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The Liverpool leg of the Ukie Hub Crawl: An overview

We are now half way through the Ukie Hub Crawl – Next Level Indie, and before we all downed tools to eat, drink, play Elden Ring (maybe) and be merry for the bank holiday weekend, we stopped off at the dock city of Liverpool. Home to multiple games companies who started with humble roots and have grown into industry leaders, nestled alongside some of the biggest names in video games. Liverpool truly is a hub that is as much looking towards the future as it is being proud about its past.

The hub crawl was hosted in the Barclays Eagle Lab, thanks to our partners Barclays, and attendees from student to veterans sat together in a cosy little room with plenty of beverages for following few hours of talks, panel and networking. First up was Bartek Zakrzewski from Monteith International who spoke about managing financial risks with overseas exposure. As Bartek suggested in his opening sentence, FX isn’t the most glamorous of topics, but it is an important one to make sure developers are trading efficiently.

Second to the floor was Gareth Williams from Press Engine who discussed PR for indie games and how to get noticed. Gareth provided tips and tricks, reflecting upon the current Twitter debate around indie developers and their discoverability. One key take away was don’t feel pressured to do the PR yourself, there’s a reason it is a discipline in and of itself, and growth of a studio may mean hiring PR professionals or at least implementing PR tools.

Our last speaker was Thomas Bidaux from ICO Partners introducing the audience to Crowdfunding practices for 2022. In his talk, Thomas explained how crowd funding has changed over the years with developers needing to be strategic. The need to build a community, reach out with newsletters, and attract influencers is crucial as these are the people who will help you market your game. Going into Kickstarter cold to attract attention doesn’t work as well as it did in 2013-15.

Finally, the panel, consisting of David Harper (Skyhook), Alison Lacy (Avalanche Studios Group), and Niall Taylor (Draw & Code), settled themselves down on green sofas to discuss various topics around growth and independent development. A conversation emerged about organisational culture during periods of growth, with the panel acknowledging that it is hard to keep the same culture as a studio expands. As people become departments and founders become increasingly detached from the fine grain day to day running of projects. However, as Alison suggested, it is worth the effort to think about culture, adapting where it needs to be but keeping the pillars of the company intact This provides guidance even when you don’t know how to make a decision.

The panel finished off by discussing if growth is always necessary – which they concluded growth isn’t always correct. Sometimes it is good to stay small, to be increasingly agile to market demands, to cut down costs in the current socio-economic environment, or to simply follow a path of individual passion. Growth in these terms doesn’t mean physically size of staff or floor space, but personal growth as a developer and/or founder.

A big thank you to everyone who joined us in Liverpool, it was a fantastic night, so much so we ended up being there, chatting and networking, until the building closed – thank you Barclays Lab!

Please join us for leg two of the hub crawl starting today in Leamington Spa (9th June), followed by Bristol (15th), Belfast (22nd), and London (4th July). See you there!