Presented by the U.K.’s Department for International Trade
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the world’s largest professional game industry event, attracting over 27,000 programmers, artists, producers, game designers, and others who represent the future of interactive game and virtual reality development and shape the course of the industry.
The rapidly expanding U.K. games industry will have a formidable presence at the GDC (see below for a sample of companies in attendance). The U.K. boasts the third largest game industry in the world when it comes to developer success and sales, and is home to some of the world’s most successful video game franchises, including Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto, Fable, Colin McRae Dirt, and Total War.
“We love playing games in the U.K. and we love making them too” said Dan Rutstein, Regional Director for the U.K.’s Department for International Trade (DIT). “The U.K. games industry is one of the fastest growing in the world where hungry early adopters, a deep talent pool, and investment into R&D have helped create an environment where developers and publishers thrive.”
And innovation abounds. Companies like Simul are inventing game technology that develops virtual weather systems to mimic real-world environments. Improbable is launching a new platform on which third parties can build virtual and simulated environments for games and VR. And Reality Games is developing mobile games based on live, real-world big data, including Landlord Real Estate Tycoon, which boasts over 4 million players.
Much of that innovation is due to the changes in tax breaks in the U.K. Game developers’ productions now receive the same reduced costs enjoyed by film and television. And initiatives such as Microsoft Ventures’ gaming and tech start-up accelerator program in London and Creative England’s GamesLab initiative have also kept the industry growing.
The U.K. is home to 2,044 games companies, as of October 2016, and generates £2 billion in global sales each year. Companies range from new micro-studios developing games for the burgeoning mobile market to international publishers and independent studios creating new genres, from massive multiplayer online games like RuneScape, to god simulations, real-time strategy, racing and role-playing games. Even world-leading supply chain software technologies are here, including Cubic Motion, DeltaDNA, Humain/InLifeSize, Gamebench, and Outsider Games.
All this creativity means indie games can find a supportive foothold. For instance, independent, educational studios like Applingua and Omni Systems Ltd. are changing the face of an industry that’s growing increasingly diverse, designing progressive, positive, social gaming experiences. Non-profit companies like SpecialEffect are providing specialist technology and support for the inclusion of disabled adults and children.
Game developers inhabit both the technology and creative sectors, which are key parts of the Invest in GREAT campaign, DIT’s largest-ever international trade and investment campaign. This deep bench of innovative companies exemplify the campaign’s message that the U.K. is open for business, offering world-leading resources and reliable strength that is ripe for global investment and trade.
“With its cutting edge blend of technology, science, maths, and art, nowhere is this ingenuity on better show than within the British games industry,” says Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Digital & Culture.
Across the globe, industry players are sitting up and taking notice. The U.K. is a leading investment destination for overseas games companies. Warner Bros. snatched up Rocksteady, the developers of the Batman: Arkham series, and TT Games, which developed the LEGO series. And the big guys are also setting up shop in the U.K., investing in U.K. development studios and publishing networks. Microsoft has its Rare and Lift London studios. Sony has two London offices, as well as London and Guildford (Media Molecule) development studios, and both EA and Ubisoft operate publishing efforts out of Guildford.
Maybe that’s why a 2016 pan-European survey named the U.K. as the source of the best games both today and in five years from now, as the concentration of game studios in the U.K. continues to grow.
British game developers are turning out in force for the GDC in San Francisco this year. Last year, the U.K. presence at GDC achieved a record-breaking £10.81 million in business for U.K. games companies, breaking the 2015 GDC record. It’s expected to be broken by the U.K. again at the 2017 conference, with major U.K. companies again on display, including Green Man Gaming, Multiplay, and Jagex, the creator of the most popular free-to-play multiplayer game in the world.
U.K. rockstars at GDC
Here’s a sample of the companies that will be blowing minds on the floor of the GDC.
A Belfast-based video game developer, the company will be featuring their jovial space adventure, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING, an intergalactic adventure in which the Queen of England has decided to establish a Galactic British Empire. Drawing inspiration from games such as Lucas Art’s The Secret of Monkey Island and comic troupe Monty Python, HMS is the satirical journey of Captain Frank Lee English in his quest to appropriate the stars for Her Majesty.
The newly reassembled game studio, comprised of game veterans and partnered with Northern Ireland Screen will be launching its new project, UMWELT, at the GDC. Attendees will get to see gameplay videos and screenshots and (hopefully) play a very early demo showcasing some of the game’s unique features at GDC 2017.
deltaDNA is a game analytics and marketing platform that helps users improve player experience and monetization in their games. The platform can be used to segment players based on behaviour and ability, and then to augment their game experience. Isaac Roseboom, head of insight at deltaDNA, will be giving a talk at the GDC, called “What the Best Games Know About Analytics That The Rest Don’t,” outlining what you need to do to successfully monetize a game and drive repeat spend.
With Andreesen Horowitz investment, Improbable has launched a platform for third parties to build virtual and simulated worlds at scale. This month the company announced a partnership with Google and opened a San Francisco office to serve game community and government verticals that will feature its first alpha product, SpatialOS. Look for Improbable’s featured speakers, including the CEO and CTO, as they host several sessions over the course of the conference.
Outsider, established in 2011, develops original properties, undertaking commissions from high-profile clients like the BBC and Lionsgate films. They’ll be featuring their Xbox One and PS4 game Wailing Heights, a coffin-rocking, body-hopping, musical adventure, at the GDC. The game will be launching early this year.
Quantum Soup is an independent video game developer based in North Wales, specialising in narrative-driven games. They’ll be announcing their debut game, “TALESINGER: Voice of the Dragon” at GDC.
The Trailer Farm
A production studio that makes trailers for video games, the company now offers clients 360 interactive trailers, mixed reality shoots and full marketing toolkits of creative collateral.
Vision Game Labs
A medical technology start-up from Wales that designs science-backed gaming apps to measure vision in patients. The company recently received an NHS award for their work and are in the process of applying for clinical trials.
Wibbu is an educational video-game studio based in London, with the goal of modernising foreign-language learning. After ranking at #1 in the App Store Education category in 20 countries around the world, the company is launching its new mobile video game, Ruby Rei, which teaches languages to players, at GDC. The game will officially launch in March 2017 on iOS and Android for both tablet and mobile, and will be available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.
Come meet the U.K. delegation at this year’s GDC! The U.K. Industry stand is at the South Hall, stand #1416 of the Moscone Center in San Francisco, February 27 to March 3!
To learn more about the U.K. gaming industry contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit great.gov.uk.
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