MCV 917 THE WOMEN IN GAMS ISSUE 19.05.17
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Women in Games issue
Top UK recruiters
Whether you need a new job or new staﬀ, heed these wise words from the best UK ﬁrms
Fig: publishing is broken
The crowdfunding site is turning over a new leaf with its mix of rewards and investment
Women in Games 2017
We talk to the ﬁnalists ahead of this year’s Women in Games Awards
35 years of System 3
With Constructor soon to launch we look at the UK’s longest-serving games ﬁrm
Page 5 The Editor • Page 6 On the Radar – the next two weeks • Page 9 Opinion from the industry • Page 40 Margin Makers • Page 42 Big Game releases • Page 48 End Game – community and events May 19 MCV 917 | 03
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“If we want a more diverse workforce, we need to push a greater variety of titles.”
TheEditor Broader strokes MCV has long been a supporter of getting more women into the industry and making sure they get a fair shot. It’s the right thing to do; but it’s not all altruistic. We need women in the industry in order to make the best possible games, games that will appeal to the widest possible audience, be they men or women. Games that will grow our audience and grow the industry with it. MCV has also long been a champion of the big console game, the triple-A smash, the blockbuster of the industry’s output. However, the upfront costs of console gaming can make it something of an enthusiast pursuit – more akin to skiing than streaming the latest Ed Sheeran album. Looking at last year’s top physical releases by topic we have: football, guns and war, more guns and war, lots of guns in a post-apocalypse world, guns and driving, guns and climbing, guns and war again, hacking and crime (plus some guns), more colourful guns and, finally, fast cars. So eight of our Top Ten involve shooting people and while football and driving are certainly enjoyed more widely, they hardly push the envelope. It would be an oversimplification to say these games are simply more attractive to men than women. However, it’s certainly true to say that they are largely targeted at the same market-tested groupings as each other. Yes, there’s more variation further down the charts and the industry as a whole has expanded well beyond this thanks to digital and mobile titles, but the perception of our industry is still predicated largely on those big hits. And most of us work in this industry today because we were inspired by big games. So if we want a more diverse workforce, we need to try harder to push a greater variety of titles into the public eye. As mobile has taught us, reducing friction will increase the breadth of your audience. Gaming’s eventual evolution into a more accessible form – cloud-based, free-to-play, episodic, hardware agnostic etc, etc – should help get our best products to more people, widening our appeal. But we can’t simply rely on technology to deliver that audience into our laps. We need to broaden the appeal of our biggest titles now, and one (entirely free) way we can try to do that is to improve the diversity of those who make them. Doing the right thing doesn’t always sit nicely with making more money, but if we can crack the diversity problem, both in terms of workforce and consumers, then the industry will be set for a double windfall of cash and karma. Seth Barton firstname.lastname@example.org
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MCM Comic Con London May 26th-28th The MCM Comic Con returns to ExCel London at the end of this month to celebrate the very best of modern pop culture. As always, there will be cosplay, comics, video games, merchandise and eSports involved, with several special guests appearing over the course of the weekend, including Pokémon voice actress Veronica Taylor, Rogue One actor Donnie Yen, Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols and Austin Powers’ Verne Troyer. The Yogscast will also be holding an exclusive live game show called Yogs Trek on May 27th. Visit www.mcmcomiccon.com/london for more details
Norwich Gaming Festival May 22nd – June 3rd
Insomnia Ireland June 9th-11th
After its successful debut last year, Insomnia is returning to Ireland next month. Taking place at Kilarney’s National Event Centre, attendees will be able to visit the usual LAN gaming halls, eSports tournaments, exhibition halls plus see plenty of special guests. As well as dedicated VR zones, there will be all manner of Minecraft activities taking place over the three-day show, as well as daily Smash Bros, FIFA 17 and Tekken 7 tournaments.
Held at The Forum, this free, family-friendly gaming show features talks from industry speakers, games showcases and workshops teaching kids how to make games. The main show takes place over half term between May 29th and June 3rd, but the week leading up to it will be full of diﬀerent game-making courses aimed at primary, secondary and sixth form students.
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Victor Vran rocks up at retail May 30th Wired Productions and THQ Nordic are bringing Victor Vran: Overkill Edition to shop shelves. Launching on PS4, Xbox One and PC, it will feature new visual enhancements, four-player online co-op and a 60fps frame rate.
E3 looms June 13th-15th
Rime sails onto shelves May 26th
Tequila Works’ chilled out puzzle platformer gets a physical and digital release on PS4 and Xbox One courtesy of publishers Grey Box and Six Foot. A Switch version will follow later this year, both as a boxed and digital release, though there’s no ﬁrm date for this yet.
Get Even gets GAME
In just under a month, the worldwide gaming industry (and hordes of fans) will descend on Los Angeles for the 23rd edition of E3. New this year is Geoﬀ Keighley’s E3 Coliseum, a two-day event consisting of panels, talks and presentations plus other surprises at The Novo between June 13th-14th. Activision, Bethesda, Gearbox, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Xbox are already conﬁrmed to attend with more guests announcing shortly.
May 26th The boxed version of Bandai Namco’s ﬁrst person mystery thriller launches exclusively at GAME on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Bandai Namco’s UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton called it “the Inception of games” when we spoke to him earlier this year.
If you’d like your product, event or upcoming news to appear in On the Radar, email Katharine on kbyrne@ nbmedia.com
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Caroline Miller - Founder, Indigo Pearl
What a way to make a living...
which does feel more progressive towards women. It might irst a confession: when I started in the industry, be because we are a younger industry that we don’t have back in 1863, I didn’t really think that sexism that long tail of misogynist dinosaurs to deal with. applied to me. I was outspoken and thought that if Perhaps a useful parallel for my time in the industry you could ‘man up’ and work hard, you’d be fine. is to look at the evolution of female characters during the I was wrong. same period. I started around the launch of the first Tomb Maybe it’s hindsight – the most powerful of the senses – or maybe it’s the recent surge in attention on women’s Raider game and, I grant you, it’s taken a lot of iterations but at least she’s finally got a pair of trousers now. careers that’s made me realise that perhaps my younger-self I have witnessed other small steps in the right direction, was a bit naive to the realities of working in a man’s world. The things that hold a woman back in the workplace can like Black Ops 3 featuring a female soldier and EGX be very subtle: it’s not like your day resembles a scene from moving away from booth babes. The demise of the lads’ 9 to 5. It can be exclusion from activities, like golfing for mag culture has also led to games publishers moving away example, or the assumption that you’re the PA, or laughing from using glamour models. It’s been years since someone along with a horrible joke about a female colleague because asked me to hire girls and then have them topless but you don’t want to be ‘that girl’. covered in paint at a All things I can see clearly now party (that was It’s taken a lot of iterations but at least launch are wrong. a no obviously). It’s hard to argue with facts: she’s finally got a pair of trousers now So far so progressive, the gender pay gap in the UK is but I need to add a massive real. Currently the difference between average pay for male caveat out of respect for all the women in games in the and female full-time employees is 9.4 per cent, and that has public eye – due to the pure hostility that gets sent to them improved very little in the last five years. In fact, Deloitte online. It is completely disgusting. It is unacceptable and estimates that it will be 2069 before that closes. And ain’t must be challenged by our industry. I honestly don’t know nobody got time for that. how these women cope, and I fear it will drive some very Recent data from Creative Skillset makes bleak reading capable individuals away from making and talking about as well, with only 19 per cent of the workforce being female games. That will be a great loss to our industry. in comparison to the UK average of 45 per cent. Women In conclusion, there has been progress, but it’s not are especially under-represented in both technical and enough and there is still a long way to go. As an industry, management roles. And 45 per cent of women questioned we need to do more, because diversity is good for everyone: by NextGenSkills feel their gender is holding them back. men, women and of course the gamers themselves. All of which shows there is much work to be done Events like the Women in Games Awards can only be a before women are fairly represented across all disciplines. good thing. An acknowledgement of all the kick-ass female On a more positive note, my experience of other leaders in our industry and the promise of more to come. industries makes me grateful to be working in games, And we’re all allowed to wear trousers.
Caroline Miller founded Indigo Pearl in 2000 after working in-house for Virgin Interactive and Crave. Indigo Pearl has won the MCV Award for best agency three years in a row May 19 MCV 917 | 09
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Debbie Bestwick MBE - CEO, Team17
We’ve come a long way
am really honoured to write this piece for MCV about If you’re not sure what you’d like to do within the the Women in Games Awards. I have been involved industry, or want to get more experience, then QA is a with the awards previously in all aspects, from fantastic place to start. It’s a great foot in the door, can nominating female peers I respect to helping with the widen your understanding of the different roles within the judging process and even collecting a few awards myself. industry and doesn’t require specific qualifications. Here It was amazing to be recognised with the Hall of Fame we look for passionate gamers with a keen eye for detail award at the European Women in Games Conference a couple and good grasp of written and verbal communication. QA of years ago. It’s great to see Women in Games championing is where a lot of our staff started their careers with Team17, the efforts that women in our industry are doing every day. with many having now gone on to varied roles elsewhere When I started working in games almost 30 years ago within the company. the industry was very much a boys’ club, however I’ve seen At Team17 we don’t see gender, we have a shared that evolve over the years and there are now more women vision which transcends that and instead we are entirely who make games, write about games and make decisions at about talent and the individual. Our industry is so all levels within our industry. creative and diverse, it’s a The games industry has become a level playing field where it The games industry has become a more diverse and comes down to passion more diverse and inclusive place all inclusive place and it’s brilliant and talent. We always to see more women in prominent positions. select the best person for the job, regardless of gender I can mention so many influential women within our or ethnicity. The only thing that can hold someone back industry but a few examples are Siobhan from Media from being the right candidate would be their own lack of Molecule, Jo from UKIE, and Caroline from Indigo Pearl drive or ability. who are all fantastic role models and are helping make a With rapidly improving technology that is more widely difference in the UK. available and the growing importance of STEM within I often get asked how to get into the industry as a education from a younger age, we’re already starting to see woman, and my advice does not change. There’s no tailored a more equal split coming through the education system response or mysterious magic art that relates to a woman with a developed interest in gaming and the understanding only, my advice for anyone looking to get into the games that if interested, there are many career paths involved with industry is exactly the same; it’s universal. video games to take. Different jobs within the industry obviously require Since starting my own career, there are many more women different skills. If you’re looking to be a programmer then in visible roles and hopefully others now see the industry we look to those with a maths degree or equivalent and for as diverse and inclusive. I look forward to welcoming more design roles we look for a natural creative, playful mindset. talent and seeing what future visionaries create.
