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IN-DEPTH: New Ukie strategy targets game start-ups and studios

Michael French
IN-DEPTH: New Ukie strategy targets game start-ups and studios

UK games industry trade body Ukie today talked MCV through the organisation's new strategy for games developers.

A new three-pronged approach spearheaded by new CEO Jo Twist sees Ukie ramp up what it can offer to studios and new firms as well as continue the political lobbying and market research it provides more established businesses.

But it is the first big step for the organisation under Twist, who joined at the start of the year.

Twist told MCV today that the new approach not only continues the ELSPA-to-Ukie rebrand from just under two years ago, but firmly makes Ukie a '21st Century trade association'.

STRATEGY SHIFT

At its inception, Ukie said it was for the whole games industry.

Two years later, with half of its members now non-publishers, it has proven the plan out, Twist explained.

But as the barriers and differences between developers and publishers continue to erode, Ukie will offer even more, she said.

"I've only ever worked with indie developers, and I've seen first hand the problems they have at the coal face.

"I think that our new strategy addresses all of their needs - but then that feed back into what every single one of our members need too.

"People say 'why not focus on just publishers, or just developers' but our industry is so diverse now. Take Mind Candy, it's a retailer, a licensor, a games company, a music company - that's the shape of the industry now.

"So we've refined that strategy, and this year we have very tangible things to offer and attract new companies, start ups and anyone in development."

Indeed, 18 months after the rebrand, Ukie knows it needs to deliver on its claims.

"We already do deliver a lot to existing members - through market research, lobbying and press work we do - but now we are really widening that out.

"I want to prove to micro businesses and developers in particular that we are here for them.

"Every developer I speak to has the same problems, and they are actually very complex issues that someone like Ukie can address quite quickly and simply.

"Things like HR and legal problems, simple stuff - but we can be a one-stop shop for things like standard contracts."

THE NEW ORDER

The new strategy comes off the back of Ukie's contribution towards successful campaigns on Next-Gen Skills, tax breaks for games production, and the introduction of PEGI as the de facto games rating.

Three distinct programs will shape what Ukie is:

The Industry Transition Programme. This is for the ‘old school’ element of Ukie that wants to learn about the new world of games and succeed in them. Ukie says that’s “publishers, media entertainment companies and others looking to transition into new marketplaces and business models”. Most important here is offering more research, analysis and insight into trends, marketplaces and consumer behaviour.

The Growth Ready Programme. This is for new businesses and start-ups, “developers, indies and new entertainment businesses who are redefining the industry”. A new Ukie website filled with documents and info for growing businesses is key here, with an emphasis on networking and knowledge sharing events.

The Talent Development Programme. This will focus on young talent (school aged children, school leavers, graduates and postgraduates) that wants to be in the games industry. Elements range from implementing the recommendations of the Next Gen skills report introducing Student membership.

That will all sit alongside existing work on political lobbying, IP protection, market data and industry promotion (and, at times, PR protection).

DEVELOPER SERVICES

Ukie is also building a Developers Manifesto, created in consultation with Ian Livingstone and the developer group in the organisation that he chairs. (It probably won’t require dice and a pen and paper to read it, mind.)

Ukie will also offer a hotline for developers to email and let the trade body know what else it needs to off to support the games business.

"We're committed to growing, supporting and promoting the evolving UK development sector," Ukie added in a special guide published today that detailed its offer to developers.

You can read the document in full here on our sister site Develop.

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