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London Hub Crawl: An overview

The day finally came, the last Ukie Hub Crawl of 2022 – from Brighton to Dundee and many stops in between, we came to end in London. Ukie welcomed members of the London games industry into our office and settled down for two fantastic talks and an insightful panel.

Sadly our first speaker – Kathrine Bidwell of State of Play games was unable to make it due to illness, get well soon Kathrine!

Our second speaker, Max Louis from MLC (Magda Ludum Creations) talked about ‘Team scale up done right’. Max considered the impact to studio culture during growth, suggesting that leaders need to think about culture, marketing and authenticity. Hire the people that fit with your values and keep a check on the culture as more people and projects are added. While the culture may change over the years, it’s important to do that mindfully and remember what the company was like at the start. Marketing fits into this because you want to tell the world who you are, and what you stand for. Through doing this, you can help attract the right kind of people who may be future employees or help you on your path of growth.

Up next was Peter Lewin from Wiggin who introduced us to tips and trick to negotiating game deals. Peter highlighted a few points to look out for in contacts such as defined terms, e.g. making sure what ‘deductions’ actually wholly include, lack of information, you can ask for clarification to be written down, and contradictions in wording. Peter here used an example termination clause to explain a contradiction in retained publisher rights. Finally, he provided some quick tips for negotiation – Do, give yourself time to read documentation (contracts are not meant to be an easy read), prioritise what is important to you, know your bargaining power, and provide reasoning for your changes. Don’t be scared to negotiate, as negotiation doesn’t always mean verbal, often developers can request email communication which can make it easier to do business if you are nervous. Don’t have tunnel vision and don’t ignore problems when they come up. Perhaps one of the next steps of growth, Peter suggested, is if you find yourself struggling with negotiations is to hire someone to cover your biz dev side.

Finally, we had our panel of Jay Shin (Arrogant Pixel) and Harriet Hughes (Playstack). We dug deep into concepts of growth and the future of independent games making. An interesting conversation arose while thinking about if the demarcations of AAA/AA/III/Indie are problematic with both panellist agreeing there’s confusion in modern day game making with what indie means. It is both a ‘feeling’ which feeds into design choices and a way to describe a title made by a smaller team. But, there are blurs to this and when does an indie studio stop being an indie studio? The panel struggled find an answer to this debate which has been present in the games industry for over a decade now. To close, Jay had a poignant thought where the reason the UK games industry looks like it has an exciting future because “it isn’t as big as it could be”, there is plenty room for growth at multiple scales. That, she suggested, is why it feels “there’s always somewhere you can call home in UK games development”.

A big thank you to our London speakers and for the attendees who stayed to chat afterwards. Ukie will be back with the Hub Crawl in 2023, so keep an eye out in our socials and newsletters to find out when we are coming to a town, city or screen near you.