Debbie Bestwick MBE is CEO of the award-winning developer and games label, Team17, which hosts the Worms franchise, Yooka-Laylee, Overcooked, The Escapists, Aven Colony and many, many more 10 | MCV 917 May 19
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Marie-Claire Isaaman - CEO, Women in Games
Homegrown has to be the future
rexit means Brexit. That’s the mantra endlessly games or wider technology. Indeed, the number of girls repeated by Government. And whatever learning technology subjects fell by 12 per cent in 2015. your opinion, barring an electoral upset of Visiting schools, I’ve found many girls are not even aware unimaginable proportions next month, the UK games is a viable career path. This is less the fault of teachers will be exiting the EU in 2019. How we leave is uncertain than of the schools themselves. But it has a knock-on effect but the fact we’re leaving is not. As this becomes clearer, to colleges and universities, where the number of girls how UK game companies access talent post-Brexit is now applying to technology subjects is much fewer than boys. a major concern. Freedom of movement has enabled the At college and university, problems continue. Courses are friction-free employment of skilled European workers often extremely male – both in staff and students – and the in the game sector for decades. Its impending expiration curricula reflect this. Consequently, girls can find it difficult makes such concern understandable. to express themselves fully. Also, college or university But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is a solution: management doesn’t usually prioritise or support achieving grow our own talent. There are thousands of smart, creative gender balance in cohorts or departments. Obviously there young people across the United Kingdom who would love are great people throughout education working to create to work in our games industry. The problem is, we’re not exceptions, but such exceptions must become the norm. always effective at helping them So far, research into the do so. Particularly if they are Companies must eliminate conscious pipeline has been limited, female. The games sector is the superficial, fractured and and unconscious bias in hiring most gender imbalanced of all flawed. To implement our creative media industries. meaningful change we need And that means we’re squandering female talent with a better understanding of the problems. That’s why I’m alarming profligacy – just when we need it most. working on new research that investigates the effects gender So, what can we do? Well, it’s not all about industry. inequality in the pipeline has on the competitiveness of the Clearly we need to ensure the games industry becomes UK games industry. Research has consistently found that somewhere talented girls want to be, then do more to a lack of diversity negatively affects competitiveness in the retain them once they arrive. Game companies must wider creative sector. And that rings true to me. If we’re eliminate conscious and unconscious bias in hiring, address not harnessing the talent of 50 per cent of the population, workplace discrimination, gendered pay gaps and a lack of we’re missing a trick. And with so much uncertainty on women in senior positions. As CEO of Women in Games, I the horizon, we can’t afford to do that. We need to stop work with companies to address these issues and things are squandering female talent and entrepreneurial spirit. We (slowly) getting better. But there’s another problem. need to nurture all the creativity that resides within our The talent pipeline is leaking. The leaks start in school shores to help our games sector be as competitive and then continue through to college and university. At school, resilient as possible. We need to start growing our own girls are not sufficiently encouraged to follow careers in talent, better. It’s in all our interests.
Marie-Claire Isaaman is CEO of Women in Games (WIGJ), an NPO that works to address gender imbalance, inequality and lack of diversity in the games industry. She also works as a games educational consultant and researcher May 19 MCV 917 | 11
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FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT : Adriana Pucciano, Grace Carroll, Jasmine Kanuga, Alex Moyet, Kim Newsome, Kate Clavin, Jess Hider, Alessia Nigretti, Hannah McMillan, Chantal Beaumont, Erin Oâ€™Brien, Katie Goode, Jodie Azhar, Claire Sharkey
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Women in Games
oday marks our third Women in Games Awards, where MCV, Develop and eSports Pro celebrate the successes and achievements of women in the UK games industry. While the number of women playing and working in games has never been higher, there are still numerous issues that need to be tackled. According to a recent IGDA report, our workforce is still only 22 per cent female compared to the 45 per cent UK average, and 45 per cent of respondents from Next Gen Skills Academy’s 2016 gender balance research survey felt like their gender was a limiting factor in their career. Indeed, one of our finalists, Megan Garrett, said she was even quizzed about her appearance during a job interview at a “well-known publisher” and that her “looks and gender were the main attraction” rather than her skills. Fortunately, the experience didn’t put her off getting another job in games, but it shows even today there are enduring prejudices that put women on the back foot. Who better to address these problems, then, than our own Women in Games Awards shortlist? While the number of answers we received could have filled multiple issues of MCV, here’s what they had to say about dealing with misogyny, both inside and outside of the industry, whether games should directly appeal to women, and if putting more women in more senior roles will naturally lead to better titles. GATE CRASHERS The past three years have done plenty to highlight the amount of harassment women in games face today, but according to our finalists, it’s actually the industry’s general apathy about maintaining the status quo that poses the bigger hurdle.
As MCV celebrates its third Women in Games Awards, Katharine Byrne speaks to the finalists about their experiences and issues with the industry
“Outright misogyny is a lot easier to identify and it can be directly dealt with. It’s a lot harder to fight the things that feel normal to the majority,” says Jodie Azhar, lead technical artist at Creative Assembly. “Most agree it’s a good idea to have more women in the industry, but if it doesn’t directly affect them they often don’t notice issues that make it difficult for women to feel equal, let alone act on those issues to help move forward.” Sally Blake, associate producer at Ubisoft’s Reflections, agrees, saying the lack of diversity “is rarely malicious” but is easily overlooked by developers – thoughts that are echoed by the director of Maker Space at The University of Salford Dr. Maria Stukoff: “Cultural transformation is one of the hardest quests in games right now,” says Stukoff. “If I ever hear again, ‘no women applied’ or ‘no women came forward as a speaker’ I will explode. I mean pick up the effing phone. Ever heard of Ukie, TIGA, WIGJ or NGSA to name few? Work with your recruiters to do better. I stick two fingers up to apathy.” Corsegames’ producer María Díez Huerta, however, has found that many women simply aren’t even aware that the industry’s open to them and that there’s “a false belief that [women] aren’t worthy, or a fear of disapproval from their family and friends.” She continues: “Unfortunately, I’ve felt that when it comes down to business or executive positions, there’s outright misogyny. It seems male aggressiveness is considered an asset and those who have it are more suitable for the roles. They want ‘sharks’, not women that can get pregnant someday or already have kids.” This doesn’t seem to be the case in all disciplines, however, as Creative Assembly’s environment artist Olivia Butler-Stroud has found the industry “values talent and hard work above all else. An artist with a strong portfolio will mean you’re more likely to find work, regardless of your age, gender or ethnicity.”
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“The hardest part of searching for equality is not finding it but maintaining it.” However, as University of Sussex student Alessia Nigretti argues, companies also need to make sure they don’t end up positively discriminating against men. “In the past people told me I passed an interview or a competition ‘just because I’m a woman’ and ‘I represent a minority.’ Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a good balance between equality and over-inclusion. The hardest part of searching for equality is not finding it but maintaining it and not allowing it to get to the point of overcoming the other sex.” THE BLAME GAME Of course, misogyny isn’t just an internal industry issue, as certain sections of the wider community are sadly just as toxic. However, while some of our finalists feel like the industry should take more responsibility for their fans, there’s no clear answer on how they should go about it. One thing they do agree on, though, is that ignoring the problem definitely won’t make it go away, with Freejam’s 3D artist Hannah McMillan arguing “it discourages both female gamers and women working in the industry itself ” as it makes them feel “unsafe.” “It’s difficult to expect the industry to be responsible for every idiot on the internet,” says Michelle Tilley, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s senior release manager. “However, I think there’s a social responsibility that should be expected and built by our industry, which could be some sort of framework that supports what our values are. It would be great if we could see a campaign, championed by our industry and media leaders, that is focused on speaking out about misogyny in the industry and help take action.” Indeed, both Dingit.TV’s brands and community manager Claire Sharkey and Kinmoku’s Lucy Blundell, highlight the actions of BioWare’s Aaryn Flynn as being Headline Partner
Livestream and Award Partner
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Breakthrough Talent Partner
Rising Star Partner
a positive example of what to do when co-workers come under attack, after an animator on Mass Effect: Andromeda was targeted by the gaming community. “Actions like this really help,” says Blundell. “Our industry should always be willing to speak out against sexism and misogyny, no matter how small.” Sharkey adds: “The gaming industry needs to support the people that help it exist. There’s never an excuse to not acknowledge and publicly stamp out actions or comments that serve no good.” Kimberley Turner, finance director at Double 11, agrees: “If you are curating a space or community for fans and it is co-opted for hate and aggression, then it’s absolutely the industry’s responsibility to find out why and how this culture is allowed to flourish.” Creative Assembly’s lead animator Adriana Pucciano is of the same opinion, saying that harsher rules and consequences in forums “will begin the shift in mentality to make offenders realise that [outwardly misogynist] comments are not okay.” To put it in plainer terms, Stukoff looks to football. “Imagine a football match full of hooligans without the football club getting involved in banning known troublemakers,” she says. “Football would be called ‘cage fighting’ or worse.” To help improve the situation, The Imaginarium Studios’ lead animator Yasmine Altawell says having more women at events like E3 and Gamescom would be “a step in the right direction.” She adds: “We see a lot of producers and community managers, but what about all the other [disciplines]? If it were more widely known that women have more direct involvement in games, those that are more inclined to be sexist and abusive would have less ammunition to fire with.” ROOT OF THE MATTER For many, however, the issue is more deeply ingrained in society as a whole, with Grads in Games graduate talent specialist Rachel Cabot saying that while the industry “can limit misogyny in games,” the real problem lies in our “broader culture.” Event Partner
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That’s partly because there’s a pervading stigma that games are still very much a “boy’s club” according to Véronique Lallier, GM of Europe at Hi-Rez Studios, and it’s only when that social messaging is undone, in the words of Turner, that any progress can be made. “It all starts at home, by breaking the taboo that games are for men only and that they aren’t a serious career choice,” says Díez Huerta. Tanya Laird, CEO at Digital Jam, goes further, saying the most important thing is to give girls the same kind of choices as boys when they’re young: “Consoles tend to be male dominated devices within the home versus a tablet or mobile device. Encouraging parents to share their devices equally is a good starting point.” Indeed, the women who did have access to gaming consoles as a child tell us it had a huge influence on their current career paths. Nigretti, for instance, says playing Tomb Raider with her mother was “definitely the making of a power team,” while Epic Games’ European community manager for Unreal Engine Jess Hider recalls several hours playing
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT : Megan Garrett, Natalie Griffith, Lucy Blundell, María Díez Huerta, Kimberley Turner, Lizi Attwood, Kitty Crawford, Lisa Burgers, Olivia Butler-Stroud, Lulu Zhang, Michelle Tilley, Rebecca-Louise Leybourne, Rosa Carbó-Mascarell
and ow at
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Indeed, visibility remains a constant problem, both at events and in the media, says Tilley: “When I was young, most of my gaming industry heroes were male and this was largely due to who was being interviewed, who was featured in the games magazines I was reading. There just wasn’t a heavy focus on women.” Stukoff concurs: “Headlines such as ‘Horizon’s female lead character made Sony worried’ really doesn’t convey confidence in championing female stories or characters. We need to see more female mentors, and more realworld representation of opportunities that inspire engagement with younger audiences.”
