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NEWS | INTERVIEWS | MAPS | EXHIBITOR LISTINGS

DAY ONE

SCAN TO LEARN HOW

TAKE YOUR GAME GLOBAL xsolla.pro/mcv

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MCV-DAY1-XSOLLA COVER WRAP:MCV-DAY1-XSOLLA COVER WRAP IFC 19/07/2019 15:16 Page 1


CONTENT Editor: Seth Barton seth.barton@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8785

A fanfare for the fan fair Once again the summer has flown by and we’re back at the Koelnmesse for gamescom 2019. This is the first of three daily magazines that the MCV@gamescom team will be producing for you during the show, including all the big breaking stories, plus features, comment and those all-important maps to the always bustling trade halls. This year’s show kicked off last night with a bigger-than-usual bang. Geoff Keighley’s decision to take on the new pre-gamescom show, Opening Night Live, should take an event that already has a massive attendance and bring it to an even bigger audience. The opening night helps kickstart the whole week for audiences online – with

Senior Staff Writer: Marie Dealessandri marie.dealessandri@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8786 Designer: Tom Carpenter tom.carpenter@biz-media.co.uk

all your marketing activity around the show benefitting from the increased mass market recognition globally – be that Twitch streams, YouTube videos or social activity. Gamescom remains perfectly positioned to push the titles that you want to sell this winter and to sign off the last deals that will support them, as well as meet with potential new partners for the future. It’s the perfect blend of consumer and trade show, or at the very least the best we have by far. We hope you have a great and highly productive week and we’re looking forward to catching up with you out and about on the show floor.

Seth Barton, editor of MCV

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Today @gamescom

MCV has an exclusive media partnership with Famitsu – Japan’s leading video games analyst and news source

05 News and interviews The biggest stories at gamescom

12 State of the union Is it time for devs to unionise?

16 A British horror story

Supermassive talks The Dark Pictures

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27 Exhibitor listings Plus trade hall plans

42 When we made...

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Baldur’s Gate

46 Gamescom voices

A bumper crop of industry opinion

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50 The final boss

Xbox UK’s Harvey Eagle

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12/08/2019 15:36


Ubisoft Blue Byte wants to establish The Settlers ‘as a global franchise’ The Settlers will return to PC in 2020 after a decade hiatus. Marie Dealessandri talks to MD Benedikt Grindel about how Ubisoft Blue Byte wants to duplicate Anno’s success with the franchise thanks to the opportunities presented by Asian markets UBISOFT revealed today that its reboot of the Settlers franchise will launch in 2020 on PC, via the Ubisoft store and the Epic Games Store, as well as day-and-date on the publisher’s new subscription service, Uplay+. Simply called The Settlers, the new iteration is being developed by Ubisoft Blue Byte, with managing director Benedikt Grindel (pictured below right) saying that he wants the new title to become a “must-play game for the strategy fans of today.” He continued: “We want to establish The Settlers as a global franchise. With its unique systemic gameplay, it has fans around the globe, and we want to reach them by offering the classic The Settlers formula combined with modern elements and state-of-the-art visuals.” It’s the first we hear about the project in a year, after an original announcement for a reboot was made at gamescom last year with a release that was first planned for 2019. The last original release in the Settlers’ series was 2010’s Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, to mixed success, then followed by mobile and free-to-play launches. “Since the release of The Settlers 7 and Settlers Online in 2010, we have always thought about the next Settlers game,” Grindel continued. “Now, with modern tech at hand and the Settlers inventor Volker Wertich back on board, the stars have aligned. The success of The Settlers History Edition that we released for the 25th birthday of The Settlers in 2018 confirms that it is a great moment to move forward with the brand.”

With a wealth of strategy games available on PC, including Ubisoft’s own flagship Anno, there’s only so much money strategy players can spend though. However, Grindel thinks all these titles can co-exist – and that’s thanks to new opportunities outside of the traditional western market, with the top three markets for Anno 1800 being Germany, China and the US for instance. “The Settlers and Anno are the signature games of Ubisoft’s strategy and sim titles. And with the release of Anno 1800 earlier this year, we have seen the potential of these games: Anno 1800 is the fastest selling Anno

game ever, with players around the globe and a rising interest on Asian markets. We want to duplicate that success with The Settlers.” Ubisoft Blue Byte is in it for the long run too, with The Settlers set to be a live game, Grindel added: “The Settlers delivers that ambition for strategy games and broadens the portfolio of Ubisoft. Also, with its very long lifetime and super-dedicated community, The Settlers is an excellent game to embrace the modern games-as-a-platform model.” Blue Byte is one of the pioneers of the German games industry, founded in 1988 and acquired by Ubisoft in 2001. “Ubisoft Blue Byte is the oldest developer in the country that is still operating,” Grindel further said. And as a whole Ubisoft has more developers in Germany than anyone else, with “over 520 team members,” he added. That is across three sites: Düsseldorf, Mainz and Berlin, with Ubisoft having a plan to have 1,000 developers in its German studios by 2023.

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16/08/2019 11:37


UK trade body Ukie states that no-deal Brexit would be ‘wholly undesirable and disruptive’ for games industry No deal means that this year’s biggest-ever UK industry gamescom stand, with 84 companies, is more important than ever, Dr Jo Twist of Ukie tells Seth Barton THE UK games industry trade body, Ukie, has warned that a no-deal Brexit could cause damage to the UK’s domestic games sector by plunging it into unwelcome uncertainty. “A no-deal Brexit would be a wholly undesirable and disruptive outcome for the UK and European games sector, with unknown ramifications,” stated Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie (pictured right) to MCV@gamescom. The trade body, which represents nearly 50,000 jobs across the UK in an industry which contributes £2.87bn to the UK economy each year, has long warned of the impact of Brexit on access to highly sought after talent, access to markets, the free movement of data and funding. But with the country seemingly moving increasingly towards a no-deal outcome on October 31st, Twist said that it is time for policy makers to “categorically rule out a nodeal Brexit outcome in order to support the sector and remove uncertainty. “We have been continually reminding government of the risks of Brexit since the referendum, and providing resources for UK games businesses to prepare for it. But the reality is that a no-deal outcome on the 31st October could stifle our digital economy,” Twist said.

“The reality is that a no deal outcome in October could stifle our digital economy.”

“We do not want to see a no-deal Brexit creating physical borders, or significant digital barriers. The absence of a data adequacy agreement for the legal flow of data could place an enormous number of games businesses on uncertain legal footings,” she continued. “We don’t want to lose access to services that are vital to digital economy businesses and we don’t want to see unnecessary red tape entangling small and medium companies. And potentially plunging the personal status of so many EU and EEA workers in our industry into uncertainty could endanger our hard-fought reputation as a place where truly multinational success stories can emerge. “We want to ensure that the message about the United Kingdom is that we remain open, and a fantastic place, to do business with all global partners. It is time we had some firm clarity and assurances from Government that a no-deal Brexit is ruled out for the sake of our thriving sector and the economy at large.” INTERNATIONAL TRADE Twist’s call comes as Ukie opens the doors on its biggest ever gamescom stand (Hall 3.2 Stand C020-E039). Themed around the 1980s to celebrate the trade body’s founding in 1989, the stand will play host to 84 companies, all looking to sign new business and strengthen existing partnerships. During this week, Ukie will be hosting a number of events to bring together the entire sector. These include two drinks receptions – hosted by Jagex and Coutts respectively – and Ukie’s annual Gamescom Game of the Year Award, judged by MCV@gamescom and sponsored by Wicked Sick.

“Gamescom is one key pillar of Ukie’s highly successful international trade programme. It delivered £113m worth of business wins last year at trade shows, through inbound trade missions and other targeted activities, demonstrating the sector’s global value and appeal,” said Twist. “But with the spectre of a no-deal Brexit dragging the entire UK economy back, programmes like this could prove even more successful by taking a potentially disastrous political outcome off the table,” she concluded.

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16/08/2019 11:40


Kalypso launches Port Royale 4 and Spacebase Startopia today as it doubles down on strategy titles New titles will sit alongside Tropico 6 in Kalypso’s gamescom line-up, which international marketing director Anika Thun reveals is the best-selling release in the franchise to date. Seth Barton reports KALYPSO today launched two new titles at gamescom. Spacebase Startopia blends economic management with RTS skirmishes, but adds a comedic element with a fully voiced AI narrator to gently chide your efforts through the ten-mission campaign, which sits alongside numerous other single and multiplayer modes. Then there’s Port Royale 4, a return to the past in more ways than one. The title recreates the conflicts of the Carribean, in the colonial 17th century, but also is a return to a franchise that’s been untouched since its third iteration back in 2012. As well as developing the islands and building trade routes, there’s turn-based naval combat to contend with. The two titles make up just part of a broad range of strategy titles for Kalypso at the show, said Anika Thun (pictured below), international marketing director at Kalypso Media, to MCV@gamescom: “This year we’ve got one of our biggest ever games line-ups, which includes Tropico 6 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, along with the Commandos 2 HD Remaster, Praetorians HD Remaster, the recently-announced Immortal

Realms: Vampire Wars and our two newest announcements… In recent years we’ve had a mix of different genres but this time around we’ve got a purely strategy-focused line-up” And the publisher comes to gamescom on a high, Thun explained: “We’ve seen some huge successes in recent months, with the recent launch of Tropico 6 on PC being the best in the series’ history, which is really pleasing and shows that we’re identifying what’s best for gamers as well as what works well for us as a publisher. ” Gamescom looks to be seeing increasing numbers of new titles announced, with Thun upbeat about the timing and presence of the show. “At Kalypso we find it’s held at a good time of year for us, where our announcements can have some real weight and target a different window to the typical windows associated with the likes of E3. We attend those shows too wherever possible of course, but gamescom is a consistently well-performing show for us on just about every level and we’ve been really pleased to see it grow and go from strength to strength every year.” And she was upbeat about the challenges facing the industry at wide too. “I think the games industry as a whole is in a pretty good place. The changing nature of retail is a challenge of course, and publishers are always adapting and changing to try and best connect with our audience, while new and emerging markets are providing opportunities such as streaming or subscription models. “In terms of the games themselves, what’s clear from a publishing perspective is that

we have to support our releases as much as possible, and we do that by constantly gathering feedback from our players and implementing that feedback as part of ongoing free updates to our games, mixed in with meaningful, high-quality paid content. Recent titles like Railway Empire, Dungeons 3 and Sudden Strike 4 have shown our commitment to this games-as-a-service approach, to keep gamers entertained and engaged for as long as possible.” Returning to the single genre nature of the company’s line-up this year, Thun finished: “We love strategy and the diversity and quality of the games we’re showing at gamescom shows how much depth there is to the genre as a whole. It’s a genre that’s constantly growing and innovating and we’re so excited to be a part of it.”

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Green Man Gaming on lack of LGBTQ+ representation in games: ‘Given the size of the audience, it begs the question: why?’ Green Man Gaming’s answer to toxic behaviour in the industry is coming in game form: Pride Run. David Clark tells Marie Dealessandri about what led the publisher to pick up the LGBTQ+ project

AHEAD of the release of Pride Run this October, Green Man Gaming’s managing director of publishing David Clark addressed the lack of LGBTQ+ representation in the games industry, speaking to MCV@gamescom. “Green Man Gaming has always believed that gaming should be for everyone and we added this statement to our company values,” Clark said. “As a team we felt this statement was even more important for us to set in concrete after we experienced several cases of toxic feedback to a few of our inclusive campaigns including the changing of our logo colours to celebrate Pride month.” When asked if the LGBTQ+ community and culture are represented enough in games, Clark immediately replied: “The simple answer is no. To the best of our knowledge, Pride Run is the only LGBTQ+ game that is launching this year. Which, given the size of the audience and the commercial returns this audience can deliver, begs the question: why?”

Negative feedback from a fringe of the games community may explain the reticence of big publishers when it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ titles, despite the big commercial opportunity this audience represents. Pride Run, which launches on PC on October 11th, is a rhythm game that puts players in charge of their own Pride parade, with Ivan Venturi, CEO and game director at developer IV Productions saying “it was about time someone took the passion that emanates from these celebrations of LGBTQ+ culture beyond attendees and out into the wider world.” By publishing this game, Green Man Gaming is certainly making a step in the right direction. “There has been loads of talk about diversity in the games industry and community. This is certainly beginning to change views on the industry side, but judging by the behaviour of some in the community, I think there is still a long way to go, unfortunately,” Clark said.

