Investing in Innovative Screen Businesses – A Gaming Exploration
On 16th February we were pleased to host a deep dive roundtable focusing on gaming, as part of the Creative EnterpriseEvolve programme, led by Creative England, in partnership with UKBAA and BFI. For this event, we teamed up with Ukie to explore the explosive opportunities in the UK games sector.We were excited to be joined by an exceptionally knowledgeable panel, including: Steve Tinkler, CFO – Tonic Games, John Clark, CEO – Curve Digital, Ian Livingstone CBE, Co-founding Partner – Hiro Capital, Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO – Ukie, Mehjabeen Patrick, CIO & COO, Creative England, with hosting from UKBAA’s CEO Jenny Tooth OBE. The event represents the third event in this series, having previously covered animation and prior to the opportunities for early–stage investors.
Mejahabeen kicked things off by highlighting the incredible growth of the UK games sector over recent years – with this accelerating during lockdown – as well as referencing some of Creative England’s investment success stories, including their investment in Brighton-based independent games studio, FuturLab. Dr Jo Twist OBE of Ukie touched on the growth of the sector too: there are over 2000 active games companies in the UK, with the vast majority of these at startup stage and eager to scale. It’s possible to view the geographical spread of UK games business via Ukie and Nesta’s games map.
One of the themes that emerged through the course of the event was the increasing prevalence of gaming in people’s lives on account of the pandemic and the opportunities that brings for the sector. Steve Tinkler of Tonic Games – who saw phenomenal success last year with their breakout game Fall Guys – spoke of games becoming platforms, and how online gaming events can now be attended by hundreds of thousands of people. The phrase ‘ambient gaming’ was also used to describe a new type of gaming that’s emerging, which is less about the competitive element and more focused on using it as a means of relaxation or socialising. There’s so much opportunity for growth within the sector – whether in terms of technology, audience or geography – and with that greater investment opportunities.
The sector proved itself to be exceptionally resilient last year. Jo reminded the audience that businesses that are associated with drawing us towards play, whatever form that takes, are not going anywhere. John Clark of Curve shared that the number of acquisitions he’s seen taking place across the industry recently is unprecedented.
When an audience member asked how to get started investing in the sector, Ian Livingstone CBE of Hiro Capital recommended getting in touch with Ukie or indeed any of his fellow panellists as the best way to keep your ear to the ground. The panel agreed that the sector is made up of people that want to help, with there not being the ‘celebrity status’ that exists in some other sectors. The topic of how to get started was also covered in a recent UKAA blog.
Gaming is a hugely diverse, multifaceted sector and the discussion reflected this. We look forward to continuing to host events that provide a deep dive into the many areas within the creative sector where there are opportunities for investors.
See more on UKBAA, Creative England & British Film Institute’s Creative Enterprise: Evolve here.