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT : Roz Tuplin, Sally Blake, Sian Knight, Maria Stukoff
The Legend of Zelda and Banjo-Kazooie with her father. “If it wasn’t for the hours I spent playing games with my dad, I wouldn’t be in the industry now,” says Hider. Getting girls into games early is only half the battle, though, as Press Space’s CEO Natalie Griffith states “the real problem is that we struggle to keep [girls] engaged as they grow up. Unless we encourage a more diverse range of content, and, more importantly, put the marketing support behind amplifying the great stuff that’s already being created, then they will continue to drift away as they head into their teens.” ESL and Multiplay’s Jasmine Kanuga, agrees, saying that “exposure of more games on television and online” would help raise awareness, and that including games in media and IT courses at schools would “provide greater insight into the world of gaming and its capabilities.” As a result, reaching out to teachers with constructive careers advice is equally important, Triangular Pixels’ creative director Katie Goode tells us: “My team and I recently did a careers day at the local secondary school in Bude, Cornwall. So many of the teachers – as well as the pupils – were completely blown away about the possibility of becoming a game developer and had no idea how to guide students down that path.” Progress is already being made in this area, such as Gram Games’ 22% Project, which offers workshops around design, development, culture and business, says the studio’s culture developer Erin O’Brien: “Many of these skills aren’t ones that are automatically offered in a generic educational environment, which is why Gram wanted to provide a space for these to be learnt, so in the long run women can be competitive in the industry.” Lizi Attwood, Furious Bee’s technical director, says she also likes to attend as many school career days as she can as “the most important thing I can do is to be visible.”
WORKING TOGETHER For many of our finalists, however, simply putting more women in senior roles isn’t necessarily the answer to creating more engaging games. As much as they can “expand the collective knowledge,” says Altawell, Games London’s business development administrator Roz Tuplin argues that women also “have a ton of habits to unlearn in terms of the narratives we create and images we draw on. It’s more about people of any gender being emboldened to create different stories and images that will adjust the way the next generation creates.” Indeed, for Chantal Beaumont, head of graphic design at Sumo Digital, “sense and sensitivity is what’s important, not gender specifically,” with Turner adding that “when roles are filled by diverse voices, the end result is a lot more honest and appealing.” Ahzar adds: “Putting women onto a team isn’t going to automatically mean you have good female characters. What we want as players is the option to play games where we can relate to the character and encounter experiences that resonate with us, rather than put up with straight, white, male characters [as] heroes.” Pucciano agrees, saying “we need more diversity in upper management as well as women who are able to sign off on fundamental decisions on game direction.” For Kim Newsome, founder and editor-in-chief at eSports Source, however, there are some skills that only women can bring to the table: “Just hire women. I can’t say that enough. Hire women and you don’t have to ask questions about what women want. We will tell you.” Likewise, Megan Garrett, Sega Europe’s digital distribution assistant, says having more female producers would provide “further suggestions of what women would like to see in games rather than just assumptions of what they like and could open doors to positive female character creation.” LEADING LADIES A trickier issue to unpick is whether companies should actively do more to make titles more appealing to women.
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While many said games shouldn’t go down this route, with freelance character designer and animator Kate Clavin saying real equality shouldn’t be “false or fabricated,” having more female characters in lead roles would certainly be “a huge plus” according to Nigretti when it comes to encouraging women to buy more titles. For Newsome, Overwatch is already doing an excellent job in this respect. “People want to play as characters they can relate to,” she says. “I definitely see more of myself in a 30-something scientist-adventurer like Overwatch’s Mei, thus leading me to want to at least try the game. Showing women as heroes is important as it can help shape future world views and interactions.” Likewise, Grace Carroll, Creative Assembly’s social media manager, remembers she was “beyond excited” when Pokémon Gold and Silver let her play as a girl, and that “seeing a space for [women] within the game world” was hugely beneficial. Similarly, Clavin says games with strong female leads like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn has definitely led her to “see a difference in women’s pride over the game industry.” Indeed, Kitty Crawford, Blackstaff Games’ producer, says keeping women in mind when designing games is crucial. “There’s no successful project that’s ever been created without having [a particular] audience in mind in some way. Game devs need to ask themselves whether it’s just for men, or if women could enjoy it too.” Blundell agrees: “Beginning to see female/feminine as an opportunity to create something diverse is a good start.” However, Lulu Zhang, lead concept artist at Creative Assembly, warns that while “good employees in the right positions can improve the overall quality of games, they cannot [win] more female consumers if the original core of a game doesn’t contain anything attractive to women” – something that’s easier to add later on compared to hiring a senior female employee who can shape a game’s direction, she reckons. Beaumont argues, however, that “girls like a romping adventure as much as boys do,” so making games specifically for women “seems to revert to a ‘pink for girls, blue for boys’ mentality [that’s] counter productive.” Creative Industries Federation’s digital content officer Rosa Carbó-Mascarell feels the same but adds “there’s something very visceral about going through the hero’s journey in the skin of someone like you. I’m still waiting to experience this.” A lack of general awareness is also a key problem, says Rebecca-Louise Leybourne, facial animator at The Imaginarium Studios: “Girls and young women just don’t think [games] are being made for them. We’re seeing some amazing female leads in huge successful triple-A games but I still feel even they’re designed to appeal more to a male audience.” Likewise, Sian Knight, a games design student at the University of Central Lancashire, says she enjoys “games
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that are ‘for men’ such as Call of Duty or Halo” but recognises more could be done to raise awareness of these male-orientated games among women: “[Advertisers] need to recognize that their target audience isn’t all men and that a lot of women play their games, too.” Creative Assembly’s level designer Lisa Burgers adds: “Women may prefer to play as a female main character, but so might a lot of men. It’s all about giving options. If women-centric magazines featured games, it would help raise the profile of the medium.” GAME PLAN There’s clearly still much to be done, then, but generally our finalists are optimistic about the current direction of the industry, even with the looming shadow of Brexit on the horizon. Indeed, if any of our shortlist got into No.10, there’s no shortage of plans they’d put into place. Cabot would “regulate or dismantle market collusion over binary-gendered toys within the toys industry” to break down social norms, while Clavin would “get programming and design into schools.” Hider, meanwhile, would “encourage the mainstream media to show the depth and diversity of games” produced by the industry, and Turner would ensure the video games tax relief is still in place post-Brexit. Alex Moyet, founder and director at Amcade, however, would put a stop to Brexit altogether – as would many of our other finalists. “The UK games industry would be nothing without the contributions of amazing international talent from EU countries,” Moyet argues, and Carroll agrees, concluding: “It’s great how diverse companies in the UK are, and I’d hate to see us lose that. Top talent is a premium in the industry, and one that we definitely want to hang on to.”
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT : Tanya Laird, Véronique Lallier, Yasmine Altawell, Rachel Cabot
The top recruiters in the UK Landing the perfect job, or finding great new staff, can be tricky. Marie Dealessandri talks to the top UK recruitment agencies. From Brexit to diversity, they discuss the big issues and reveal how they match the brightest talent to the best roles around
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“We aim to go far beyond the role of a typical agency.” Ian Goodall
Aardvark Swift AARDVARK SWIFT needs no introduction. Having been around for almost 30 years, the Rotherham-based recruitment agency has worked with some of the biggest names in games. “We’ve grown a massive database of talented candidates, but we also placed many people who now run and manage studios in their first jobs,” MD Ian Goodall tells MCV. “Recruiters need to be experts in their field and continually adapt their methods to the changing market. We’ve been doing that for almost 30 years, so we’re quite well-practiced,” he smiles. Speaking of evolutions, Goodall has noticed an increase in calls for “skilled technical and VFX artists” as of late, while “the number of roles related to physical releases” has seen a “massive reduction.” He also notes that finding talent post-Brexit could be tricky: “The talent pool for publishing is shallow; we make many PR and marketing placements with people from France, Spain and Italy. Once this pipeline is cut off, these professionals are less likely than developers to get a visa to allow them to move here.” That’s why Aardvark is continuously on the hunt for new talent: “We aim to go far beyond the role of a typical recruitment agency,” he says. “We [take] an active involvement in our industry; our Grads In Games initiative and Search For A Star competitions not only improve links between academia and industry, but also shine a light on the best student developers, putting them in front of studios who would otherwise struggle to find the same calibre of graduates.” Aardvark is also aware that external recruiters are at the forefront of making the games industry more diverse: “We’re dedicated to doing our part and encouraging diversity across the industry as a whole. We’ve teamed up with the Women in Game Awards to create the Breakthrough Talent Award, which highlights talented women who’ve just taken their first steps in the industry,” Goodall explains. “We’ve also written a number of features examining gender and sexuality within games and the industry, and actively sourced female role models during our Get in the Game tour which visits over 60 UK universities. We’re leading the way in ensuring the future of our industry is sustainable and prosperous, and encouraging as many studios as we can to get involved along the way.”