“There have certainly been games for the LGBTQ+ community and that have touched on LGBTQ+ issues, but the selection to choose from over the years has been limited. In part, the toxic reception from some elements of the gaming community towards such games and those that wish to buy them has put a number of developers and potential customers off. For IV Productions, this is nothing new and something they have been dealing with since day one of the project,” he continued. Clark fully expects backlash, though he also sounded ready to deal with it: “I have no doubt that Green Man Gaming will have to deal with unsavoury posts from some in the community when Pride Run launches and we’ll support the game and developers by sticking to the values we believe in. If it’s not for some, it’s OK, our values may not be for everyone but we’ll keep them anyway. “It is not exclusive to the video games community, it’s a social-wide issue that we all need to address collectively – as companies, as parents, as influencers, as a society. The only way to address this is to take responsibility and help raise awareness of the importance of inclusivity and diversity everywhere.”

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16/08/2019 11:43


No Straight Roads is Sold Out’s biggest investment yet – while publisher welcomes pitches for its $500,000 Unreal Box Offer Final Fantasy XV and Street Fighter V talent come together on Sold Out’s next big title, while it remains open to talking to developers at gamescom about its Unreal-specific retail proposition. Seth Barton talks to CEO Garry Williams UK-BASED publisher Sold Out has revealed to MCV@gamescom that No Straight Roads (NSR) is the publisher’s biggest investment to date. The game, from Malaysia-based developer Metronomik, is a music-driven action title, which pits rock music against dance music in the colourful Vinyl City. Sold Out’s CEO Garry Williams told us why the publisher chose this particular title to invest in so heavily: “We’re publishing physical and digital versions of the game, we have a great relationship with the studio and as for the game itself, the visuals are stunning and the music-based, action-packed gameplay is so fun and unique that we hope it will be remembered by players in the same way as the games it’s inspired by, like Jet Set Radio. We have high hopes for it being Sold Out’s most successful game to date.” Williams continued by explaining the talent behind the title: “It’s the first game from Metronomik, an exciting new indie studio co-founded by Wan Hazmer, the lead game designer on Final Fantasy XV, and Daim Dziauddin, concept artist on Street Fighter V… We’re very proud to be working with such top tier dev talent, and love the unique, original concept they’re delivering with NSR.” The title will be on show at gamescom on the Ukie booth in Hall 3 Level 2 (C020 E039), by appointment, and is looking to pick up more plaudits having already picked up the Best Indie Project award at this year’s Unreal Open Day in May. Speaking of Unreal, the publisher remains open to pitches for its ongoing Unreal Box

Offer. The initiative, launched earlier in the year, takes Sold Out’s strong history in boxed and offers it up to Unreal developers specifically, with up to $500,000 of funding for titles using the popular engine. “It came about because we’re still big believers that there is money to be made in boxed product and by partnering with the Unreal Development Community, it gives us the opportunity to talk to talented development teams who have yet to explore their aspirations for releasing their game in a box,” Williams explained. We thought the offer could be related to the boom in Unreal-based games that should come from the Epic Game Store’s discounted royalty rate, but apparently not: “No, it doesn’t have anything to do with that…It’s an initiative which can directly benefit the Unreal development community to get their games into physical boxes around the world and for us an opportunity to find the next hidden gems from an extremely talented development talent pool,” Williams responds. Williams wouldn’t disclose the size of its war chest for the initiative, but noted: “We don’t have a set number of titles or quota that we’re looking to hit.” He stressed heavily that they’re “not asking for any IP rights” as part of the deal. “So whether you’re a one-person team or 30-person studio, if you think your game could benefit from funding, please do get in touch, or even better, come and have a chat with us at gamescom. We’re at the show to meet new partners and would love to talk about what we’re able to bring to your next game.”

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New distributor 4Side launches to handle Activision Blizzard’s physical distribution in Italy Distributor 4Side was just created following an MBO by the team that led Activision Blizzard’s former Italian subsidiary. It says it’ll be “setting a new standard” in the polarised Italian distribution landscape. Marie Dealessandri talks to GM Paolo Chisari A NEW player has entered the game in the Italian games industry, with distributor 4Side launching today, before officially going live in March 2020. Tech distribution giant Esprinet owns a 51 per cent stake in the newly founded distributor, which was created following an MBO by the leadership team of Activision Blizzard’s former Italian subsidiary. Having bought the local subsidiary, 4Side has already signed a four-year partnership with Activision Blizzard for the physical distribution of its products in Italy. Mentioning this exclusive distribution agreement, general manager Paolo Chisari, former senior director general manager Italy at Activision Blizzard and president of Italian games trade association AESVI before that, said 4Side is “ready to give the same level of service to other publishers in the Italian market.” The Italian distribution market is still notably uncompetitive, with the biggest Italian distributor being Digital Bros (505 Games’ parent company). But the combined experience of 4Side’s management team in the region will be its strength, Chisari reckoned, and it should place the firm strategically within the market: “It’s by working [at Activision Blizzard] that I can say with confidence that I now know what publishers want and expect from a distributor, and I also know what a distributor needs in order to provide the right service, both to the publisher and the market it is working within. “The aim of 4Side is to become one of the leading distributors in the world of

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entertainment, and we think we’ve got all the skills we need to achieve that goal; 25 years of experience in the Italian market, for one, as well as a decade’s worth of experience in distribution, 15 years of experience as a multinational company – both in Italy and in emerging markets – and great financial support thanks to the composition of the company.” 4Side is present at gamescom this year, with Chisari saying it’s “the perfect place” to grow: “We are serious, and we’re prepared, but we also know the complexity of our business. gamescom will be the perfect opportunity for us to communicate this.” The announcement from 4Side further said that the new distributor plans to “revolutionise distribution in the Italian entertainment industry” and will be “setting a new standard by creating a unified one stop shop for all commercial and go to market requirements.”

“It’s by working [at Activision Blizzard] that I can say with confidence that I now know what publishers want and expect from a distributor.”


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As crunch remains an ongoing issue, Marie Dealessandri looks into how trade unions are increasingly under discussion as a solution for game developers in the UK – for better or worse

U

nionisation has never been as passionate a debate for the industry as crunch, nor as perennial. And that’s despite it having long been suggested that unions could actually be the solution for the bugbear of working conditions. Rockstar’s ‘100-hour weeks’ controversy late last year put both issues squarely back in the ring. Which is why we decided to reach out to developers, trade bodies and unions themselves to understand (the lack of) unionisation in games development to date. Some of our emails remained unanswered, some were met with a polite decline. If anything, the lack of response suggests trade unions remain a sensitive topic and that potentially the games industry lacks information or interest – maybe both – on the subject. Regardless of your broader opinions on unionisation, it is healthy as an industry to remain open to this debate. Here we’ll look into how it would work, why it could be good, why games development has been fairly indifferent to unions to date and what options are currently available; but also the downsides of such a move. It’s impossible for this feature to be exhaustive on the matter

though, or to reflect the opinion of the entire industry, so if you have something to say about it, to further the debate, we’d love to hear from you. A PLUNGE INTO THE UNKNOWN “Talk of creating unions have been ongoing for the best part of 20 years,” Amiqus’ business manager Liz Prince tells MCV, before making a crucial point: “Are working conditions in some companies any worse nowadays, or are we seeing an amplification of grievances due to social media?” Regardless of the answer to that question, these issues need to be addressed and the unionisation approach appeals to some. To say that games development is not unionised isn’t entirely true; to say that game developers are not widely unionised is a fairer statement. There are small scale options that exist already, such as the newly founded Game Workers Unite UK, a branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) that officially launched in December 2018.

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That said, there are currently no large trade unions representing game developers’ day-to-day interests, such as negotiating on pay. “Trade unions have not emerged to date for several reasons,” Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO of trade body TIGA, says. “Firstly, unions today are concentrated in the public sector. Union representation is much lighter in the private sector. Traditional trade unions do not appear to have given much focus to the creative sector. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of games studios in the UK are small: approximately two-thirds of studios in the UK employ four or fewer people. In these circumstances there is typically little need for unions because the business will often be run cooperatively.” If the creative industries have traditionally not been the focus of trade unions, there is one whose specialty is actually not far from it: the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union. “BECTU is the union for the media and entertainment industry,” organising official Naomi Taylor explains. “We cover all the people behind the scenes in the sector, from the BBC camera crew to the stage hands in the West End. We already have

members who are software developers in other areas, and gaming, whether freelance or permanently employed, would find a natural fit with BECTU, [which] has some members from the games industry currently.” However, the union hasn’t seen a lot of interest from the games industry to date, Taylor continues. “BECTU has explored unionising the games industry in the past, but the will from the industry at the time didn’t seem to be there,” she says. “From an outside perspective, it seems that the industry is getting a little older and realising that they don’t want to work the long hours they did when they first started. People want a better work-life balance.” Teazelcat’s founder Jodie Azhar reckons that some developers would not even know where to start as far as unions are concerned. “Unionisation would be a new concept to many developers and it’s likely the benefits of paying to join would be unknown to them,” she says. “While even those who don’t feel the worst of overtime and bad workplace conditions could benefit from unionisation, many people would lack the impetus to join without first seeing a union’s efficacy.”

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She adds that there’s also a much more practical barrier to unionisation: “The biggest hurdle in unionising is having people organise it. Running a union is a full time job and those passionate about starting a union want to remain game developers, so you have a catch 22 of changing job to protect the job you love.” BECTU’s Taylor explains those hurdles: “Starting your own union is a big endeavour. You would need to collect membership fees, submit accounts to the Certification Officer, as well as meet various criteria to be able to apply to become a union. You would also need to train people to be able to represent your members in disciplinary meetings and grievances, as well as to negotiate deals on behalf of the membership as a whole. You would need insurance to protect those you train and you need to pay lawyers to help with employment issues. In short, it seems like a lot of work when you could have your own identity within BECTU.”

Pictured above from top: Ukie’s Jo Twist, Teazelcat’s Jodie Azhar, Amiqus’ Liz Prince, BECTU’s Naomi Taylor, TIGA’s Richard Wilson

DEALING WITH CRUNCH Whatever form it could take – and already takes – it’s impossible to deny that a games dev union would have advantages for developers. Prince says: “If we’re thinking about games industry individuals, rather than companies or studios, there are definitely some who feel that forming a union would tackle some of the issues that are currently being raised regarding crunch, unpaid overtime and the workplace environment in general. I understand why some feel that unionisation is the answer because some of the working practices being highlighted at the moment are far from ideal and are being reported on extensively.” Working hours would indeed be at the core of the benefits of unionisation, Azhar continues. “The standout benefit of having an organisation fight on behalf of game developers is working hours and unpaid overtime. Almost 59 per cent of game developers report working over 40 hours a week and 12 per cent over 50. While most studios don’t enforce it, many people in creative industries feel obliged to work extra hours adding extra polish to their work. Words like ‘passion’ mask the pressure and downplay the crippling side effects of unmanaged overtime.” She refers here to the fact ‘passion’ is regularly mentioned by studios as a justification for working long hours, when obviously no passion should cost you your health. “Many young people put in extra effort to prove themselves or retain their job after entering this competitive industry, and rely on colleagues to show them the standards for working,” Azhar adds. “Unfortunately if those are already used to overtime these practices get propagated via workplace culture.

