felt a bit overdressed (I usually brush the Monster Munch crumbs off myself and put on a shirt and jacket if I’m going out representing Mad Fellows). We chatted for a bit about Greenshoots and he was interested to play SineWave. It’s really difficult to get any time with games journalists as a start-up, so this sort of meeting is really important for new indie developers.
With that, there was time for a mooch around the Rezzed stand where I ran into some other Leamington based developers, namely Modern Dream and Red Phantom Games, who were showing off their great upcoming indie games. There was a definite buzz around the indie games which is great to see.
With that, it was time to start heading back to Leamington to get on with finishing SineWave.
EGX is a great event as a gamer. As an indie developer, it can be a very important time in your calendar too. If you’re aiming to get the most out of it, it’s definitely worth getting a hotel booked and attending both the GameHorizon Investment Summit on the Thursday and the Marketing Summit on the Friday. That leaves your afternoons clear for meetings and pitches. Remember that you can bank on most people from the UK industry being there at some point over the weekend. If you want to meet a particular journalist, developer or investor, it can be a good idea to ask them if they’re going to be there and if they have a few minutes spare for a meeting.
You can download Mad Fellows Greenshoots supported game SineWave here.
Greenshoots 2 is now accepting applications. For more information and to apply, head here.
- Games Funding