Location: Rotherham, South Yorkshire Headcount: 20 Clients: Sony, Activision Blizzard, Rockstar, Playground Games, Square Enix, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sumo Digital and Pokémon and more Key contact: Varies on the requirements of the client. Info about each consultant can be found on Aardvark Swift’s website. MD Ian Goodall would be the person to contact if unsure, email@example.com Key data: Aardvark Swift’s database of candidates includes 4,000 artists, 6,500 programmers, 2,000 graduates and 6,500 consumer professionals (marketing, localization, PR, QA, sales) Website: www.aswift.com
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Pictured from left to right: Daniel Mortell, Eamonn Vann-Harris, Emma Victoria
Avatar Games Location: Media City, Salford Headcount: 8 Clients: Outplay, Digit, Rocksteady, Codemasters, Wooga, EA, Nordeus, Playground Games, Radiant Worlds and more Key contacts for employers: MD Eamonn Vann-Harris firstname.lastname@example.org Director of services Daniel Mortell email@example.com Key contact for candidates: For candidates related to console, Eamonn Vann-Harris; for candidates related to F2P, mobile, social & online platforms, head of games recruitment Emma Victoria, firstname.lastname@example.org Key data: Approximately 175+ positions filled last year across a number of areas Website: www.avatar-games.co.uk
AVATAR GAMES’ MD Eamonn Vann-Harris believes the role of recruitment agencies is to support and represent clients as if they were in-house. “Something our clients love is our flexibility when delivering a recruitment solution. Almost all our recruitment is bespoke and we deliver genuine custom solutions that are built around the client, their budget, time frame and hiring needs,” he tells MCV. “Many of our clients see Avatar as a natural extension to their brand, a company that they can trust, that will work professionally in giving the best advice, solutions and possible outcomes for the client recruitment needs.” He continues: “Understanding the industry, understanding each client and providing a genuine solution to in-house recruiters can be achieved. In-house recruiters generally need support and will call upon the aid of a recruiter that they trust will represent their brand in the right way, whilst also providing solid candidate experience and submissions of high quality people who will add genuinely value to that studio.” Avatar Games has over 2,000 open vacancies worldwide at any time, Vann-Harris says, adding that the company is always looking for “artists, programmers, producers, designers, marketing, user acquisition and monetisation, animators, HR, QA and much more.” Recently, he’s noticed an important increase on free-to-play and mobile recruitment, and it “continues to grow,” but he’s aware that the games industry is not an easy one to join. “The truth is the games industry can be difficult to get into, and this is because there are so many talented individuals who all want to be in the industry. It’s something that is born within us from our childhood and into adulthood – we all want to be a part of the games industry,” Vann-Harris reckons. He advises candidates willing to join the industry to always “go the extra mile,” adding: “It’s important to judge people on their skills, experience and their potential. No matter what walk of life someone has taken, if you can do the job and care about what you do and the people around you then you deserve a chance.”
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E e © 1984 Dav El Eli Elit a id d Brab aben & Ian an Bel Bell. Fr ronti ontier er © 199 1993 3 Dav David vi Braben, e Fron en ontier on ier r: First F Enco counte ters te rs © 1995 5 David Da Braben and Elite Dangerous © 1984 - 2017 Frontier Developments Plc. A righ Al All rights right ts reser se ved. e ‘Elite’,, tth he Elite te lo ogo, th the e Elite t Dangerou rous ous logo, logo, ‘Fro ‘ ntie er’ and the Frontier logo are registered trademarks of Frontier Developments plc. Elite Da ange ngerou ou Horizo ous: ons and and Elite Dangerous: Arena are trademarks of Frontier Developments plc. All rights reserved.
Ad Template.indd 1
Pictured left to right: Alan Dixon, Liam Durkan, Liz Prince and Stig Strand
Amiqus Location: Warrington, Cheshire Headcount: 13 Clients: Games studios, publishers and service providers Key contacts for employers: Business manager Liz Prince email@example.com sales manager Stig Strand firstname.lastname@example.org lead consultant Alan Dixon email@example.com contracts manager Simon Pittam firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01925 839700 Key contact for candidates: The whole team is multi-disciplined. For senior hires, contact Stig Strand or Alan Dixon; for contractors, get in touch with Simon Pittam or Liam Durkan email@example.com Key data: Filled vacancies in 2016 across programming, art/animation, Q.A, design, commercial, production, audio, and leadership in 15 countries
AMIQUS has been providing recruitment services for over 17 years, with one goal in mind: “Finding the candidates that no one else can attract,” business manager Liz Prince tells MCV. “We are totally focused on quality. Recruitment is about being able to provide the best access to the candidate market globally and then being skilled enough to attract great talent to the roles. “We invest time in constantly building our network, tools and systems to allow us to not only identify a wider candidate pool than others but we invest in our people to ensure they have the skills to attract them to the right opportunity.” Building a network is at the core of Amiqus’ business, as the firm’s ethos is “to focus on relationships,” Prince says. “This year we have continued to evolve our business model to further deepen our level of customer engagement. This has led to a significant increase in exclusive business, allowing studios to get on with developing games while we take care of recruitment. We hire across all levels but the core need in the industry is for those candidates who bring knowledge, skills and experience to the studio. Where Amiqus makes the greatest commercial difference is in attracting practiced games professionals who can hit the ground running and bring great games to market fast.” Amiqus is also keen on promoting and encouraging diversity in the games industry, Prince continues: “We are hugely committed to diversity and inclusion in the industry and are about to launch a powerful new initiative to directly address the lack of women employed in games development. This will be a long-term endeavour for us alongside our day-to-day vigilance in representing the full spectrum of candidate diversity.”
“We invest in our people to ensure they have the skills to attract them to the right opportunity.” 22 | MCV 917 May 19
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“We reduce the risk for companies looking for new staff.” Pictured left to right: Harry Vlahakis, Will Shaw
CV Bay HAVING launched in 2006, Birmingham-based CV Bay specialises in the gaming and IT market across Europe, working with both large and small studios. “Our ethos is that ‘honesty will win business’,” director Harry Vlahakis tells us. “This has proven to be right time and again with over 90 per cent of clients we deal with coming back to us. We feel our core values align with our clients in that we always put the customer first and know that everyone can make a difference.” He continues: “We offer the full range of recruitment services whether it be contingency, contract/temporary or search. Recruitment agencies give clients time, we do all the hard work in finding the candidates who match the criteria set by the clients including skills, personality and team fit. We reduce the risk for companies looking for new staff.” Between the increasing role of social media and the wealth of internal recruiters, Vlahakis believes recruitment agencies still have an important role to play. “In everything there is opportunity. We support internal recruiters in what they do, finding the candidates that they find it difficult to find. Social media helps what recruiters do, you just need to know how to use it,” he says. “Also, candidates like using recruiters in their job search because we support them in the process and are able to ask the difficult questions as well as negotiate on their behalf.” Vlahakis reckons that the games industry is “one of the most exciting industries to work within” due to its “huge variety of roles and projects.” He adds: “What’s being produced now is truly mind blowing. The demand has continued to grow with mobile and VR progressing. Console is still very popular with the need to recruit developers increasing. The emerging markets have made an impact as well. “Gaming companies remain very selective in who they recruit. It’s certainly not only just the right skills but the person. A lot of importance is put on the team fit.”
Location: Digbeth, Central Birmingham Headcount: 11 Key contacts for employers: Director Harry Vlahakis firstname.lastname@example.org and head of games Will Shaw email@example.com Key contact for candidates: Will Shaw Website: www.cvbay.co.uk
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Pictured left to right: Adam Sibson, Julien Hofer, Lucy Philips, Mahyar Shami, Malsara Thorne, Michael Barrett
Datascope Location: London Headcount: 11 Clients: Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Sega, Wargaming, Frontier Key contacts for employers: Director Malsara Thorne firstname.lastname@example.org Key contact for candidates: Head of design Lucy Phillips email@example.com senior art and animation consultant Michael Barrett firstname.lastname@example.org head of sales and marketing recruitment, Adam Sibson email@example.com sales and marketing recruitment consultant (international) Mahyar Shami firstname.lastname@example.org MD and head of programming Julien Hofer email@example.com Key data: 25 years in recruitment, four main areas (programming, design, art & animation and sales & marketing) Website: www.datascope.co.uk
FOR Datascope’s director Malsara Thorne, there is no doubt: the UK games industry needs recruitment agencies, as they play an essential role finding the industry’s next big names in a fast moving market. “If a company wants a competitive edge, it needs to tap into the unique database of a specialist agency,” she says. “We have been around for nearly 25 years and in that time we have developed a comprehensive database of candidates from within the games industry who we keep in touch with on a regular basis. “It’s the relationships we have built with our candidates by consultants who have been with us for several years that makes us uniquely placed to recruit hard-to-find candidates.” She continues, pointing out the recent shifts of the industry: “One of the major changes in the last few years in the commercial sector has been the focus on qualitative as well as quantitative analytics. With the focus shifting to mobile games the need for user acquisition people with analytics has increased to such an extent that demand far outstrips supply now. “We have found similar changes taking place with designers. Lucy, our head of design, has seen an increased demand for designers with specialist knowledge in certain areas, for example free-to-play systems designers, narrative designers, technical level designers, and so on. This reflects an increasingly complex and mature approach to games design, with those with the ability to combine technical ability and creative flair being the highest in demand.” The challenge of finding these candidates, however, could become even harder with Brexit, but Thorne believes the industry needs to work together to emerge triumphant. “The UK must be seen to be welcoming to foreigners; otherwise we may not be in a position to attract the best talent for UK jobs,” she says. “So promising to issue visas for programmers, for example, helps. But we need more. If the wrong perception is there, then the UK will suffer. We will continue to find great jobs for talented people and find talented people for great jobs in Europe and worldwide. Let’s hope the UK keeps its share.”