Having a union negotiate paid overtime would make employers take deliberate decisions on whether and when employees do overtime, removing the emotional obligation of doing more work to improve their part of the game.” Unions could also help various issues regarding salaries as, once again, working on your passion project can sometimes be used as an excuse to be underpaid. “Standardising and broadcasting salaries would benefit many employees. Most of the time salary is driven by demand, so joining a company at a critical time can drive your salary up, making it continually unfair to existing staff in the same role,” Azhar says. “Employees often feel the need to switch companies to get a higher salary as it’s more difficult to negotiate internal pay rises, or can find themselves with below average salaries because of the alleged ‘privilege’ of working on a well-known title. Negotiating is a separate skill unrelated to job capability that employees often require to get paid what they’re worth so a union negotiating on their behalf would create a far more level playing field.” TIGA’s Wilson adds that the benefits of a union would largely depend on its “nature and behaviour.” He explains: “If the union was focused on encouraging training in the workplace and working constructively with the owners and managers of the games studio then it could be beneficial.” Employers can also profit from unionisation, BECTU’s Taylor further says. “Employers benefit from having a more structured and organised way of communicating and consulting with their employees,” she says. “They really find out what their workers think, and in terms of making sure they are complying with UK legislation, such as health and safety regulations and the Working Time Directive, having union involvement can often help them to avoid a breach and the costs that come with that.” US AND THEM Talking about the downsides of unionisation, one answer kept coming back: the divisive aspect of trade unions, which we very much felt already at MCV as we tried to reach out to people to brainstorm on the topic. “Unions potentially create tension between employer and employees through a more ‘us and them’ relationship,” Azhar says. “Game development can create strong bonds between employees, including management, especially in small and mid-sized companies, and staff may not want to add an extra barrier or be seen as a trouble maker.” She rightly points out that those “issues are not specific to a game development union” though and “can be dispelled with research into successful existing unions.”

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TIGA’s Wilson adds: “If the union adopted an antagonistic attitude to the business then it could be divisive and damaging. Some developers might be concerned that a union in the video games sector could operate antagonistically or negatively, with damaging consequences for the studios concerned.” A point of view Amiqus’ Prince seems to agree with, saying that “union rules could have a hugely negative effect on small studios.” She also points out that the international aspect of our industry will make any largerscale unionisation a difficult enterprise. “A big problem that pro-unionists will face is that video games is a global industry,” she says. “Publishers and studios in one part of the world often work with other studios around the world. And different countries have different employment laws – so there is no onesize-fits-all approach.” We tell Taylor about how unionisation seems to bring up a lot of entrenched views – largely on broad political lines – and ask her if the reality is less divisive than some might think. “I would say so,” she answers, before adding a very important point, going against the usual clichés as far as the UK is concerned: “BECTU is not affiliated to the Labour Party, as we are a sector of a larger union, Prospect, who cover some civil service areas. “We’re also very conscious of the wide range of views our members have. You don’t have to vote Labour to see the value of a union in your workplace and to participate in a union-led campaign.” EYES HALF SHUT? When asked about the benefits and downsides of game developers unionising, Ukie’s CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE answers that the trade body “fully supports and endorses the best workplace practices that ensure working conditions are fair.” She then adds: “Unions for different skill sets and roles already exist in the UK across different sectors and strong UK employment laws already offer protection and support for employees and employers. “We are also in regular dialogue with various organisations and parties on this issue. We continue to see many companies in the UK industry evolve so that they retain and recruit the best people they need to succeed, and many businesses now offer increased flexibility to deliver what they need to.” While Ukie and TIGA certainly engage with the fight for better conditions, unionisation would likely bring it to the next level. Whether or not massive unionisation is needed or will happen remains to be seen though. “At Amiqus, we’re keeping a close eye on the discussions,” says Prince. “I think one online forum

“One thing we must consider is that, with Brexit approaching, we should be wary of anything that will make the UK a less attractive place to make games.” post recently summed up our current view perfectly. To paraphrase, one thing we must consider is that, with Brexit approaching, we should be wary of anything that will make the UK a less attractive place to make games,” she says. “At the same time, union or no union, we should all consider and continue to debate what the issues are – whether unfriendly working environments, crunch or more. Ultimately, we need to keep the conversation going and ensure that a career in games remains attractive.” BECTU is obviously keen to keep that conversation going too and is calling for game developers to reach out: “The best way to kick off the process is for people to join or get in touch. We want to hear from the games industry,” Taylor says. “We know that there are problems around long hours, and we need to be building a campaign around that. You can take a look at #EyesHalfShut to see a similar kind of campaign BECTU ran in the London film industry. The ultimate aim would be to get employers signing up to agreements that set out what kind of hours people are expected to work in the games industry. To achieve this, we need a strong, active membership to push for these kinds of campaign aims.” And Teazelcat’s Azhar reckons that, considering the situation, we’ll see more and more developers being tempted by unionisation. “As we see more open discussion about unionisation and the effects of bad workplaces, it becomes more likely people with motivation to formally protect the rights of game developers will come together, whether it’s those with the passion to make a difference, or people who have burnt out and want to prevent the same happening to others,” she says. “The support of those in more comfortable positions will greatly increase the momentum of a game developer union. Those who need a union the most often have the least capacity for contributing to one.”

Pictured above, from top: BECTU and Game Workers Unite UK offer differing approaches to game dev unionisation

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Marie Dealessandri talks to Supermassive CEO Pete Samuels about how Until Dawn shaped The Dark Pictures Anthology and how to deal with crunch when you plan to release a game every six months

I

t’s an exciting time for narrative-driven games, with more and more studios set up with one specific goal in mind: tell stories. An extension of the triple-A fatigue syndrome we’ve discussed at length in these pages, some developers are just tired of creating pointless shooters and soulless adventures. Creating a world and populating it with meaningful narrative is what they want. And if the success of God of War shows us one thing, it’s that it’s what the audience wants too. That also means that developers whose specialty has always been narrative-driven titles are in a privileged

position at the moment as the market is now more ready than ever for the stories they have to tell. Supermassive is one of them – and the studio very much intends to seize this extraordinary momentum with its bold narrative ambitions. The Dark Pictures Anthology is set to be one of the most fascinating narrative experiences in a long time, with each entry exploring a subgenre of horror – think American Horror Story meets Black Mirror. Starting with Man of Medan, releasing next week on August 30th, each entry in the anthology will be an individual story, a unique game.

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The Guildford-based studio started working on The Dark Pictures Anthology one year after Until Dawn. Praised for its world building and branching narrative, the 2015 hit is very much at the forefront of our discussion with Supermassive’s CEO Pete Samuels, who is also series director and executive producer of The Dark Pictures Anthology. He starts by explaining that after the success of Until Dawn, Supermassive was keen to try VR and see what could be learnt from this emerging platform. With the studio having always been in an exclusivity partnership with PlayStation, it made sense for the team to explore PSVR, with some great successes such as Until Dawn’s VR spin-off Rush of Blood. But during all that time, Supermassive was working on what Samuels calls “this great dream”: an anthology of horror stories – and a multiplatform one too. “We took a lot of learnings from Until Dawn. Not just in how we developed it – we always felt we could do better no matter what the reception was,” Samuels says. “The reception was great, but we thought we could take those learnings and do many more games rather than just one in three or four years.” Until Dawn’s strengths (and flaws) shaped The Dark Pictures from the very beginning, starting with the importance of having a game that can be streamed and replayed. Samuels mentions the incredible way “people gathered around [Until Dawn] as a community” and even years later you can feel the pride in his voice. “There’s something like a billion views of Until Dawn videos on YouTube which is phenomenal! My sense is that many more people enjoyed it than actually bought it and played it which I have no issue with,” he laughs.

“It’s great that we can get that kind of followers and that kind of buzz. So we were keen to keep that at the forefront of our minds as we were creating the concepts for The Dark Pictures and developing those games and their features,” he continues. Concerning replayability, a shatterproof story with many (many) different outcomes is what a studio needs to inspire players to go back to it – that was the greatest strength of Until Dawn after all, Samuels reckons, adding that one of the most important lessons he learnt from the title is “how much people got into the story.” He continues: “It was important to make sure that before we even went into production [for The Dark Pictures] we were very confident in the stories that we’re going to tell and that we have confidence that they’re going to resonate and people are going to enjoy the characters, that we have interesting relationships that people can mould. So there’s a lot more of that in Man of Medan. “The amount of times that people replayed Until Dawn was astonishing. For many games the completion rates are surprisingly low and with Until Dawn, we were told at the time it released that it [had] the highest completion rate of any game on Sony’s platform, which was absolutely fabulous. And then we got reports of people who were on the 13th, 14th or 15th playthrough, which is phenomenal! So we put a lot of time, effort and thought into how to make [The Dark Pictures] more replayable – slightly shorter, running at four and a half hours rather than Until Dawn’s eight or nine hours, but massively more branching. Man of Medan is by far the most branching game narrative that we’ve ever attempted.” HOME INVASION AT SEA To bring Man of Medan’s complex narrative branching to life, Supermassive built a tool to sift the wheat from the chaff in its story. “One of the other learnings from Until Dawn was how much we threw away,” Samuels exclaims. “In some respects it’s like a film-making process – it’s definitely game development and driven by technology and interactivity but a lot of our quality comes in the edit. Our content is expensive, so every bit that we don’t use is money that we could have spent on making what ultimately goes out. “So we’ve built a tool whereby we can play our entire game and all its branches and feel the mood and playtest it with people to see if they follow the story and the characters, way before we go into production. And even before we’ve had the script written, we used that to write the screenplay. And that’s all played in 2D with a gamepad. “A group of us sit in a big room in the studio and we play through it and make sure that the characters are coming across in 2D the way that you want them to. Because we’ve learnt that if it doesn’t work in 2D, no matter how much money you throw out there it ain’t going to work in 3D! So we have to get it right at that stage. So when we go into production we have much more confidence in the story we’re telling and the characters we’re portraying, and the pacing is what we wanted.” While the concept and its content pretty much stayed the same throughout development, the pacing did take a while to nail, Samuels continues. “Four years ago on paper, [The Dark Pictures Anthology games] were actually going to be much shorter games,” he says. “They were

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Pictured above: The Dark Pictures Anthology will explore numerous horror genres, so expect a lot more than traditional horror tropes than this

going to be one and a half to two hours and they were going to be more frequent – four games a year. So that evolved to less frequently, as we’re looking to do two games every year, but a more significant size for the map. We just found that two hours wasn’t long enough for us in this medium to tell stories with the depth that we wanted and to have enough characters that you could get to relate to, understand and empathise with. “It was during some early tests with our tool that we realised they were all a bit rushed and a bit shallow if we tried to do them in two hours – and depth is important. So that’s probably the biggest evolution. But much has stayed the same, with our aim to reflect different subgenres of horror.” The first genre to be explored is actually two genres in one, with Man of Medan set to start with a “very paranormal tone and feel, and then move into something that people will recognise as more of a home invasion genre,” Samuels says, before joking that it’s more a “home invasion at sea” really, as the game is set on a boat, with parts of the story inspired by the very real (and ill fated) SS Ourang Medan (we’ll let you Google it as there’s much debate around the so-called ghost ship). But apart from this, Samuels won’t give us more details about Man of Medan’s horror influences. “It moves into something else which I won’t discuss cause I’d rather people found out for themselves. I think one of the things about Until Dawn that worked well was the element of surprise, with what it was really about hidden prior to release. Some people loved that. A few people didn’t. You can’t please everybody,” he grins. “But largely the surprise was very well received – and how that stood solidly in that narrative. We’re very careful not to just go off on a tangent and suddenly turn [Man of Medan] into something else for no apparent reason. As with Until Dawn, one thing that we aim for

is that when people play it through for a second time they actually see things that they feel they should have realised the first time they played it through, but didn’t. “We’re very adamant that we never lie to the player, we are careful with misdirection and there are no huge coincidences. We are very strict on ourselves and our stories about that – everything needs to have a reason and be justified. And if any of us think that something happens that’s too much of a coincidence – even like two people arriving at the same place at the same time – we’ll challenge that. So why has that person arrived exactly at the same time as you? Unless there’s a justification for it, they arrive at a certain time of the day, they don’t arrive at the same time as you. So we try to keep a lot of truth in what we do in the narrative.” THE REAL FEAR Having a truthful narrative is a rule that Supermassive intends to apply to every Dark Pictures’ entry going forward – and there’s a lot of them. The second game is “well into production” Samuels tells us. The third is coming to the end of its design and about to go into production. The fourth is about to go into design, as is the fifth. The team has concepts for the sixth, seventh and eight entries. It may seem like a lot at once but for Supermassive it’s crucial to see the big picture. “The sequence of the stories that we tell is important not because they’re linked but because we want to surprise people every time,” Samuels says. “We want each one to feel fresh: in the atmosphere, in the characters, in the subgenres that we’re dealing with and what the threat of horror is. That’s important. “There is a character that you have seen in the trailers called The Curator that bridges them together and gives a commentary. His is the arc that develops across the anthology. They are in the same universe so there are

