Setting up a new games network in the North East of England in 2013 was much different than in 2004!
I have been setting up a new North East games network called Game Kettle. This isn’t a new venture for me, as I rallied the North East devs and universities and applied for funding from the local government to form the first games network in the region back in 2004 called GameHorizon. It has however been very different.
Back then there was a very different feel to the industry with the majority of the companies developing console games and working on a “work for hire” basis. There was very little IP created by regional companies and there were huge barriers to entry for any company wishing to set up a games company. In addition, there were less companies but they were bigger and there was much more public regional funding to help support SMES. Today the game horizon (pardon the pun) is extremely different and in many respects just as tough.
Many of the companies who were the founding members have disappeared – venom games, Mere Mortals, Midway Games, Atomic Planet Entertainment, In fact there are only 2 of the original companies who survive today Eutechnyx and Reflections. Of these Eutechnyx still remains an independent developer who has managed to survive by ensuring their strategies looked at future changes and opportunities and they literally changed with the times. Last week saw the release of their very first mobile games: Ninja cats Vs Samurai Dogs and although they still do work for hire they also have an online racing game called ACR which is very much their own original IP.
Reflections is owned by Ubisoft and is also changing and adapting to new challenges of the games industry.
There are some notable and interesting indie companies in the region who are developing mainly apps and mobile games such as Gospelware, Tint Digital, Game Tonic, Sock Moneky, Hippo Interactive, Lemon Moose Games to name but a few. We also have some awesome service companies such as Secret Sauce (self plug) and also the concept art company Atom Hawk.
Game Kettle is very much a network which aims to help indies network, meet investors, learn from industry experts, provide PR coverage and also share resources and general knowledge. We have an advisory board and we aim to attract sponsorship to pay for events and activities. I suppose the other difference is all the work including the events , project management and branding are done for free.
Next year Game Kettle aims to get really steamy; we aim to have a game jam based in Teesside and also a one day conference and indie case. We are also supporting and promotiong the GameHorizon international business conference which will be coming back to Gateshead on the 7th and 8th May 2014.
Follow us on Twitter for more information @gamekettle.