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G A M E S
*Correct at time of going to press
FIRST FOR SIMULATIONS
Boxed Version RRP £14.99 Available Late May 2017 Steam Score 86% Approval Rating* Compatibility HTC Vive & Oculus Rift Tel: +44 (0)1869 338833 www.contact-sales.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Best actual V R game I’ve ever played. So mu ch fun, you n eed to get this! C raft Keep ha s knocked it ou t of the park. Turps, Yogsca
Tel: +44 (0)1274 684 668 www.linkdistribution-uk.com email@example.com
“Online networks are viable recruitment platforms.” Pictured left to right: Daniel Fox and Kim Parker Adcock
OPM Response Location: Colchester, Essex Headcount: 15 Clients: Currently working on active vacancies for 90+ games companies around the world. Clients range from small indie startups to world-wide publishers Key contacts for employers: Managing director Kim Parker Adcock, firstname.lastname@example.org Key contacts for candidates: Senior recruitment consultant Daniel Fox, email@example.com Key data: 60 per cent of placements last year were in the UK, while 40 per cent were with games companies from the rest of the world Website: www.opmjobs.com
HAVING been in the games industry since 1992, Kim Parker Adcock created OPM Response in 1998 and now prides herself on being the head of a recruitment company with a database of “just under 30,000 games industry candidates,” she tells MCV. With over 450 live vacancies across all sectors with the industry, OPM is one of the big names in the sector, so Parker Adcock has plenty of tips for jobseekers: “Network at trade events, create a good online presence, remain persistent, and download our guide to finding a job in the games industry, of course.” Networking at events is at the core of OPM’s business, and the industry in general, Parker Adcock explains: “We mainly use events to form partnerships with new studios and catch up with our current clients. Job fairs can be useful and we do sometimes find work for people we’ve met at events like this. So often [students] come out of university and have no idea where to start. We like to at least give them a push in the right direction.” She continues: “We like to advise everyone we can to give them the best chance of finding a job, even if it’s not us that finds them the position. Skills shortages are still, and seemingly always will be, a problem. We have 11 members of staff that dedicate their working day to finding rare candidates that our clients are looking for, and in a lot of cases can’t find themselves.” Bucking the general trend, Parker Adcock believes that the shift to social media to recruit is not a bad thing: “Companies are finding it easier to hire core staff since online networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter became viable recruitment platforms. This is saving them time and money,” she exlpains. OPM also takes diversity seriously, with Parker Adcock revealing the firm had to “turn down clients that have asked that we only send men for management roles.” She adds: “This tends to happen in countries where laws and public opinion need big advancements compared to our own. Closer to home, we advise clients with job adverts that break diversity laws in the UK or Europe, but we don’t have to do this as much as we did five to ten years ago.”
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Pictured left to right: Giles Fenwick, Guy DeRosa, Alex Lunn, Jack Reid, Joe McKernan, Katie Jones
Skillsearch SKILLSEARCH is “the friendly face of recruitment,” team manager and Unity specialist Giles Fenwick immediately tells MCV. “[We are] heavily embedded in the games industry and not just bystanders. Our consultants are very active in the community and you will regularly see us at conferences, meet-ups and game jams.” Skillsearch is particularly well-known for its work in VR, having been one of the first agencies to specialise in this area. “Skillsearch has always enjoyed having a key focus on areas that maybe some other recruiters don’t cover as widely,” Fenwick continues. “We started this with a focus on Unity six years ago when others were mainly looking at C++ positions and now carry that on with our extensive work on VR over the last three years.” The firm doesn’t just cover niche areas, either, as it also invests a lot of time promoting industry diversity. “We have been conducting lectures at universities for the last six years,” Fenwick explains. “It has been really encouraging to see the demographics of these groups become more diverse over this time. There is obviously still some work to go as most studios are heavily male dominated, but we hope the discussions that are happening now will move this forward even further. As a company, we are currently in conversations with an organisation about hosting a Women in VR meet-up and are always looking for ways to support events helping any underrepresented groups in the community.” Fenwick also reckons that going out and meeting the industry is “the most important part” of his business: “The games industry is a tight knit community. If you want to succeed as a successful recruiter, you must know the people you are working with to really be able to give a good service. Events and job fairs are the best places to do this, whether it’s meeting new people or enjoying a beer with someone you already know. “We continue to make these events a priority and attend a large majority as well as hosting and sponsoring our own events. Recently, we were key sponsors of the VR World Congress and our event Play@Develop grows year upon year. We will soon be announcing this year’s partner and expect it to be the biggest event yet, surpassing the 350 people that attended last year.”
Location: Brighton Headcount: 14 Clients: Triple-A studios to small indies as well as nongames companies specialising in VR, AR and Mixed Reality; companies across Europe, North America and Asia. Key contacts for employers: Team manager and Unity specialist Giles Fenwick firstname.lastname@example.org and business development manager Guy DeRosa email@example.com Key contacts for candidates: Arts consultants – Alex Lunn and Tim Jeffree, animation and VFX – Joe McKernan, Unity development – Katie Jones, Unreal/C++ development – Stefan Kasanin, production and design – Jack Reid, marketing/ PR – Henry Henley, key account managers – Maria Mistrangelo and Oli Nichol Key data: 235 positions filled last year: 109 permanent, 126 freelancers positions; 129 were international and 106 in the UK Website: www.skillsearch.com
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SONY: “Be passionate, work hard, play games, aim high” SIEE’s recruitment advisor & HR assistant Katy McCann and studio talent manager Kat Mosson give MCV more details about the recruitment process at PlayStation UK
How many positions are you looking to fill in at the moment and in which departments? Katy McCann: We have around 45 to 50 positions available at present. We recruit across all disciplines: marketing, digital, engineers, artists, programmers, developers and QA. How have recruitment needs evolved at Sony? McCann: We’ve seen a real shift in the market from the more traditional physical game format to digital, so a digital skills set is incredibly important. Kat Mosson: The overarching needs remain the same for London Studio: to hire the best. Regardless of technology, languages or genre, we continue to create high quality products whilst always looking ahead. VR is a whole new universe, hiring bright, creative, passionate and innovative people and providing them with the tools and technology to succeed will always remain the same. Pictured from top to bottom: Kat Mosson and Katy McCann
Do you take on interns? McCann: Yes, particularly within our research and development department. Interns are generally on a sandwich placement from university. They get to work on exciting projects such as developing apps for the PlayStation, coding and working alongside our third party developers.
Are internships increasingly key to securing first roles? McCann: We base hiring decisions on the skills and experience that an applicant has, whether this is from a placement year or internships or from other positions they have previously held. Internships aren’t key to hiring decisions but the experience they provide can be beneficial. Within games development there are a variety of ways to gain experience outside of an internship such as mod-making, game jams, hackathons or even working on your own games. What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a career in the games industry? Mosson: Be passionate, work hard, play games, aim high, be adaptable and always strive to be the best you can be. Gain as much practical experience as you can, understand your industry, research developers, publishers, middleware, tools – knowledge is power. Sell yourself in the best way and show off what you can do. Remember to only ever include your best work. How will Brexit affect recruitment in the UK? McCann: PlayStation Jobs is an international website and we encourage anyone with the required skill set to apply for any role. In terms of Brexit, it is business as usual. We welcome anyone to apply. We also offer relocation support to people joining us from abroad.
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our expertise: your development
Lead Artist, Canada
Senior PR Manager, Reading
$100-125,000 plus relocation and work permit
Have you thought about moving abroad? This independent game studio in Canada is now searching for an experienced individual to join their senior team and be responsible for leading a group of world class artists. You will be joining this team in the early stages of their new project as they turn their new IP into a reality. firstname.lastname@example.org
This highly successful publisher and developer is seeking an experienced Senior PR Manager to lead on AAA and other title PR efforts across the full media mix as well as running events and coordinating closely with the brand and marketing team. This role is a great opportunity to work with a growing company as it builds its team. email@example.com
European Marketing Manager, Paris — Major F2P Title
Lead Project Manager, London
€60,000 plus benefits This is a terrific opportunity to work for one of the biggest F2P titles loved by millions around the World. We are looking for a marketing lead to development and execute the European marketing plan for this incredible franchise. Responsible for a multi-million pound budget, you will develop key marketing initiatives to drive acquisition and retention. If you are experienced in F2P marketing and have managerial abilities then we would love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Up to £100K + share options + extensive benefits We are currently working with a pioneering technology firm who are at the cutting edge of research. The company is looking for an experienced PM to join their team. The PM will enable and support the team, ensuring operational obstacles are overcome, solutions are defined and the potential of each team member is maximised. An enquiring mind is essential and stellar academic success would be attractive! email@example.com
Games, Online and Mobile Technology Recruitment New website at datascope.co.uk
+44 (0) 20 7580 6018
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‘I thought publishing was broken’ Fig’s hybrid rewards and investment platform is growing fast, raising $8.7m (£6.75) in 2016 alone. Katharine Byrne speaks with the crowd-funder’s CEO Justin Bailey
hen we think of industry-defining games, titles like Super Mario Bros., Tetris and Grand Theft Auto V immediately come to mind. No list would be complete, however, without the inclusion of Double Fine Adventure, the game that would eventually go on to be known as Broken Age and be responsible for, quite literally, kick-starting the industry’s newfound obsession with crowdfunding platforms. Having been rejected by publishers left, right and centre, Broken Age’s runaway success was a clear warning shot to the game companies of its day, suggesting not only that publishers are out of touch with current consumer demands, but that they might not be needed at all. Of course, not all crowdfunded games have seen the same kind of results as Double Fine’s trailblazer, but it proved to the company’s then COO Justin Bailey that something was indeed rotten in the state of game publishing. So in 2015 he left the studio to found his own crowdfunding platform, Fig, a venture that would see traditional rewards-based crowdfunding sit side-by-side with equity investment and the opportunity to get a return on a game once it released. “I thought publishing was broken and wasn’t taking advantage of the new business models and technology quickly enough,” says Bailey. “Fundamentally, I don’t think publishing has changed in the last 40 years. Sure, there have been companies that have evolved how we play, like Zynga with shorter experiences, and there have been companies that pioneered the different media we play on, like King, but publishing really hasn’t evolved. It’s the same process of
evaluating titles behind closed doors, and then developing them in a vacuum for years and hoping that you have a hit on your hands. Coming out of that process, as you would expect, are a lot of big budget sequels that iterate on existing IP. “What Fig is doing instead is building a path for developers to get feedback and support from consumers directly, which we believe will result in fresh and creatively interesting games. It seemed obvious to me that the way publishers were running things was a net negative, and we needed to change that – if people are going to make decisions off consumer behaviour, then we should get these great ideas in front of a large number of consumers. And once a game is greenlit, we should get the money into the creatives’ hands and get out of their way – much like VCs do for companies and founders that they believe in.” For Bailey, however, it wasn’t just publishing that needed fixing. He also thought crowdfunding as a whole was fundamentally flawed. “The crowdfunding equation is broken, or more accurately, incomplete. It gives a way for creators to get money from their fans. That’s cool, but ultimately unsustainable in the long run. That’s fairly apparent in how video game crowdfunding has decreased over the last three years. “The missing piece, and equalising force, is the opportunity for fans to get money from creators – because even though people may get tired of charity, they will never get tired of getting returns. Since this method of funding allows creators to stay in creative control and retain IP ownership, there’s a lot of incentive to make it a repeatable process.”