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links between some of them. One thing we’re doing is putting little hints in each game about what the next ones might be about. So it’s important for us to have that plan laid out so that we can do that. People who play Man of Medan will discover things that initially may seem almost irrelevant but then in later games they’ll see that they’re very deliberately there to give a hint as to some of the stories that are to come.” Despite this very interesting foreshadowing in each title, Samuels is keen to remind that all the Dark Pictures games are individual entries. “It’s important to us that people can play this at any time and not be disadvantaged,” he says. “So you don’t have to play the first game at all to get the same amount of enjoyment out of the second or the third. We’re very keen that if people join the anthology six months or 12 months after we start, and enjoy it, that they know that there are other games already out there that are part of that series, that aren’t spoiled by what they’ve played.” The Dark Pictures Anthology sounds like a Herculean project that will keep Supermassive busy for years to come. That brought crunch back to the forefront of the studio’s worries, which Samuels says is “the challenge of developing an anthology,” with the studio also working on “two [other] significant projects,” he adds. “I think that’s one thing that we recognised really early on, if we were going to be releasing significant games using the same team…” he impresses on us. “And that’s important: it’s a Dark Pictures team here. Different game directors for each game but transferring knowledge, experience and skills from game to game is important,” he pauses – and reassuringly we feel he’s been thinking long and hard about the potential problems here. “We have a fear of constant crunch. But we recognised that quite early in the process, that there was the potential for that to happen if we didn’t manage things differently than we would on a four-year project, when crunch can only happen every four years. “We didn’t want it to happen every three to six months. So we’ve completely redeveloped our planning systems and methodology to get more confidence in our plans and schedules. It’s always hard work. The guys always want it to be the best that they can make it and there is always something else they can think of to make it better. But that was probably one of the significant challenges and I think we’ve done a better than reasonably good job with that for the first one and it’s looking good for the future, in terms of how we manage.” KEEP ON KEEPING ON To give itself the resources to fulfil its ambitions (and further avoid any crunch), Supermassive will be scaling up in the next year, Samuels says: “We’re at 180 people in the studio in Guilford, with partners supporting us all

over the world – and we need to grow both of those over the next 12 months. We’re constantly on the lookout for great talent across all disciplines and great talent is hard to find. Generally we’re looking for people who have a passion for creating games with a strong narrative, bleeding-edge graphics and our kind of in-house cinematic look and sound. We’re looking to hire across engineers, cinematic artists and lighting and camera, and technical artists, managers, sound designers...” Cinematic is one of the keywords here as Samuels adds he’s “looking to bring more people in from film and TV” to strengthen Supermassive’s approach to development, which borrows a lot from movie tropes. “In terms of storytelling, conveying emotion and surprising the player, that’s where the cinematic style I think really suits what we do,” he says. “We are actively hiring from film school and also experienced people with camera and CG lighting experience in film because we actually want to do that better. “So if we want to get a specific emotion from a specific character across, then how we light that and how we position the camera is really important as is the audio that goes with it. Also, because it’s horror, it really helps to have control of what is on camera and what is off camera to get that feeling, like you would in a movie, of not being quite sure what else is in the room with you, and so building that suspense.” The Dark Pictures Anthology is easily the most ambitious narrative project we’ve heard about in a long time and as the frontier between games, TV and film gets narrower and narrower every day, we can’t wait to see more of what Supermassive is cooking. “Things change so quickly,” Samuels says as we conclude our chat, looking back at over ten years of Supermassive and dreaming about the next decade. “We did some good things in VR that we’re very proud of and that market hasn’t gone the way that we hoped but it hasn’t negatively affected us. In fact it’s only positively affected us. Rush of Blood is still in the PSN charts for VR and it released three years ago. “I’m looking at the future as having a greater breadth of platforms. And probably each with their own unique advantages, both for consumers and for developers like us. Some genres of games are much more mainstream than they were five years ago certainly. “Everybody loves a good story with great characters and interesting relationships and because that’s what we do I think we’re well positioned for a changing market that broadens the audience. So that’s what I see, certainly for as far forward as I can predict, which isn’t very far forward,” he laughs. “We think that the technology, the channels and the growing market is perfect for us and what we do. So we have no plans to change what we do, just evolve it and make it better.”

Pictured above: Pete Samuels, Supermassive’s CEO

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Partnered content

Click Entertainment on ‘meeting the needs of customers in this changing landscape’ Click Entertainment’s purchasing manager Kevin Young talks about the incredible opportunity that gamescom represents in our ever changing industry

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lick Entertainment is very excited to be back at gamescom, it’s one of the most important dates in our trade show calendar. Much like our industry, Click Entertainment has also changed in the last 12 months, we have welcomed new additions to our team and implemented new systems and processes resulting in an even better customer experience. Our dedicated workforce have continued to deliver results, helping our clients source new releases, back catalogue software, and all other related accessories and consoles, at the most competitive prices. So while we have changed and the industry is ever changing and evolving, there are some things that will never differ; our levels of service and the relationships that we have with our customers remain the same – very strong and always a top priority! As part of our strategy to stay connected with our customers we attend all of the key trade shows throughout the year with gamescom being one of the

biggest and one of the most crucial. Our presence this year is especially important because it’s off the back of all the big announcements at E3 so we are expecting gamescom 2019 to be hugely successful in turn. As a result we have our team ready to connect with our customers and find out what they are looking for now and in the coming months, we also have the chance to share our plans for the peak season and beyond. As always, we are very keen to meet existing customers, and have invested in our best stand to date, located in a prominent position within the show – which should hopefully attract that elusive new business! We love gamescom because it gives us this opportunity and the chance to exhibit our company, build new relationships, showcase our ethos and most importantly, see how we can meet the needs of customers in this changing landscape. We welcome all to stop by the stand and see what we have to offer and to explore all opportunities. Click Entertainment is located in Hall 2.1, Stand D-014.

Pictured above: Click Entertainment’s purchasing manager Kevin Young

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Exhibitor guide 2019 Your complete guide to who’s where at this year’s gamescom

COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

HALL 1 EA Swiss SARL

1 1

A010

HALL 2 2P Games 3D Instagraph 5CA International B.V. 9300-2665 Quebec Inc (Thunder Lotus Games) Abysse Corp Admitad GmbH AdTiming ak tronic Software & Services GmbH AMS Neue Medien GmbH ASTRO Gaming - Logitech Europe S.A. Avanquest Deutschland GmbH Basco Inc. Behaviour Interactive Inc. Beta Service GmbH

2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1

C056 E048 A060 C058a D049 D053 D038 E039 C020 D029 A010 C039 A010 C039 C040 A052 A010 C039 D051

COMPANY Bigben Interactive S.A. Bloober Team S.A. Blue Microphone - Logitech Europe S Centounopercento Srl CI Games S.A. Click Entertainment Ltd

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1

A010 C039 D020 E029 A010 C039 C059 A010 C039 D014 E015

CLICK ENTERTAINMENT HALL 2 LEVEL 1 BOOTH NO. D014 E015 Distributor Click Entertainment is ready to connect with existing and new customers at gamescom, and share its plans for the peak season and beyond. You’ll find the team located in Hall 2.1, Stand D-014.

CreditPilot PLC Darfon Electronics Czech s.r.o. Destreamworld OU Dubai Media City

2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1

C065 D041 C065 E049

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HALL 1

COMPANY EBANX S.A. E-CONCEPT SAS Enixan Ukraine LLC Epic Games Inc. Ethoscorp DWC LLC Exquisite Gaming Limited EZ Games/ EZ Cards Distribution, In Fokus Bilgisayar San.Tic.Ltd. Sti. Foshan Unique Furniture Co., Ltd. G2A.COM Sp.z o.o. Gamekit S.A. gamesAHEAD e.V.i.G. Gameye B.V. Giant Network Gravity Media Guangzhou Andaseat Technology Co., Half Moon Bay Ltd. Hatch Entertainment Oy Helpshift, Inc HORI (U.K.) Ltd Imagination S.C. Lukasz Kubiak, Bartosz Moskala INCA Internet Co., Ltd. (corporation) INNO3D Insane Irdeto B.V. Jeton Wallet k3i.Co, Ltd. Kalypso Media Group GmbH Keywords International Link Distribution (UK) Ltd LLC Weplay Merchandise Logitech GmbH Marketpoint GmbH Marvelous Europe Limited MoGi Group Ltd Moloco, Inc.

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

D055 D010 E046 E014 D048 A010 C039 A051 B060 C061 B052 C011 C053 A050 D040 E041 E042 C054a A010 C039 D051a A010 C039 A060 A040 A062 C050 C052a C044 B058 C051 B050 D013 C010 C052 D018 E019 D050 E051 A010 C039 A010 C039 E008 B061 B051

COMPANY MSM.digital NBG EDV Handels- und Verlags GmbH Nero AG Nitrado (marbis GmbH) Nordic Game Supply GmbH Omnyex E Commerce DMCC On Point Panda Network Payssion Phoenix Games Holding GmbH Plantronics Prepaidforge B.V. Progress Distribution GmbH RABCAT Computer Graphics GmbH Rainbow Horse Limited RAM ROM GAMES, S.L. Razer (Europe) GmbH Roccat GmbH Rubber Road Ltd. Sakami Merchandise GmbH Servers.com B.V. Setapp Sp. z.o.o. Shikenso GmbH Sky City Y2K Limited Smartgrip GmbH SMIT ELECTRONIC snakebyte distribution GmbH Staramba SE Sumo Digital Ltd Supernova Capital Symantec Deutschland GmbH Teejay Games Limited Tegway Company Limited Tencent Game Without Borders Tilting Point Media LLC Trust Deutschland GmbH

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

A010 C039 A010 C039 A010 C039 C038 A010 C039 B041 E048 A054 A059 B048 C049 A010 C039 D058 A010 C039 D052 E057 C030 A042 D039 A010 C039 A011 C050a D040 E041 C055 C054 C041 D030 A010 C039 A010 C039 E048 A010 C039 C060 D069 A010 C039 A052 B040 B056 D059 A010 C039

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COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

Turtle Beach Unbabel Lda United Label S.A. Unity Technologies ApS UnityAds UNYQUE GmbH Urus London Limited VRiday Werkmeister & Company GmbH Whisper Interactive (Xiamen) Co., L Xtreme Spa zeuz GmbH

2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1

A010 C039 E040 A010 C039 B059 A058 B059 A058 E031 C051 E048 A010 C039 C058 C042 E010

4players Acer Computer GmbH adspree media gmbh Adyen N.V. Alliance Distributors ally4ever Event GmbH Amazon Web Services AMD International Sales & Service LTD. AOC International (Europe) B.V. Barunson E&A Beiten Burkhardt Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH Bethesda Bezant Foundation Ltd Boffin Language Group Inc. CAPCOM Entertainment Germany GmbH Caseking GmbH Changeling GmbH / Supply Drop CLD Distribution Computec Media GmbH Cool 2U Corsair GmbH Cosmocover SARL Cosmocover SARL Cowana GmbH CyberLink Europe B.V. DataMagic Dell Inc. Destructive Creations J. Zieliński i wspólnicy spółka jawna Difuzed DMARKET Limited DotEmu SAS DTA Affelski i Paplinski sp.j. DXRacer Distribution Europe DXRacer Germany GmbH EASTERN TIMES TECHNOLOGY CO.,LTD Enarxis Dynamic Media Ltd. epay (Transact Elektronische Zahlungssysteme GmbH) Epulze ESPORT MANAGEMENT Factory-C GmbH Factory-C GmbH Factory-C GmbH Fnatic Freaks 4U Gaming GmbH Frontier Developments Plc Fyber N.V. Gaijin Entertainment Galaktus sp. z o.o. GamerLegion GmbH GBG Global Brands Group GIANTS Software Entertainment GmbH GL Entertainment Distributions Limited GL Events Exhibitions Fuarcilik A.S Hadean Supercomputing LTD Happy Worker Toys & Collectibles IFSA Management INSTINCT3 GmbH

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

D048 B020 C029 B020 C029 D049 A042 B020 C029 A020 B029 A060 B069 A060 B069 A060 B069 D048 B020 C029 A060 B069 B044 B020 C029 B020 C029 B035 A011 D048 D059 A060 B069 D039 C030 D028 B020 C029 D057 A052 C059 D020 A021 A046 C046 D018 C060 D061 B040 D041 D010 D040 C069 D060 A060 B069 C060 D061 D060 C060 D061 A060 B069 B020 C029 C051 B049 D020 B020 C029 B058 B020 C029 D027 C053 B057 A044 A056 A060 B069

COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

Intel Corporation UK Ltd. JFI Games Inc. Jinx, Inc. Jöllenbeck GmbH Kingston Technology Europe Co LLP Kolibri Games GmbH LatinDV, Lda Leogaming Level Up! Interactive Ltda LifeXpress/ Medion AG Making Games, Key Players medialounge GmbH MMD Monitors & Displays B.V. Modus Games LLC Nvidia GmbH Overwolf, Ltd Paymentwall, Inc. paysafecard.com Wertkarten Vertriebs GmbH Payvision PDP Pearl Abyss Pole To Win UK Limited Pqube Limited Proxima Beta Pte. Limited Pyramid International QIWI Bank (JSC) RAD Game Tools Inc. SevenOne Media GmbH StarLadder SteelSeries ApS Stillfront Group AB Ströer Media Brands GmbH Studio Surgical Scalpels Sun Technolgies, Inc. Tent Works Interactive Thrustmaster / Guillemot GmbH Utomik Development BV Valve Corporation Versus Evil wa | co mediahouse GmbH Wargaming Europe S.A.S WePlay! Esports Western Digital Deutschland GmbH Wirecard Technologies GmbH Wired Productions Wolcen Studio World International Trading, LLC Xsolla (USA) Inc. Xsolla (USA) Inc. YachtClub Games Yoozoo Games ZEN Studios Ltd. ZOTAC Technology Ltd.

