Microsoft and Creative England put £250,000 in to UK Indie Development Fund

We speak to Creative England's Rob Crossley about the Greenshoots indie development project
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Microsoft and Creative England have announced a £250,000 investment pot for indie development in the UK.

The Greenshoots programme, now in its third year, is a support and funding programme for indie developers, offering financial support and workshops from both Microsoft and Creative England. The programme, which has been running since 2014, has seen a couple of success stories including Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade.

The programme will help successful applicants with funding for their project as well as support for the business of games development, including pitching, marketing and publishing. Agostino Simonette, the EMEA regional lead for ID@Xbox said: “We’re proud to continue our relationship with Creative England to help nurture developer talent from the UK.”

We spoke to Rob Crossley, Creative England's head of games, about the programme:

This is the third year of the Greenshoots programme, how has the programme gone over the last few rounds?

I’m really pleased with it – we’ve invested in a whole range of amazing studios and the outcome is beginning to show. Pixel Toys’ Warhammer Freeblade was a big hit, in fact it was revealed for the first time at the iPhone 6S press conference. There’s more wonderful titles in the pipeline too, such as Aaero by Mad Fellows, which I played for the first time at EGX and – being a huge fan of Rez – I adored.

With the current uncertainty in the country, how important are programmes like this to identify talent and to enhance discoverability?

Yeah well first I think that, for the games industry, Brexit presents an opportunity rather than a problem. The government and civil service are going through unprecedented times with many questions up in the air - it’s up to the games industry to seize the moment and present answers. There are so many meaningful and persuasive reasons why the UK should further support its brilliant and growing games industry, and it’s up to us to make those reasons clear.

You’re completely right about the ideology of the programme; England is home to some of the greatest creatives in the games industry and I’m so proud that Creative England and Microsoft are committed to putting the spotlight on them. With more than 4000 games released on Steam this year alone, and more than 500 games submitted to the App Store each day, it’s more important than ever that developers find ways to get noticed.

What advice do you have to applicants?

I’ll start with some small pointers: Playable code is great, a video is good, but a pitch deck can still work. We’re looking for all kinds of game ideas out there.

Probably the best advice I can give applicants is don’t be afraid and don’t be hesitant. I know a lot of developers who are very interested in pitching to us but aren’t confident yet that their game holds up to scrutiny, or they worry they don’t have enough experience or industry presence. Think of it this way; it’s a free professional assessment of your game idea. That’s pretty good value! Plus it’s the first step to building a relationship with us. Also, if your idea is assessed and doesn’t pass the test, it absolutely won’t have an effect on a potential second application for the same game. And then again, if we do see the potential in it, your idea could be funded by us and supported by one of the world’s biggest technology companies.

Oh, and applications close in a month, so try and do it before Christmas and start the New Year with a smaller to-do list!

Applications are open to all SME games companies based in England and operating outside London. Games considered for funding will be in development for either Xbox One or Windows 10, but there is no exclusivity release requirement on either platform.

To apply visit creativeengland.co.uk/games/greenshoots or email games@creativeengland.co.uk for more information. The deadline for applications is Friday, January 13. Funding will be issued in its entirety to all successful applicants before April 2017.

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