Sugar has arrived, several years in the making and our mission is to fill a huge void in the world of games. Financing for the games industry, no equity, pain free, all done just the way that studios want it. Our main focus here is to talk about the five key challenges we hear about from the studios we speak to.
But firstly, who are we? Sugar is a financing platform for the digital economy, created to provide capital to games and apps studios with exciting growth ambitions. Our range of flexible loans can significantly boost a studio’s growth without taking any equity away from the founders. We provide funds quickly and painlessly, so studios can focus on running their businesses and smooth out any cashflow speed bumps along the way.
Our favourite thing to do is meet and chat to as many brilliant studios as possible and, as a result, we know their pain points and challenges. Although we focus on finance, we can also help with other problem solving too.
Now for our top 5 tips for studios looking to grow and scale quickly.
1. The tech stack
It sounds obvious, especially when most studios have teams of super smart developers and games people, but often the focus is on the gameplay and getting a great product live, with too little time spent on how to ensure the game succeeds once it goes live. Whether it is analytics, attribution, live ops or UA, there aren’t any shortcuts. Every time we go to a conference, we’re amazed by the new software platforms that are created to add value to a studio’s life. Yes - you can drown in meetings with all of the vendors, but a few are really worth it. Feel free to ask us for an unbiased opinion - we love talking about it all!
2. A marketing plan
How will you market your game? Facebook? Google? Influencers? Do you think PR is right for you? Are you going to the right events where the right people will see your game? There’s so much to consider and so much work to be done looking at UA expertise, plans, tools, tests and potentially agencies to engage. It will involve having the right UA resource and budget ready to go and then testing and iterating - but you must have the right plan and people lined up to execute it all.
3. To self-publish or not to self-publish - that is the question!
So, this is a big point and one that evokes a lot of emotion. Neither is right or wrong; it just depends on your big picture plan. Granted, Sugar mostly works with studios who self-publish, but it’s not for everyone. Publishers add value, have UA expertise and can scale you higher than you could manage alone. On the flip side, you have less control and have to pay away a chunk of your hard-earned revenues. Again, there are lots of publishers out there, but by doing the work, you can come to a quick and informed decision - but make sure you give it proper attention.
Of course we‘d bring this up - but it’s true! Developing a game is expensive and monthly cash burn can build up. Make sure you think about the budget for the post launch phase too. Do you have the right shareholder base and the right mix between equity and debt? Most industries outside games have a healthy balance of both - it amazes us that the games industry isn’t at the same level, simply because it has lacked the right finance providers - that’s why we’re here! Other simple funding priorities are whether you have given yourself enough time to get your VGTR done. Then there’s the question about shareholder structure - we like things simple, but know it can get complicated fast! Take time to think about your cash flow, budgets, business funding and whatever you decide, give yourself plenty of time to execute on it - many don’t.
Again, this sounds obvious - but there’s no substitute for hanging out with your peers. Everyone has been through the same challenges and has had (bad) experiences that they’re more than willing to share. The big events are well publicised and well-attended, namely GDC, PGC, Develop and Gamescom. But there are also so many good local, lower-key events like UKIE’s hub crawls , GFM London, the Leeds Game Festival, Game Jams and Meetups up and down the UK - the list goes on and on. We will aim to host some local events later this year too, so keep an eye out, or join our newsletter to hear more.
If you want to chat to us about challenges you’re facing in your studio, or hear more about our financing products, get in touch and we can grab a coffee.