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

C060 D061 B052 C042 C060 D061 B039 A060 B069 C060 D061 D012 A060 B069 A058 D048 B020 C029 A060 B069 A060 B069 B020 C029 D060 B011 A030 D051 A060 B069 C047 D029 C060 D061 C060 D061 A036 C048 C044 B020 C029 A060 B069 D020 C060 D061 C060 D061 D016 B050 D014 B020 C029 A060 B069 A045 A041 B020 C029 D025 C020 C069 D042 B059 C050 C060 D061 D027 A050 B051 A049 B020 C029 C028 A060 B069 A060 B069

HALL 3 2x2 Games (Dvaput dva d.o.o.) 34BigThings 360 KE JI JI TUAN YOU XIAN GONG SI 505 Games Ltd. 9M Interactive Aardvark Swift AESVI Agens AIXLAB Alpha CRC Ltd Altergaze Amber Studio SRL AMC Ro Studio Amiqus Limited Another Coffee Games SL

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

A011 D010 E019 A043 C020 E039 C040 F049 C020 E039 D010 E019 E020 F029 C040 F049 C020 E039 C020 E039 F010 F010 C020 E039 E010 F019

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COMPANY Apprien Armaggeddon Arte Artefacts Studio Auroch Digital Ltd Back to the Game BadFly Interactive, a.s. BadLand Games Publishing, S.L Bastion Battlebrew Productions Beijing ELEX Technology Co., Ltd. Beijing Topjoy Technology Co., Ltd. BEIJING YUNCHANG TECHNOLOGY CO., LT Belong Gaming Arenas (part of Game Retail LTD) bHaptics Inc. Bifrost Entertainment Big Games Machine BigRadar Co., Ltd. Billy Goat Entertainment Ltd (Northern Ireland area) Black River Studios Blade Representaciones SL Boacompra Bohemia Interactive a.s. Bossa Studios Bountie Holdings Pte. Ltd. Brain and Nerd Ltd Go Testify Limited Brazil Games Abragames Brgames Business France ByteDance Capsule Studio Caret Games Catalyst Esports Solutions Pte. Ltd CCCP CGE Digital Changyou.com Limited Changzhou Baiyu Auto Parts Co., Ltd Cheetah Mobile Chengdu pushan technology co. LTD. Cherry Pop Games ChilliConnect City of Helsinki Clan of the Cloud Code Wizards Coffee Box Games (Northern Ireland area) Comboid Labs SL Comercial Bekho Team Game Developme y Compañía Limitada Comercial Leo de Sol SW Limitada Connection Events CONSIGCLEAR LLC Coutts Critical Charm Croatian Chamber of Economy Croteam (Abest d.o.o.) Cupboard Games Limited (Northern Ireland area) Curve Digital Ltd. Czech Game Developers Association Czechinvest Investment & Business Development A state contributory org. subordinate Datascope Recruitment Limited Dead Good PR deltaDNA Ltd Detis Dezign Format Pte Ltd Digital Tales Dirección General de Relaciones Económicas Internacionales Dorado Games Stillfront Dovetail Games

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E020 F029 B020 C025 B012 B023 C020 E039 F030 E059 E010 F019 C020 E039 B020 C025 A043 A043 A043 C020 E039 C040 F049 E020 F029 C020 E039 C040 F049 C020 E039 F059 E010 F019 F031 E059 C020 E039 B020 C025 C020 E039 F059 C040 F049 C015 A043 A028 C040 F049 B020 C025 A026 E059 A043 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 C020 E039 C020 E039 E020 F029 A020 C020 E039 C020 E039 E010 F019

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

C050 C050 A022 B020 C025 C020 E039 E020 F029 A011 A011 C020 E039 C020 E039 E059

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E059 C020 E039 C020 E039 C020 E039 D010 E019 B020 C025 D010 E019 C050 B030 C039 C020 E039 C040 F049

COMPANY Dragonfly Dwarfheim/Pineleaf Studio Dynamight Studios Srl East Games EC Innovations, Inc. Eden Esports Edge Esports Ltd Elektraglide Ltd (T/A Polystream) Eliphant Enterprise Lithuania Enterprise Singapore Esports Gaming League Excalibur Games Exient Exordium Games d.o.o. Flash Esports pte ltd Flux Game Studio Jogos Digitais Ltda Flyball Electronic (Shenzhen) Co., Focus Home Interactive Focus Multimedia Ltd (Fanatical) Forge Reply SRL Fourth Floor Creative Fundacion Exportar - Argentina Future Tech Co.,Ltd. FuturLab Game BCN Game in Lab GameOn Gamepires (Pandora Studio d.o.o.) Gameplan Consulting Gameprosg Pte Ltd GameRefinery Ltd. Gamers.com.mt Games from Québec Games Jobs Direct Games Revolted j.d.o.o. gamescom asia GameSessions GamingMalta Foundation Gazeus Games GENBA Digital GG Insurance Services GlobalStep LLC Gluk Media Go Testify Limited GoldKnights s.r.o. Gravity Co., Ltd. Green Man Gaming Ltd. G-Star 2019 / Korea Association of Game Industry GY Games Henchman & Goon Hi-Rez Studios LTD Hoplon Infotainment ICCgame.com ICE - Agenzia per la promozione all’estero e l’internazionalizzazio delle imprese italiane Ico Partners Ignition Publishing Impunity Esports Pte Ltd IndieConstruction Indonesia Agency for Creative Economy (BEKRAF) Influsion Inc. InnoTechMedia Co.,Ltd. Iron Ward j.d.o.o. I-STAR ELECTRONICS CO.,LTD. Italic Pig Limited IV Productions Jagex Jandisoft Just4Fun SG Pte Ltd

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E020 F029 D010 E019 B012 A040 C049 B030 C039 C020 E039 C020 E039 B020 C025 F040 B020 C025 C020 E039 C020 E039 B030 C039 A011 B020 C025 F059 A040 C049 A010 B011 C020 E039 D010 E019 C020 E039 E059 A040 C049 C020 E039 E010 F019 B012 F040 A011 F059 B020 C025 E020 F029 B030 C039 F030 C020 E039 A011 F016 C020 E039 B030 C039 B030 C039 F059 C020 E039 C020 E039 C020 E039 F040 C020 E039 E059 C040 F049 C020 E039 A031 A043 E020 F029 C020 E039 F059 A043

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

D010 E019 C020 E039 D010 E019 B020 C025 D010 E019 D052 C040 F049 C040 F049 A011 A040 C049 C020 E039 D010 E019 C020 E039 C040 F049 B020 C025

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COMPANY Kaiju Entertainment SL Kemono Games SpA Kibou Entertainment Kokku KOMODOZ (PT. Armin Indokarya Kreati Koolhaus Games Inc. Korea Pavilion (Korea Creative Content Agency) Koukoi Games Oy Lab Cave Apps SL Leia Inc. Little Green Men (Intercorona d.o.o.) LocalizeDirect Ltd LONGTUGame Lost Hoodie Lucid Dreams Studio Ludact Lumen Games Mactus Live Pte Ltd Mad Mimic Interactive Magnetic Arcade Malta Enterprise Corporation Mammossix Co.,Ltd. Manifesto Games Mantisbite Marvelous Europe Limited Megapop Games Merge Games MET Metis Systems S.r.l. Metric Empire MICROIDS Milestone Srl Million Victories Mindiff Technology SL MixedBag Srl MMO Rewards Limited ModSquad, Inc. MONOGRID MUSAI CO., LTD MyRepublic Native Prime nDreams Ltd. Network N Ltd Ngelgames Co., Ltd. NGMaking Niebla Games SpA Nieko Play Northern Ireland Screen Novaquark Novobox Npanigames Inc. NUSOFT Nutaku Publishing Ltd. Octeto Studios SPA Ogury Oktagon Games OLD SKULL GAMES OPEN LAB SRL OPM Response Ltd Orientivity Pte Ltd Outright Games Ltd Paper Cult Payletter Inc. Pebblekick Inc. Perfect World Games Pico Art International Pte Ltd Pixel Reef Pixel Toys Ltd Pixelneat PLAINE IMAGES

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E010 F019 C050 D010 E019 F059 D052 A036 B039 C040 F049 E020 F029 E010 F019 A036 B039 A011 C020 E039 A043 E020 F029 F030 F059 F059 B020 C025 F059 C020 E039 B030 C039 C040 F049 F059 E020 F029 C020 E039 E020 F029 C020 E039 B020 C025 D010 E019 F030 A018 B019 D010 E019 B023 E010 F019 D010 E019 B030 C039 C020 E039 D010 E019 C040 F049 B020 C025 C017 C020 E039 C020 E039 C040 F049 C040 F049 C050 F040 C020 E039 A024 A032 B033 C040 F049 C040 F049 A036 B039 C050 A030 B031 F059 B023 D010 E019 C020 E039 B020 C025 C020 E039 F030 C040 F049 C040 F049 A043 B020 C025 C013 C020 E039 F040 B012

COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

Plastic SCM Codice Software SL Play Finland / Neogames Finland Association Playdigious PlayGiga S.L. PlayMagic Ltd Playstack Ltd Playtra Games Ltd Plexus & Oray Studios Plug In Digital Plutomobile Inc. PT Everidea Interaktif Nusantara PT Gajah Merah Terbang (IESPL) PT Langit Impian PT MassHive Media PT Megaxus Infotech PT Wawa Gemilang Interaktif PT. Agate International PT. Ozysoft Digital Internasional PUGA Studios Purewal and Partners R8 Games Ltd Ragnarok Studios Rain Cup Games SpA Rain Games Reality Games Reality MagiQ Inc. Realityz Reboot (Digitalna Avantura d.o.o.) Red Dot Gift Cards Red Koi Box srls Red Meat Games Inc. Reddentes Sports Renaissance PR Reseaux Gameaddik Inc - PWN Games Resistance Games Resurgence Rewind Play Games RGDA Romanian Game Developers Association Rock Nano Global Rocket Flair Studios Ltd Round Zero Rusto Games Oy Secretlab SG Pte Ltd Seoul Digitech HighSchool (AdverGameKorea) Shanghai Venture Technologies Ltd. Sheer Tianyi Technology LLC Shenzhen 7Road Technology Co.,Ltd. Shenzhen Blackstream Interactive Entertainment Co.Ltd Shenzhen Ouni Technology Co., Ltd Shenzhen Share-Zone Technology Co., Shenzhen Smartmelon Technology Co.,ltd Shenzhen Targetever Technology Co., Shenzhen Yunsu Information Technology Co.,Ltd Shenzhen Feiyu xingkong Technology Co,Ltd. Shiro Games Simple Video Games Singapore Games Guild SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS LIMITED Singapore Sports Hub Singapore Tourism Board SINGTEL INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS P Skillsearch Ltd Skonec Entertainment Co., Ltd. Skyhook Games Studio Ltd Slitherine Software UK Ltd SMACH INVERSION S.L SneakyBox Soap Interactive d.o.o. Sociable Soccer (Tower Studios Ltd) Sold Out