“Crowdfunding’s cool... but ultimately unsustainable in the long run.”
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SHARED RESPONSIBILITY The price per share varies from title to title. When Double Fine launched its campaign for Psychonauts 2, for example, shares cost $500 each, with the maximum total being capped at $3m. For InXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 3, on the other hand, shares cost $1,000 each and were capped at a maximum offer of $1.25m. That might sound a lot compared to your typical $20 crowdfunding pledge, but Bailey says its investors cover the full spectrum of traditional backers. “First, [investors] are people who used to participate at the $500 and higher ‘experiential’ reward tiers. Participation in video games for those tiers [on other platforms] has gone way down. There was even some confusion at first about whether giving that money through crowdfunding actually constituted an investment. Another group, though, is people who used
DESPITE hosting some of the biggest crowdfunding successes of last year, there were some titles in Fig’s 2016 offering that simply didn’t make it, including Harmonix Music Systems’ campaign for a PC version of Rock Band 4 and the Rock Band Network. Despite raising an impressive $792,817 (£615,187), it only reached 52 per cent of its $1.5m goal. So what went wrong? “With Rock Band PC, we had a heat map on the FAQ section and the question about transferring libraries was lit up bright as the sun – everyone coming to the page hit that question.
The answer was ‘no’,” Fig CEO Justin Bailey explains. “Music licensing is extremely complicated. We came to find out that these passionate fans clamouring for a PC version had thousands of dollars built up in their console libraries. So we and the developer got that valuable feedback before development funds had been invested. In theory, the developer could take that to rethink the product or decide not to move forward. I think it’s very much a commercially viable game, but tapping into the existing community was not the right way to fund it.”
to just contribute at the base level, but were unwilling to donate more. Through investment crowdfunding, that group can now get a return, so they are now willing to contribute more as an investment since they have an opportunity to get that money back.” Surprisingly, Bailey says the only type of backer Fig hasn’t seen is someone investing for the sole purpose of making a return. “Primarily, everyone we’ve talked to has participated in investing because they want first-and-foremost to support a game,” he says. Regardless of how much shares cost, though, what backers are actually investing in remains the same. Rather than investing in the studio or game itself, backers invest in Fig and receive Fig Game Shares for the title in question. This then pays distributions based on Fig’s right to the title’s sales receipts under its publishing licence agreement with the developer – a point Fig makes extremely clear with each and every campaign it runs so backers are fully aware of the facts. “Developers need to be more transparent on timelines, budgets, and who their partners are,” says Bailey. “There’s been a lot of goodwill that’s been lost in crowdfunding instances where a community finds out after-the-fact that there was a publisher or other partner who had a financial stake behind the scenes, or that the campaign goal wasn’t actually the money the developer needed to complete the game. Or the reverse, which we’re seeing a lot of lately, where developers say they need money, but actually are just using crowdfunding for promotional purposes. In short, there’s been exploitation, and it’s been to the detriment of everyone. “Investment requires more transparency and accountability, and I think it’s just what the ecosystem needs to regain its balance and to expand. Just telling people what the actual budget is, being transparent about who the partners are, the stage of development, and the use of funds, will go a long way to rebuilding that goodwill.” CROWD PLEASER Transparency isn’t the only issue affecting today’s crowdfunding market, however, as several platforms – Kickstarter included – experienced their first year of decline in 2016 after years of rapid growth and expansion. Fortunately for Fig, its investment structure means it’s better prepared than most to face the market’s upcoming challenges. “The backer numbers across all platforms have shown a steep decline over the last few years,” he explains. “If you look at Banner Saga as opposed to Banner Saga 3, the latest campaign only saw around 40 per cent the number of backers of the first one in 2012. But the
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Sans titre-1 1
“Everyone who’s passionate... should have an opportunity to invest, not just the richest one per cent.”
Pictured right: InXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 3 is being funded through Fig at $1,000 per share
Pitch perfect – a marketing dream? FIG offers a range of services to developers, from publishing and distribution to marketing and PR, so we asked CEO Justin Bailey what he looks for in a developer’s game pitch. “First and foremost, we’re looking for people who can deliver a game to the specs they are proposing,” he says. “After that, we look for quality and for fresh ideas. We don’t spend too much time evaluating the content, as we want the community to ultimately decide which titles succeed. “To that end, we are evaluating ways we might be able to use Backstage Pass [where private campaigns go to a small subset of people first, to get feedback] so the community is taking a more active role in deciding which projects go live.” Developers don’t necessarily need to partner with Fig for the long haul, either, with Bailey saying “they definitely pick and choose” rather than
opt in for everything. Indeed, despite being funded on Kickstarter, it was Fig that organised the digital marketing campaign for Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter, which produced excellent results given its $1,500 spend. “[This] is how I expected it would play out,” Bailey says. “I do think that as we prove ourselves across all our different publishing capabilities, developers will start to opt in to more services, and my hope is that eventually they can just make their games and ask us to handle the rest. “The data we gather from the crowdfunding campaign is invaluable to our marketing efforts when a game launches. We haven’t had a chance yet to see a 1-1 correlation, but we used this approach essentially with Hyper Light Drifter and saw close to a 700 per cent return. If we can deliver even close to the ROI [on other games] it could be very beneficial for all involved.”
difference we’ve found has been made up in the larger numbers of people who are willing to contribute through investment. This was the case with Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire getting more money pledged than Pillars did in 2012 even with about 45 per cent of the backers.” Pillars of Eternity II is particularly significant for Fig. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, whose CEO Feargus Urquhart also sits on Fig’s advisory board, the game has not only become the platform’s highest-funded title so far, reaching over $4.4m (or over $4.5m – £3.5m – if you count Fig’s slacker backer pledges that can be made after the end of the campaign), but Bailey also tells us it’s had more pledges to date than all the 2017 video game campaigns on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo combined. “It was the largest video game campaign since Shenmue launched at Sony’s E3 press conference at the height of crowdfunding in 2015,” he says. Investors might have helped bulk up the numbers for Pillars of Eternity II, but just under half of its $4.4m was still generated by traditional rewards-based pledges – a split Bailey says is actually pretty typical across all of its hosted projects. “[At first] I thought it would heavily favour investment, so I was very surprised that people were fine just continuing to participate in rewards-only, so that
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now we are seeing investment and rewards on roughly a 50/50 basis in some instances.” In the long term, though, Bailey sees rewards-based crowdfunding becoming an increasingly difficult place to raise funds: “For video games, reward-only seems to be in trouble and likely not sustainable in the long run. Other verticals, like board games, I can see continuing and even growing, but there are several different dynamics at play given they are essentially fulfilment and pre-order campaigns for completed products. “Video games are very different beasts. They change, it’s an iterative process, and backers get involved sometimes years in advance. When people are willing to do that, I think they should have the option to get involved financially through investment crowdfunding.” VESTED INTEREST With just under two years on the market, it’s still early days for Fig, but Bailey has already taken significant steps to help further his vision of an investment-led crowdfunding future. In this year alone, Fig has already raised $7.84m (£6.1m) from its first round of venture capital financing – which will “add more publishing functions” and “finance our efforts to expand how we
involve the crowd into our curation process,” Bailey tells us – and it’s also announced the Fig Finishing Fund. Running from now until the end of the year, Fig’s Finishing Fund comprises of up to $500,000 to help developers overcome those final hurdles in the run-up to launch, such as marketing and localisation costs as well as help with fees for publishing platforms like Steam Direct. The latter in particular is sure to win it even more fans and admirers as the year goes on, especially with Valve hinting it might cost as much as $5,000 to use. Ultimately, however, Bailey’s number one goal is to make investment-based crowdfunding accessible to everyone, giving all fans the chance to make a return on the games they want to support. “I feel very strongly that everyone who’s passionate about supporting a developer should have an opportunity to invest, not just the richest one per cent,” Bailey says. “We’re seeing interest in investment growing, and that’s just among the earlier adopters. Once we’re able to do more campaigns and demonstrate the full life cycle [of a project], I think that will increase. Once we’re able to get our share prices down to say $50 and include a free copy of the game, I could see that switch I expected to occur from reward to investment.”