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E010 F019 E020 F029 B013 E010 F019 B030 C039 C020 E039 C020 E039 D052 B010 C011 C040 F049 D052 D052 D052 D052 D052 D052 D052 D052 F059 C020 E039 A036 B039 E020 F029 C050 E020 F029 C020 E039 C040 F049 B023 A011 A036 B039 D010 E019 A036 B039 B020 C025 C020 E039 F030 E020 F029 B020 C025 C020 E039 F010 B020 C025 C020 E039 E020 F029 E020 F029 B020 C025 C040 F049 A033 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 A040 C049 B018 C019 C020 E039 B020 C025 B020 C025 B020 C025 B020 C025 B020 C025 C020 E039 C040 F049 C020 E039 C020 E039 E010 F019 F040 A011 C020 E039 C020 E039

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COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

SOLESEAT (Yangzhou) . Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd Spain Pavilion - Games from Spain (ICEX Spain Trade and Investment) Spearhead Games Stoic entertainment Strelka Games - Belka Srl Studio Evil S.R.L. Studio Gauntlet Suntec Singapore Convention &. Exhi SuperPlanet Sweet Bandits Studios Tag Games Limited Tag of Joy Take Off Takeoff Creative Agency TAUNT Team Jolly Roger Team17

3 2

A040 C049

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

E010 F019 F030 C040 F049 D010 E019 D010 E019 E020 F029 B020 C025 C040 F049 F030 C020 E039 F040 C020 E039 B025 C020 E039 E020 F029 C020 E039

TEAM17 HALL 3 LEVEL 2 BOOTH NO. C020 E039 Are you a passionate individual or team working on a great game? Team17 can help you elevate your title, with the publishing label present at gamescom this year on Ukie’s UK industry stand in Hall 3. With nearly 30 years of experience, Team17 has a long track record of excellence.

Testronic Laboratories Ltd THE GAME BAKERS Theogames Those Awesome Guys Tiny Bytes SpA Tiny Lab Productions Tractor Set Go Twisted Ark UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) Association Ltd. Universally Speaking Ltd. Untold Games srl UrbanWolfGames Vader Entertainment Korea Co., Ltd. Virtual Frontiers Visual Dart Co., Ltd. VisualLight Co.,Ltd VLG Warning Up Whitepot Studios Limited Whyttest SRL (Limited) Wicked Sick Wizard Games Global Limited World Pro Racing Yangzhou Arena Import & Export Co., Yeshcompany YouRun LTD Youtouch Soluciones Tecnológicas Lt yup.gg Zenway Productions

3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2

C020 E039 A014 F059 F010 C050 F040 F010 E020 F029 C020 E039 C020 E039 D010 E019 C040 F049 C040 F049 E020 F029 C040 F049 C040 F049 D010 E019 B021 C020 E039 F010 C020 E039 A040 C049 B030 C039 A040 C049 C040 F049 B030 C039 C050 B020 C025 B020 C025

HALL 4 11 bit studios 2tainment GmbH 4-Real Intermedia GmbH A Juggler’s Tale - GbR mit Bergmann Oberle, Probst & Schön Abrakam Ada Productions adjust GmbH Adshot Aerosoft GmbH AlanCode All in! Games Altagram GmbH

4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1

D071 B041 C044 A011 D020 B040 A051 B060 B051 C060 C021 D030 A051 B060 A011 D020 B061 C070 D071 C021 D030

COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

Anshar Studios APITs Lab App Annie Europe Limited Appeal Studios AppTweak Artifex Mundi Assemble Entertainment GmbH Asteroid Lab Belgian Games – Flanders DC BitPioneers GmbH Black Forest Games GmbH Black Spoon Games BlackShore Blindflug Studios AG BoomByte Games GmbH CARBON STUDIO SP. Z O.O. CD Projekt Red ClockStone Studio ComboStrike GmbH Cortopia Studios Cosmoscope Creative Europe Desk NRW c/o Filmund Medienstiftung NRW Creative Mobile OÜ Cronos Interactive CRYTEK GmbH Cyborn DACS Laboratories GmbH DAE Studios Daedalic Entertainment GmbH Dao Holding GmbH DaoPay GmbH DaRa Innovations GmbH DBloke DCMN GmbH Degoma Games Deloryan Demute Digital Kingdom Sàrl DIMOCO Europe GmbH Onebip S.r.l. DNA Studios Donkey Crew Dutch Games Association Dutch Games Association Dutch Games Association Dutch Games Association Dutch Games Association European Games Group AG EuroVideo Medien GmbH EverdreamSoft Experimental Game GmbH Fast Travel Games Film- und Medienstiftung NRW GmbH Fire Falcom Fishing Cactus game - Verband der deutschen Games-Branche e.V. Game City Vienna (Mice & Men) Game Industry Conference Game Seer VP gamecity: Hamburg / Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft mbH Gameeleon Gameforge AG Gameloft GmbH Games & XR Mitteldeutschland e.V. Games Capital Berlin-Brandenburg c/ Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie games.nrw e.V. Games/Bavaria – WERK1. Bayern GmbH Gameseat GamesMarkt GmbH

4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1

D071 B034 C021 D030 A051 B060 A051 B060 A071 A011 D020 B061 C070 A051 B060 B034 B040 B061 C070 A065 B070 B061 C070 C021 D030 D051 C041 D050 B051 C060 A011 D020 D055 B061 C070

4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1

B031 C040 C021 D030 A051 B060 A011 D020 A051 B060 A011 D020 A051 B060 A011 D020 B051 C060 B051 C060 A031 A051 B060 C021 D030 A065 B070 A065 B070 A051 B060 B061 C070 B051 C060 B061 C070 A071 A065 B070 A061 A066 A060 B064 A011 D020 A011 D020 B061 C070 B041 C044 D051 B031 C040 A051 B060 A051 B060 A011 D020 B051 C060 A071 A021 B030 C031 D040 A051 B060 A011 D020 A011 D020 B041 C044

4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1

C021 D030 B031 C040 A021 B030 B064 A035

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COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

GameUp! Software-/Gamesforum RheinlandPfalz c/o IMG Innovations-Management GmbH GAMEVIL COM2US Europe GmbH Gamigo Advertising GmbH Gaming-Aid e.V. Gamious B.V. Garlic Games UG Gemotions GGE BV GOG Sp. z.o.o. Guillaume Bouckaert Hannoverimpuls GmbH Happy Volcano Hastily Assembled Games Headup Games GmbH & Co. KG Hellion Cat Hochschule Kaiserslautern Hochschule Mainz Humble Bundle Deutschland GmbH IBG Beteiligungsgesellschaft Sachen-Anhalt mgH Iceberg Interactive BV Improvive Imverse Indie Games Poland InnoGames GmbH it media Medienproduktionsgesellschaft mbH Klabater S.A. kr3m. media GmbH Kynoa Lightword Productions GmbH like Charlie Little Chicken Game Company B.V. LMK Landeszetrale für Medien und Kommunikation Rheinland-Pfalz Local Heroes Worldwide B.V. LuGus Studios LuLuLu Entertainment Magix Software GmbH Maratus Mass Creation Matchmade Mattel Inc. media:net berlinbrandenburg e.V. Mediengründerzentrum NRW MGZ GmbH Mediennetzwerk.NRW c/o Mediencluster NRW GmbH MeetToMatch MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft BadenWürttemberg mbH Momo- Pi Mooneye Studios MOTHERSHIP Marketing GmbH Musicrocker Soundfurniture GmbH Neat Corporation Neopica nordmedia Film- und Mediengesellschaft Niedersachsen/Bremen mbH Okomotive GmbH Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg / acagamics e.V. own3d media GmbH OZWE Games Photon Engine GmbH Playata GmbH Poland Polnisches Institut Düsseldorf Prefrontal Cortex PreviewLabs bvba Qualitas Global Rarebyte OG Rebelle Productions remote control productions GmbH

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

A031 C021 D030 A011 D020 A011 D020 A065 B070 B034 A051 B060 A065 B070 C041 D050 A051 B060 B034 A051 B060 B034 A011 D020 A051 B060 A031 A031 C021 D030 B041 C044 A061 A065 B070 B061 C070 A071 C031 D040 B040 B043 C048 B040 B061 C070 B040 A051 B060 A065 B070

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

A031 A065 B070 A051 B060 B061 C070 C021 D030 A051 B060 A071 C021 D030 C021 D030 C021 D030 B031 C040 B031 C040 A065 B070

4 4 4 4 4 4 4

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

B040 B061 C070 C031 D040 C021 D030 B051 C060 D051 A051 B060

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

B034 B061 C070 B041 C044 B051 C060 B061 C070 A011 D020 A011 D020 A071 D071 A071 B041 C044 A051 B060 A065 B070 B051 C060 A051 B060 A011 D020

COMPANY

HALL / LEVEL / BOOTH

Resistance Studio Resolution Games Riot Games Services GmbH Roboto Rockfish Games GmbH S.A.D. GmbH Sachsen-Anhalt Salt Castle Studio GmbH Serious Games Solutions Softdistribution GmbH Somniacs AG Space Walk Stardust Sunnyside Games SARL Survios, Inc. SwissGames/ Pro Helvetia Tactical Adventures Take-Two Interactive GmbH Taylor Wessing Partnerschaftsgesellschaft mbB Team Marty Ten Eyes media The Farm 51 Group SA Tivola Publishing GmbH Toplitz Productions GmbH Totem Warriors Travian Games GmbH Treasure Hunters Triangle Factory Tripwire Interactive United Games GmbH Van Iersel Luchtman Verein FH Technikum WIEN Vertigo Games B.V. Visionme GmbH Vollkorn Games vrbn AG Walkabout Games Whow Games GmbH Wirtschaftskammer Österreich WUNDERPARC YAGER Development GmbH ZDF Digital Medienproduktion GmbH ZENIT GmbH / NRW.Europa

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

A065 B070 D055 A011 D020 D071 A011 D020 A021 B030 B041 C044 B051 C060 C021 D030 B040 B061 C070 C031 D040 B061 C070 B061 C070 D055 B061 C070 A065 B070 C051 D070 C031 D040 C031 D040 B040 D071 A011 D020 B051 C060 B051 C060 A021 B030 B061 C070 A051 B060 A066 B041 C044 A065 B070 B051 C060 A060 B034 B034 B061 C070 A071 C031 D040 B051 C060 C031 D040 A011 D020 A031 B031 C040

astragon Entertainment GmbH BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Germany GmbH Bungie Creative Distribution Ltd. Reef Entertainment Ltd. Deep Silver a division of Koch Media GmbH Deep Silver a division of Koch Media GmbH Facebook Ireland Limited Flashpoint Germany GmbH Forever Entertainment S.A. Game Outlet Europe AB (GOE Distribution) Games Industry Network GAIN UG Gaya Entertainment GmbH Google (Stadia and YouTube Gaming) Google UK Ltd. London Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. Microsoft / Xbox MY.GAMES Nintendo of Europe GmbH Square Enix GmbH TaleWorlds Entertainment THQ Nordic GmbH Ubisoft GmbH Virtuos Holdings Pte. Ltd.

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

B011 C018 A021 B030 A024 A040 B041 D046 D045 A031 B040 A041 B044 B046 D041 D052 D049 A020 A046 A011 B018 D021 B031 D040 B021 D030 D051 A043 B045 D050 A051 C058 A052

Outdoor Area Sony Interactive Entertainment Deutschland GmbH

4

2

A010

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MCV-DAY1-TEAM 17:MCV-DAY1-TEAM 17 12/08/2019 15:48 Page 1


When We Made... Baldur’s Gate

Marie Dealessandri takes a look behind the scenes at the development of 1998 classic Baldur’s Gate with Trent Oster, who discusses working in a team who hadn’t shipped a game before, being outsmarted by AI and building the game’s incredible cast – and yes, that includes talking Minsc and Boo’s dynamic

Pictured above: Bioware co-founder and now Beamdog CEO Trent Oster

BALDUR’S GATE is the game I’ve played the most in my life, the one consistent pillar of my gaming history. There’s a clock constantly ticking in my head, a perpetual countdown to the next time I’ll be playing it. There’s now something reassuring about Baldur’s Gate for me, going back to the Sword Coast is almost therapeutic – I already know who’s going to be in my party (playing Baldur’s Gate without Khalid and Jaheira is not playing Baldur’s Gate), I already know I’m going to lose all my reputation by killing Drizzt to get his scimitars, I already know I’m going to pretend I won’t take the ring of wizardry that’s hidden outside the Friendly Arm Inn (because my brother told me when I was a kid that it’s “cheating” and it stuck with me) but I then won’t be able to resist it. Knowing every nook and cranny of its universe already, you’d think I’d get bored of it after 20 years. But that’s the magic of Baldur’s Gate for me: it doesn’t get old. So when Skybound Games announced a partnership with Beamdog to bring the game to PS4, Xbox One and Switch later this year, I thought this was just the perfect opportunity to look back at what made the classic RPG so memorable. And Beamdog’s CEO and founder Trent Oster sounded like the perfect person to ask, being BioWare’s co-founder and part of the original 1998 Baldur’s Gate development team. “I think first and foremost the key driver was to ensure we could capture the integrity of the Dungeons

& Dragons rules,” he says when asked about the game’s key pillars. ”We understood that the whole system was very complex and that its character and its flavour came from that complexity. So we really wanted to wade into it and implement the rule system in such a way that it would behave as you would expect it to behave in pen and paper D&D sessions. “Part of the driving force as well was to have a plausible and slightly more mature, almost politicallyflavoured, plot. You could argue it’s not that plausible – I mean the guy is essentially trying to create a massive war so he can rise to become the Lord of Murder. But he’s doing it through political machinations. At that point fantasy stories were pretty soft. You were the hero, you did the thing, and in this game it was much more interesting... It’s a political thing, you’re investigating. There was also a strong desire to allow people to play the archetypes that they imagined, that they held high.” This ability to play the game however you want, including as an evil character, is certainly part of the appeal. And then there’s what is, in my opinion, the most important pillar. “I think another part was really having an interesting cast of fun and engaging characters,” Oster says. “The entire cast is actually characters from [Baldur’s Gate’s lead designer] James Ohlen’s pen and paper campaign that he ran – so my business partner Cameron [Tofer,

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Beamdog’s co-founder and former Baldur’s Gate programmer], his character was Minsc and one of the other guys his character was Sarevok and somebody had Edwin and somebody was Shar-Teel... All these characters came out of this pen and paper campaign.” What made those characters engaging is they all had very unique personalities. Slow-witted, sweet but brutal Minsc for instance has to be one of the most memorable characters of the game – alongside his pet hamster Boo of course. “I think one of the big things was coming up with kind of a theme and having every character stick to their core beliefs,” Oster comments when we start chatting about Minsc and how the team made the world and its characters feel alive. “So Minsc is not very smart but he wants to do good. He doesn’t really think through what doing good requires, he just does the obvious thing that he thinks will do good. So he’s almost like an arrow that just go straight after what he sees. He’s really consistent and he’s fun because of that. And there’s always that question of: is Boo a miniature hamster with an incredible intellect that’s directing this character or is the character quite mad? We’ve never really cleared that up,” Oster laughs. I of course immediately ask if he wants to clear that up now, 20 years down the line: “Talking with James [Ohlen], because it’s his story and he kind of controls

it, he never wanted to empirically speak out about it,” Oster starts with a smile. “But I get the feeling he was leaning toward Minsc being a little insane. But I think the big thing is that a lot of the characters were created with flawed statistics. So Khalid is a fighter but his strength is only 12 whereas when you roll a fighter you’re maxing your strength. So Khalid is this fighter but he’s not very strong and that kind of lends a lot to his character and dictates who he is whereas his partner Jaheira is very assertive, very set in her beliefs as to what is right. I think being able to stick consistently with these themes of how the characters view the world and how they behave in that world really added a sense of richness that really hadn’t been done before.”

Pictured above: Nothing says retro PC gaming like a floppy disc-shaped save button, here rendered in lovely shiny gold

LET’S DIAL IT BACK With such a rich cast of potential party members and NPCs, nailing the game’s AI was instrumental. “I’d hesitate to use the term AI when talking about Baldur’s Gate,” Oster laughs. “So Baldur’s Gate script – called BGScript – is kind of a reverse Polish notation and it’s hard. It takes a while for it to make sense but once it starts to make sense you’re able to get it to do actually reasonably advanced things considering it has no math. It can’t do any complex math. It’s essentially a big If-then statement and you just kind of process through it. So the scripts actually became quite

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Pictured right: Jaheira is a good example of what BioWare wanted for the Baldur’s Gate cast: flawed characters who are consistent in how they view the world

complicated to just carry out what we wanted from advanced behaviours. And the funny thing is when we initially built the AI, it was too smart, it just tore the party apart. You’d get down to the bottom of the Nashkel Mines and you’d run into those Kobold commandos and they would target your spellcaster and boom, one turn down your spellcaster is dead, turn two the cleric’s dead... And it just destroyed the party and we were like: ‘Oh wow okay, let’s dial it back!’,” he laughs. “I think the goal was that there were normal combats – where you would engage and it would be a satisfying combat experience. And then there would be more challenging, almost boss-like, fights. The boss fights would be like a puzzle where you had to deconstruct what was happening.” What the team (and the AI) didn’t anticipate is so many players using the undead strategy: summoning lots and lots of skeletons in front of the target to serve as shields, with party members then using ranged weapons from a distance. “I think that’s one of the strategies that we never thought of early on. We didn’t think about how many

people would summon that many undead,” Oster confirms. “I think if I were to go back and rewrite it today I would specifically build an enemy just to take down the ‘army of the dead’ defense – have a cleric that would just turn them all and suddenly they’re on their side,” he sniggers. Another innovation Baldur’s Gate popularised at the time was pausable real-time combat, replacing the more traditional turn-based approach. And if this seems like a given for isometric RPGs now, it certainly wasn’t back in 1998. “I think at the time we were really heavily influenced by Warcraft, we were playing a lot of it and it felt really good,” Oster starts explaining. “But when you threw a party in with the second edition D&D rules it turned into a hairball so fast. Things were happening so quickly you couldn’t really control it. And we got talking about it and the feeling was that by going strictly turn-based it would just slow the gameplay down too much. So we kind of thought about it almost more like an [American] football game where it’s going and then you stop and you make a call, you make a play, and then the game continues on. As long as the game’s flowing well, don’t interrupt it. So that’s really where the pause-in-play came out: it was us trying to keep the game flowing but at the same time trying to allow that additional element of tactics, thinking through your strategy and executing your strategy.”

HOW HARD COULD IT BE? What makes BioWare’s success even more impressive with Baldur’s Gate, even 21 years after its release, is the fact that the team was inexperienced, with most of them having never shipped a game before. Oster worked on the studio’s debut title, Shattered Steel, before joining Baldur’s Gate’s development, making him one of the most experienced team members at the time. “So there were a few of us, two or three, who moved on to help on Baldur’s Gate, who had actually shipped a game,” he recalls with a smile. “But at the same time it was our first game and we had just shipped it and it was radically different technology so we were all just a bunch of farm kids going; ‘Eh, how hard could it be to make a video game?’ and very quickly we were like: ‘Oh my god, it’s so hard!’,” he bursts out laughing.

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On top of this, not only did the team have to build the game, but also its engine. “At the time you didn’t really have a choice, if you wanted to make a game that was different than what was out there, you had to build the engine,” Oster says. “Baldur’s Gate actually grew out of a DirectDraw demo that Microsoft put out. So the very original concept was a game called Battleground Infinity and it was like a Ragnarok of all the various deities coming together for an end of days battle. And that was the rough concept behind it. Lead programmer Scott Greig took the DirectDraw sprite demo for drawing 2D sprites and he basically hacked into it so that you could run a character around and you could have these little AI creatures wandering around. In the demo all you could do was right click them and smite them and then they would die. “So it was a very very primitive demo and when you look back at it it’s pretty staggering how Baldur’s Gate came out of that primitive thing but really the superpower of the Infinity Engine is that it was made by a team who is very Windows-centric, very database and data centric in terms of its approach. I mean historically video games have been made by very technical, hard core, hacker-y teams and this team was much more about data structure and really that’s what Baldur’s Gate does that other games didn’t do at the same period. Baldur’s Gate is throwing around hundreds of thousands of assets. There’s voice files, there’s scripts, there’s items, there’s sprites, there’s all these things that at a time when most games had 2,000 to 3,000 elements, Baldur’s Gate had 100,000 or more. And as a result that kind of data-centric

architecture that everybody focused on at the start really allowed that capability. There was literally no other engine at the time that could have done a game like Baldur’s Gate.”

A HAPPY ACCIDENT Needless to say that Baldur’s Gate was a learning moment for everyone involved, reinforced by its incredible critical and commercial success that lives on even 21 years later. When asked about what he learnt that helped him later on during his career, Oster answers: “I think the key learnings were that data really matters, that you really need to think about how you’re going to say things and how things are going to be accessed. “And I think the other thing is to start with a fairly clear intent of what you want. Understand that you’re never going to know exactly what game you’re building when you start. But if you have an idea of what you want it to be, you can at least make little course corrections on the way there. “One of the other key learnings probably is to aim high. Because sometimes it gets even better than what you think it could be. You have this idea: ‘Oh yeah, it’ll be like this, there will be this character, they’ll say some words, it’ll be fine’. And then, working with [Baldur’s Gate publisher] Interplay at the time, they brought in great voice actors, like Jim Cummings to do Minsc, and the first time we heard those voices in game, our concept of what the game could be grew so much. It was like: ‘Oh wow, rather than being just kind of neat, this could be amazing’.” Overall, Oster wouldn’t change anything if he had to do it all over again, he says. “Considering the team we had, considering the experience we had, I don’t think there’s a lot of things I would change. It was the right approach at the right time with the right people to make it happen. And I don’t know if people really realise how lucky we were to have all of those things kind of fall together at the right time. You had video games moving from 32-bit extended DOS to Windows 95. You had a database background team available to hire in Edmonton. You had an art team that had never made anything before kind of built piecemeal and educated by the School of Hard Knocks: trying to do it, failing, trying to do it again, failing. “There is just so many little pieces that happened to come together at the right moment. I look back at it and if you changed one or two things, the whole game might fail. It’s just one of those amazing happy accidents that actually happened, we were lucky enough to pull it off and make a fun game that 20 years later people still enjoy.”

Pictured left: Minsc and his pet hamster Boo have become an iconic duo, with the fighter always trying to do good without really thinking things through

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Industry Voices

What publishers really want Rob Crossley, PlayStack

MCV gives the industry a platform for its own views in its own words. Do you have a burning hot take for the world of games? Get in touch!

HERE’S a question I didn’t expect: “What game should I make?” I must admit it felt pretty bizarre the first time a game developer put that to me. You’re asking me? I’ve been assessing games for PlayStack for two years and you’d probably be shocked by how many times it’s come up. I’m not arrogant enough (not yet) to assume the meaning behind the question is: “Oh oracle, what game ideas will shape the future?” I’m perfectly aware the question is in fact: “So what game will you actually fund?” The short answer is Pilotwings. The long answer is a little more turbulent. Today, anyone developing a PC and console game for commercial purposes has an entire galaxy of challenges to navigate. The most obvious to everyone is the sheer volume of competition: 30,000 games on Steam, 7,500 on console, more than half a million on mobile. Adding your next project into that ocean of games still presents an opportunity, but with the pervasiveness of digital stores and their infinite shelf space, legacy titles are legitimate competitors. At the time of writing, only six of the 25 best-selling Steam games were released this year. It’s not just their mere presence that’s the challenge, but also how brilliantly they’re managed. Catalogue games are strategically discounted, often quite significantly, especially on PC. For instance Borderlands: The Handsome Collection was recently 95 per cent off and cost around the same as an Americano! Discounts and deals are hardly limited to games that need traction. In February, The Witcher 3, probably one of the greatest games of all time and certainly one of the best-selling, was on offer for less than £10. Meanwhile The Witness, another true landmark of this generation, was recently given away for free

during an Epic Games Store promotion. As an indie publisher selling new IP at an honest premium price, this absolutely terrifies me. I’ve obsessed over these developments for years. The conclusion I always return to is that directly competing with a library of discounted world-class games is a strategy reliant on luck. That is unless you can truly match those standards or have a sizable following. Which is why I’m constantly amazed that, of the 1,620 game pitches I’ve assessed at PlayStack, more than half can be reduced to “recently successful game but with my art assets.” I’d not go as far as to label them clones – they’re not. But they are cover bands. I do look out for games that can directly compete in terms of quality in a cost-effective way, but in my two-year search I’ve found... two. Fortunately that’s not the primary objective here. The games that light my fire more frequently are those that don’t comfortably blend in with today’s libraries. That’s always my answer when devs ask me the question: build something different. It doesn’t need to be profoundly, transformatively, seminally original – and honestly what truly ever is. But it should bring something wonderful to a market that hasn’t seen it before, or at least hasn’t experienced it for a long while. It’s an elementary strategy that’s worked perfectly for 40 years, from Mario Bros to Crazy Taxi to Slay the Spire to Auto Chess to Archero. The audience already knows what it loves, and there’s an archive of games competing for those desires. Give people something they don’t yet know they love. So yeah, Pilotwings. Rob Crossley signs games for PlayStack, a London-based publisher for all players and platforms. His talk at Develop:Brighton 2019 last month offered advice on pitching games.