Visit us today at: WWW.GREENMANGAMING.COM STORE | CONTENT | COMMUNITY
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SYSTEM 3 AT
Mark Cale has been the face of System 3 since its inception. We caught up with him to talk about Britain’s longest-running games publisher
How did System 3 get started? I was always a fan of video games and started first playing games in the 70’s on my Atari 2600 as well as the very first arcades. Space Invaders had a massive influence on me – after all, I was the European Space Invaders champion at 14. Of course, all my teachers told me to stop wasting my time with computer games, but I was hooked. Leaving school, I became a photographer’s assistant. However, the passion of games continued and after working on some photography work for Atari’s UK office I was adamant I was going to be part of this new industry. So, in 1982 after speaking with two other friends that had the same passion, we set up a games company. One friend was at college working on a computer course called System Studies, so as there were three of us it made sense to call our company ‘System 3’. I got involved with the scene, and met some incredible coders, artists and musicians, many of which we still work with today. We wanted to be the best, creating the most original and loved IP in a time that felt much like the wild west where anyone could strike gold. Luckily, it was only a few years after inception that we did, time and time again. What have been the business’ highlights over the years? There are so many highlights, from Last Ninja and International Karate – the first European game to top the US Billboard at number one – Putty, IK+, Silent Bomber,
Guilty Gear, Impossible Mission, Myth and many more. More recently, games like Ferrari Challenge, Putty Squad, Pinball Arcade and the upcoming reimagining of Constructor, have brought many challenges but also many successes. While the world has shrunk in our time, the market has grown massively, and we’ve enjoyed success at retail and digitally, from South America to Japan, and from the US to Australia. We’ve been very lucky to have been so successful, but that’s down to the incredible creators we’ve worked with. Whenever we bring something to market, internally developed or produced, we have to ensure its quality, and that’s something we’ve strived to do in the last 35 years. What do you attribute the company’s enduring success to? Honestly, without people like [head of development] John Twiddy, [original Constructor devs] Joe Walker, Dan Malone, Phil Thorton and Robin Levy, I don’t think we’d have enjoyed the kind of success we have for so long. While many people think of Mark Cale when they hear the name System 3, there are so many talented people behind System 3 that I simply couldn’t do what I do without them. It’s a testament to the people we have at System 3 that we’re still mixing it with the best in 2017. After 35 years in the business, what’s changed the most...? Although the obvious statement would be the change
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Rebuilding - the return of Constructor
in technology, to think we originally took orders on a telex machine, then faxes, mobile phones... It all changes. We’re the last remaining independent publisher and developer remaining from the golden era of video games. That’s amazing to me. There’s also a lot more power resting with the developer these days, and that’s a good thing. The role of a publisher has changed dramatically, and although we’re still described as a young business, we really aren’t. Rapidly changing distribution and retailing models are a challenge, as is digital discovery and community marketing. You have to get so many things right these days, but we’re enjoying every minute. ...And what’s stayed the same? While sadly a few of the old guard aren’t with us any longer, it’s reassuring to see so many of the faces I grew up with as masters of their own destiny, or leading companies that really strive for creativity in product. I really do believe that while Britain was once a pioneer in video game development, that the talent is still here; there’s just a lot more competition. What are the biggest challenges for publishers in 2017? While the internet has opened so many options for us, it also presents a challenge. We don’t work with big social agencies, because we prefer to talk directly to our audiences. And it’s really paying off.
Why was now the right time to bring back Constructor? We have so many fans asking for us to re-release or remake games. Constructor was a huge success, and sales of the original were incredible, selling over 5m units. It inspired so many developers with its original design, classic British wit, and addictive gameplay, that we started considering it a few years ago.
Do you expect to attract new players as well as fans? We’re seeing fans tag their friends on Facebook, people who used to love Constructor, but more than this, we’re seeing people recommend the game to their friends, talking about the fun they had, and how other people would love the game. It’s humbling, and fantastic, and we see community and word of mouth as a key part of our campaign.
How have you balanced the need to update it with a desire to keep it recognisable? That’s a very difficult proposition, it’s the age-old concern of how you keep fans happy, yet still bring something new to the table. Graphically, we’ve made a host of improvements, but stylistically, it has a very similar feel to the original. In terms of gameplay, that’s very similar, but new technology allows us to do so many new things, like online play, add a town editor and so much more. It really does offer a modern take on a much-loved classic.
How well has the humour of the first game translated to the remake? Humour is often something lacking in video games, but the original made a name for itself with its razor-sharp wit. We’ve tried to keep that, and expand on it. We spent days in the recording studio with multiple voice actors, making sure the humour was right. We’ve taken the original trailer voiceover artist and actor, John Challis (Only Fools and Horses’ Boycee), and worked with him to get the in-game voice acting just right. That’s where the laughs began, and we took that from the studio and across the whole game.
I read everything that people say about our products, and we do our best to deliver what the gamer wants. The challenge is in keeping them happy; a public that has an appetite for our games, but perhaps doesn’t understand the development, funding and manufacturing challenge of today’s industry. We’re working all the time to make sure we have a great conversation with our fans. What annoys you most about the gaming business in 2017? Digital is a growing business, but I get annoyed at those signalling the death of retail. According to most of them, retail should have died years ago, and yet it still accounts for around 70 per cent of the video games business globally. People like our partners, Koch, and other great companies, such as Sold Out and Maximum Games; they’re all great firms that believe in retail as much as digital, while for the big publishers, retail is an essential part of their business that they don’t see going away.
The remake of classic title Constructor is (ﬁnally) being released on May 26th on PS4, Xbox One and PC
“Digital is a growing business, but I get annoyed at those signalling the death of retail.”
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gaming merchandise uk
INDIE GAMES With the wealth of indie games invading UK retail recently, Marie Dealessandri decided it was time to have a look at what’s new on the merchandise side of it
Stardew Valley logo keychain Chuckleﬁsh’s indie hit Stardew Valley got the physical treatment last April, courtesy of 505 Games, and managed to enter the UK weekly charts, debuting at No.30. GM UK is launching a merchandise range alongside the boxed version of the title, including this key chain, as well as T-shirts and plushes. SRP: £6.99 Manufacturer: Gaya Entertainment Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: email@example.com
Little Nightmares - Women’s Hoodie Having been picked up by Bandai Namco, Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares probably can’t be labelled ‘indie’ anymore. But it deﬁnitely has an indie feel, with its amazing art and unique atmosphere. Bandai Namco also released an apparel collection alongside the title that includes hoodies, T-shirts and a backpack. SRP: £35.06 Manufacturer: Spreadshirt Distributor: Bandai Namco Contact: 020 3137 2587
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Indie Games: The Complete Introduction to Indie Gaming Waypoint’s senior editor Mike Diver is the author of this 128-page in-depth look at the indie industry, published last year. It features interviews with legendary developers Tim Schafer and David Braben, among others, and chats with some of the best indie studios of these past few years, such as The Chinese Room and Hello Games. SRP: £17.99 Manufacturer: MOM Books Distributor: LOM Art Contact: madeleine. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reigns tee Winner of the ﬁrst Google Play Indie Games contest, Reigns also has an oﬃcial T-shirt, simply featuring the title’s logo. The Tindermeets-medieval-politics game, which launched in August 2016, sold over 600,000 copies in just over a month. SRP: $25 (£19) Manufacturer: Devolver Digital Distributor: Devolver Digital Contact: email@example.com
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Original Soundtrack – Vinyl & CD If you somehow missed The Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, there’s still time to play this amazing game. And after that, you’ll probably need to buy the award-winning soundtrack, composed by Women in Games Awards nominee Jessica Curry. SRP: £5.89 (CD) or £35 (vinyl) Manufacturer: Sony Music Classical Distributor: Sony Music Classical Contact: 020 7361 8000
Firewatch Mini Art Print Box Campo Santo has released a wealth of high-end tie-in items around its indie hit Firewatch. Most of these products focus on the game’s gorgeous art, such as this box of ten mini prints designed by art director Olly Moss, but there’s also a beautiful vinyl version of the game’s soundtrack, among other products. SRP: $25 (£19) Manufacturer: Campo Santo Distributor: Campo Santo Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org May 19 MCV 917 | 41
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Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment • Publisher: Ubisoft • Distributor: Exertis • Platform(s): PS VR • Price: £39.99
Ubisoft's goal is "to deliver a game that is authentic to the Star Trek brand"
The publisher says...
The press say...
How well will it do?
Talking to MCV earlier this month, creative director at developer Red Storm David Votypka said that Ubisoft's goal was ultimately "to deliver a game that was authentic to the Star Trek brand." He added that Star Trek: Bridge Crew really is about "empowering players to become their own crew, their own officer, and live out their own Star Trek adventures." The game is "not tied directly to any existing Star Trek [story]" he added, so it should appeal to non-Star Trek fans as well. He continued: "The core of the game is ultimately about operating a spaceship with your friends, and who wouldn't want that?" n
The GamesRadar+ team enjoyed Star Trek: Bridge Crew's "commendable focus on the social aspect of virtual reality" but noted that "a lot of the enjoyment was derived from the banter between the team, so it’s uncertain if the game retains its entertainment value if you don’t know three other VR enthusiasts to play with." VideoGamer's Colm Ahern also said it does a "superb" job of immersing players and "urges you to drop inhibitions and embrace the silliness." Trusted Reviews’ Richard Easton said it "captures the tone of the Star Trek universe almost perfectly" and is "one of the most compelling showcases for what VR can offer." n
Even though Star Trek: Bridge Crew is a cross-play title between all VR headsets, only the PS VR version is coming to retail, with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive versions launching digitally. That said, Bridge Crew is arguably the most anticipated VR title of 2017 and will sell well inside its VR niche. With more headsets now sold, we predict the title will outsell PS VR launch title Eve: Valkyrie. In addition, Ubisoft doesn't just offer a compelling VR title here, it's also offering a much longed-for Star Trek experience, and that has huge value to fans of the show, so it should boost hardware sales of PS VR, Rift and Vive as well. n
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biggamereleases Release date: 26/05
Release date: 26/05
Disgaea 5 Complete
Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
Developer: Nippon Inchi Software Publisher: NIS America Distributor: Open Platform(s): Switch Price: £49.99
Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Distributor: Open Platform(s): PS4 Price: £39.99 Disgaea 5 Complete: a "natural ﬁt" for the Nintendo Switch
The Switch port of PS4 title Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is hitting shelves next week. Talking to MCV, NIS America president Takuro Yamashita said the Switch was a "natural fit" for the title since the "Disgaea series has appeared on portable devices for over ten years." He also revealead that pre-orders for Europe had reached 36k units at the time of writing. This Complete edition features eight bonus scenarios and three classes that were originally DLC in the PS4 version.