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Breaking limits

Anisa Sanusi, Limit Break

AT my first games job, there were only four women in a company of about 30 people. In my second job, my company was 300 strong, yet I can still list each woman by memory. At my current job, women make up 18 per cent of the company. This coincidentally closely reflects the larger UK games industry where 19 per cent of the industry workforce are women, compared to the UK average of 45 per cent (Creative Skillset, 2016). While I’m content with my workplace, there is still a lack of women representing senior or leadership roles. Why is this important? I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘representation matters’. Just like how superhero movies inspire children to do good, women role models inspire fresh faces to achieve dream careers. Sure, within our industry we have women with celebrity levels of fame such as Brenda Romero and Amy Henning, but what about closer to home? What about someone you can feasibly reach out to? Outside of technical skills and abilities you’d usually have in your CV, a huge part of climbing the career ladder rests on personal development. There are other skills that we learn while on the job, and if we’re lucky, through a mentor. Skills like communication, negotiation, leadership and networking. In a male-dominated industry like video games, marginalised genders tend to have limited support. If you are among this demographic, the pool of people similar to you is so small to begin with, much less those with experience. I, for one, have gone through some rough days at work, unsure if I was in the wrong, or if management took it too far. I’ve felt alone, not good enough, like I was not doing

enough. I needed someone to give me advice, or guidance. With the advent of social media, it’s easy to scout people you admire but never in your right mind would you commit a social faux pas like sliding into their DMs. There is a hunger from entry and mid-level developers for this network of support. Fogged by imposter syndrome, I sat back and hoped for someone to start something like it. I wished so badly for a bridge between me and a person who could empathise, a person who could help. It took a lot of encouragement from my peers but eventually I went for it. Wishing for a bridge to appear isn’t enough. I’m building that damn bridge and I want people to use it. I named it Limit Break, a mentorship program for underrepresented genders in the games industry. What I’m championing isn’t just diversity, but inclusivity. Mentorship shouldn’t be reserved just for those breaking into the industry. In fact I’d argue those already in the workforce would make the most out of it. Imagine an industry where retention of the gender diverse wasn’t an issue – imagine the kinds of games, stories and experiences we collectively could produce. The world of video games would be a richer one, with games reflecting the layers of all the different audiences we serve. Most of all, it would be a safer industry for those who make it unique and wonderful. Anisa Sanusi is a UI/UX designer at Hutch Games, based in Shoreditch, London. She also runs Limit Break, a mentorship program aimed at entry and mid-level developers of underrepresented genders in the games industry.

“Imagine an industry where retention of the gender diverse wasn’t an issue – imagine the kinds of games, stories and experiences we collectively could produce.”

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The grey market

Grant Hughes, Fanatical

GREY keys are hurting the games industry and at Fanatical, an online store which has always resisted selling anything except officially sourced product, we’re making a stand against them. With many consumers simply looking for the lowest price when it comes to buying a new digital game, grey marketplaces and unscrupulous online retailers are often quick to cash in. Why should you care? Because grey keys are a major factor in driving down the price of a new game. So why are they so cheap? In countries where market economics dictate lower pricing, publishers have to sell their products at the local going rate. Grey key distributors then prey on these markets. They buy up cheap stock, in many cases stripping keys from boxed copies, and they scan them ready for mass digital distribution. These grey keys are then sold cheaply around the world using an extensive network of online retailers and marketplaces. Our customers demand official keys, and they demand that we charge competitive prices. We don’t believe in a race to the bottom, whereas grey key sellers will often drastically undercut legitimate retailers – and each other. All that does is drive down everybody’s profit margin and it adversely affects the entire food chain. Unlike many of our competitors, Fanatical has gone the extra mile to combat grey key resellers. By blocking VPN access of any kind, we’ve put a stop to traders who try to buy products for resale using fake geo-IPs. Fanatical’s bespoke technology platform also has other procedures in place to police the sale of its game keys. Advanced AI algorithms prevent resellers from buying products in bulk, for example if they want to stock up on limitedtime discounts.

Where there’s profit to be made, there are always going to be people who will try to take advantage of pricing loopholes, so we’ve built a loyal customer base who have rejected grey keys. They want the reliability and the peace of mind that they can only get from an official retailer. Many gamers feel this way, but too many people are still blasé about buying grey keys because they’re lured in by the low prices. But these low prices come with risks attached. Grey keys can potentially give customers a frustrating shopping experience, leading to negative sentiments being aimed at the reseller. There are stories of customers being sold keys which were previously used and no longer work, or receiving region-locked keys which won’t operate in the customer’s country. Certain grey key marketplaces even charge customers an extra fee which promises ‘customer support’ if the supplied key doesn’t work. Such is the question mark that hangs over the provenance of resold grey keys. Customers are effectively gambling with their own money. It would have been all too easy for Fanatical to acquire grey keys, or to mix them into our licensed key pool in order to enhance profit. But we don’t condone this behaviour at all. For us, it’s all about offering the best customer service. Education is vital. Ultimately, grey keys put less money in the hands of game developers. These are the people who earn a living by making the games we all want to play tomorrow, and you should never bite the hand that feeds. Grant Hughes is PR and partnerships manager at digital retailer Fanatical, which has sold over 60m game keys to customers in over 200 countries since its launch as Bundle Stars in 2012.

“Grey keys are hurting the games industry. Why should you care? Because grey keys are a major factor in driving down the price of a new game.”

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Shackled to the booth

William Barr, Billy Goat Entertainment

Ask 90 per cent of indie video game developers to describe their greatest fear and they’ll tell you it’s either clowns, creepy Japanese dolls sending them messages on social media or dying alone. However, their second biggest fear will most likely be having to stand awkwardly demoing their game in a loud, imposing convention centre to their peers, press, publishers or, worst of all, the general public. Being trapped for up to 12 hours a day (often for as long as a week!) shackled to a booth you can’t leave (lest you be forced to hastily locate the nearest GameStop to replace a pair of wireless controllers) would be bad enough. But your sole purpose for being there is to willingly allow other human beings to judge your game and, by association, you. It’s horrific, and I haven’t even mentioned the air conditioning that your booth has invariably been positioned under, thus ensuring your sweat is perpetually ice cold. That is, of course, if you have any moisture remaining inside your body as your lips turn to sand paper and your throat dries to resemble the surface of the Sonoran Desert (somewhere you would rather be, in many ways). Then there are the diseases being carried from all four corners of the globe, incubated in the bodies of hapless hosts preparing to shake your hand, touch your stuff and simply respire in a vicinity closer to you than you’d feel comfortable allowing an intimate sexual partner. But I digress. Back to the judgement, because that’s why you’ve spent all this money getting here! Obviously, the build you’ve brought to the show is missing features that

another 15 minutes in the departures lounge would have allowed you to include. Try to look at this positively though: missing features helps craft conversation when you demo your game. It gives everyone that plays the opportunity to continually point out that this really cool feature would be really cool. Questions like: “Is this art final?”, “Where am I supposed to be going?” and “Can I talk to you about our new blockchain platform?” will slowly chip away at whatever confidence and feeling of self-worth you felt you had that morning prior to leaving your suspiciously affordable accommodation in the stabby end of town. Every so often, however, somebody sits down (while you stand, of course, despite your agonising feet) and they like what they see. Their face contorts into something resembling a grin. Their teeth, instruments you are familiar with simply for their ability to crush and tear biological matter for sustenance, become visible. Sometimes, they even produce laughter, and not because they’ve observed some amateurish flaw in your programming but because they are having ‘fun’. This is the worst situation of all: you’ve tricked them, you’ve conned this poor, innocent, impressionable individual into thinking that you are a competent human being with talent and purpose. Have a great show. William Barr (no, not that William Barr) is the director of Billy Goat Entertainment (Hall 3.2, Stand C020 E039). Currently they’re making some game about a guy and a goat screaming called Supermarket Shriek.

“Every so often, however, somebody sits down (while you stand, of course, despite your agonising feet) and they like what they see. Sometimes, they even produce laughter, and not because they’ve observed some amateurish flaw in your programming but because they are having ‘fun’. This is the worst situation of all.”

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The Final Boss Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV with their unique insight

You’ve been with Xbox UK since the beginning. What have been the most surprising changes in the industry and what has stayed unchanged? When I joined the industry in 1999, games were bought on a CD or cartridge and multiplayer gaming took place in the same room. Now games are downloaded or even streamed, receive constant updates to keep them fresh and are played online by millions of people. What hasn’t changed is that people are still united by a shared love of playing games, however those games are played. You came from the music industry. What are the parallels and differences? The parallel is that both the music and the game industries are borne out of people’s desire to be entertained by the thing they are passionate about. In some ways there are parallels in the way digital technology disrupted the music industry business model and the more recent digital disruption in gaming with game downloads and now streaming. The difference is that for many years the music industry felt threatened by its disruption, while the games industry genuinely embraces change and puts the player first. Can the industry possibly change as much over the next five years as it has over the last five? Maybe even more so. Who would have thought five years ago that games would be played across platforms, streamed from the cloud and consumed via a monthly subscription? It feels like the industry is at an inflexion point caused by digital technology broadening the ways games are discovered (via streaming), delivered (via the cloud), consumed (via a subscription service) and refreshed (via digital content updates). The global addressable market opportunity for gaming is vast and projected to grow significantly over the next three years and big tech companies not traditionally associated directly with gaming are entering this space. That increased competition, and changing consumer habits around consumption, are going to be great for the gamer as they will drive even more innovation over the next five years and beyond. It’s such an exciting time to be in the games industry right now and it’s going to be fascinating to see how it continues to develop. With the greatest respect to your current role, what is your dream job? Easy. Centre forward, Tottenham Hotspur. Although the current incumbent is pretty good and will take some displacing.

Harvey Eagle Xbox director for UK and Ireland, Microsoft “I collected Moby from his hotel around 2am and we drove round the deserted streets of London on a sight-seeing tour of all the main landmarks.”

What’s was the most ludicrous single moment of your career to date? Around 1991, in the lead up to signing Moby to the record label I was working for at the time, he flew into London for one of his first visits to the UK. He arrived really late at night but wanted to see the sites of London and the only free time in his schedule was that night. So I collected him from his hotel near Ladbroke Grove around 2am and we drove round the deserted streets of London on a sight-seeing tour of all the main landmarks. I remember being star-struck but wanting to impress him that I knew London inside out without having to consult my trusty A-Z map too often. Do you feel the industry is headed in the right direction? I truly believe developers and hardware engineers are pushing the boundaries all the time – whether that’s Playground Games creating a game with a truly British canvas with a weekly change in seasons or Nintendo designing a dual purpose console. It’s also heartening to see how the industry is evolving and pushing for more inclusivity. To flourish we have to better represent the diversity of our players, whether that’s more women as lead characters, more opportunities for minorities to work in our industry or opening up gaming to more people through innovations such as the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

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Profile for Biz Media Ltd

MCV@gamescom Day One | August 20th 2019  

MCV@gamescom Day One | August 20th 2019