Samurai Warriors focuses on character Yukimura Sanada
Koei Tecmo's latest instalment in the hack-and-slash series Samurai Warriors is coming to PS4 next week. Unlike previous entries in the franchise, Spirit of Sanada focuses on a single character, Yukimura Sanada. The game also introduces new battle modes such as multi-stage battles, which take place over a longer period of time and on several battlefields. Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada also launches digitally for PC on Steam on the same day.
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Email: email@example.com May 19 MCV 917 | 43
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Developer & Publisher: Bandai Namco • Distributor: CentreSoft • Platform(s): PS4, XO, PC • Price: £49.99 (PS4, XO), £39.99 (PC)
"Getting the game perfect and content complete has been our focus"
The publisher says...
The press say...
How well will it do?
Having released in Japan as an arcade game in 2015, Tekken 7 finally launches at retail this June. And there will be a lot of firsts for the game, as it's the first Tekken release on currentgen machines, the first to be powered by the Unreal Engine and the first title in the series to be PS VR compatible. Talking to MCV earlier this year, Bandai Namco's UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton commented: "Tekken 7 is eagerly anticipated and getting the game perfect and content complete has been our focus." The firm has taken its time to deliver the title, which will ultimately feature 38 playable characters and a brand new online tournament mode. n
Previews for Bandai Namco's title are mostly positive, with WccfTech's Christian Vaz saying the game will "please the casual audience while maintaining all the things hardcore Tekken players expect." The PS VR mode didn't win a lot of favour, however, with Vaz commenting: "If you considered VR to be a selling point for Tekken 7, you can safely ignore it, as it isn’t worth your time." Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter reckons Bandai Namco has "embraced VR as an experiment first and foremost." He also added that gameplay options in VR were "limited" and that it should just be considered as "an interesting bonus extra." n
Tekken is the best selling fighting series ever, having shifted over 45.6m copies since its inception in 1994, so the publisher's ability to mobilise old fans will be key. Capcom's Street Fighter V, its closest franchise rival, has struggled for sales after a strong initial launch, according to the company's own figures, but the title was also a PS4 console exclusive, unlike Tekken 7 which will also sell on Xbox One. With both console platforms and arguably greater mainstream appeal, we expect the game to outperform its rival's launch figures, although how well it sells after that could be the deciding factor in the fate of the fighting game genre altogether. n
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The pick of the crop from this week's digital downloads Get Even
Developer: The Farm 51 Publisher: Bandai Namco Platforms: PS4, XO, PC Price: £24.99 Release date: May 26th
Seasons After Fall
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Platforms: PS4, XO Price: £11.99 Release date: Out now
Developer: Vertigo Games Publisher: Vertigo Games Platforms: PS VR Price: £29.99 Release date: June
Bandai Namco and The Farm 51's new IP is finally releasing on all platforms next week. Bandai Namco's UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton described it as a "sleeper psychological thriller" with "lots of twists and turns." A physical version of Get Even is also available, exclusive to GAME in the UK.
VR hit Arizona Sunshine is finally coming to PS VR after becoming the fastest-selling VR title earlier this year, having made over $1.4m in just a month on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The game will support both Sony's new PS VR Aim controller, Dualshock 4 controllers and PlayStation Move controllers.
Developer: SMAC Games Publisher: Mode 7 Games Platforms: XO, PC Price: £15.99 Release date: May 31st
Lovely hand-drawn title Seasons After Fall debuted on consoles a few days ago. Having launched on Steam in September last year, the puzzleplatformer gathered highlypositive reviews. In Seasons After Fall, gamers play as a wild fox who is able to change the seasons at will.
The highly-awaited Tokyo 42 finally has a release date and will land on PC and Xbox One on May 31st, with the PS4 version due mid-July. The isometric open-world shooter is described by its creators as "the love child of Syndicate and GTA 1" and had has the whole industry hyped since its announcement in 2016.
Release schedule Title
May 19th Akiba's Beat PS4, Vita RPG PQube Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia 3DS RPG Nintendo Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds Vita Visual novel Idea Factory Injustice 2 PS4, XO Fighting Warner Bros Vita RPG NIS America Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy Portal Knights PS4, XO Adventure 505 Games May 23rd Darksiders: Warmastered Edition Wii U RPG THQ Nordic Planet Coaster PC Simulation Frontier Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception PS4 RPG Deep Silver May 26th Constructor Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop Disgaea 5 Complete Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 Rime Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada
PS4, XO, PC 3DS NS PS4 PS4, XO PS4
Simulation Simulation RPG Fighting Adventure Hack & slash
System 3 Rising Star Games NIS America PQube Grey Box Koei Tecmo
01462 487 373 01753 483700 020 8664 3456 01216 253 388 020 8664 3485 01215 069 590
PQube Open Creative CentreSoft Open Advantage
01279 822 822 0203 4054584 01256 385 200
Exertis Sold Out Koch Media
01216 253 388 01215 069 590 020 8664 3485 01462 677 844 01480 359 403 01462 476130
CentreSoft Advantage Open Open Maximum Open
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This week Bethesda reassured Londoners, some Switch fun was witnessed on the tube and we all had a laugh at StandUp for GamesAid
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY
To celebrate the launch of Prey, Bethesda took it upon itself to place huge post-it notes around London to safeguard citizens against the Mimic invasion. With Mimics able to transform into all manner of everyday objects, Londoners were reassured that classic landmarks such as the Trafalgar Square lions, red phone boxes and beefeater hats were, indeed, safe. Alas, we forgot to put similar post-it notes on the last issue of MCV, so watch out for black, inky interlopers…
MIND THE GAP
Gamers may have mocked the idea of playing Switch games with strangers when Nintendo initially unveiled its brand new console back in January, but it seems Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has become the perfect ice-breaker for London commuters, including Square Enix’s UK PR manager Ian Dickson. Unknowingly papped on the tube, Dickson quickly rose to the top of Reddit last week, prompting such comments as “I thought that was his cellphone”, “Is this Portland?” and “that guy [has] GODLY THIGHS” (original emphasis). It’s just a shame Dickson didn’t have a third controller on hand so the lady next to him could put down Brexit-analysis snorefest Unleashing Demons and join in the fun.
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TICKLING OUR FUNNY BONE
thedraft industry appointments
StandUp for GamesAid returned to The Comedy Store for its fifth year on May 8th, hosted once again by GamesAid patron Imran Yusuf. The line-up included routines from Alistair Barrie, Pippa Evans, Jeff Innocent, Angela Barnes, Funmbi Onotayo and Dana Alexander (pictured). A massive £6,707.50 was raised on the night.
HTC Vive Europe has appointed PAUL BROWN as its new general manager. The former GM of Disney’s digital D2C and Disney Interactive for EMEA, Brown will oversee Vive’s growing European business, saying he’s “looking forward to working closely with the global Vive team to ensure we maintain and build on our position as a leader and pioneer.”
NEIL RALLEY has joined 505 Games as its new president. Previously general manager at 2K Games International, Ralley will now use his expertise to take 505 Games “to the next level” as it’s “poised for even greater things.”
MOMENT IN THE SUN
The Sun and Moon: Guardians Rising expansion for the Pokémon Trading Card Games series launched a couple of weeks ago and The Pokémon Company held a special event at KidZania in Westfield Shepherd’s Bush to celebrate. Kids and parents learned how to create their own card decks ahead of the evening’s optional tournament, and the Pokémon Animation Studio was also open for attendees to try their hand at making their own short stop-motion film starring Pokémon toys.
STUART WHYTE is to join Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe as director of VR product development at its London studio. The former studio director of Lionhead will lead the ongoing transition of the studio as it becomes the world’s leading triple-A VR team.
TRACEY MCGARRIGAN has joined Bossa Studios as chief marketing officer. “Tracey is one of these rare people who are able to swiftly move on from dogma to breakthrough, finding unique ways of engaging with our communities wherever they are,” said Bossa Studios CEO Henrique Olifiers.
Codemasters’ former head of legal JULIAN WARD has moved to the media and technology specialist law firm Lee & Thompson LLP. Previously, Ward was head of digital media at Hamlins, and has also worked as head of business and legal affairs for digital retail and games at BBC Worldwide.
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SOUTHAMPTON’S BIG DAY OUT Hampshire’s biggest gaming event returned for its third year earlier this month. Sponsored by Arcade Europe, a selection of custom-made arcade machines were available to play alongside dedicated VR areas where families went hands on with the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. There were also plenty of tournaments to get involved in, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe time trials, 1-2-Switch, and a Street Fighter II arcade tourney. So far, organiser Patrick Day-Childs says the event, along with various tournaments and pub quizzes, has raised over £2,000 for the charity ward of Southampton Hospital.
FIVE SECOND FACTS
2020 Konami’s now signed a deal with footballer Maradona to act as PES’ ambassador until 2020
3 The number of years it’s taken Dean Hall’s open world survival game DayZ to finally shuffle out of alpha and into beta
The number of ultra editions that will be available for Project Cars 2
£45.86 How much you’ll pay for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia’s five DLC packs if you don’t get the £39.99 season pass
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How much EA’s shares were worth earlier this week after a stellar Q4 and rising digital game sales
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