The hugely popular Interface event returned last week, bringing together hundreds of budding indie developers with publishers seeking new titles at St Mary’s Church in London.
A number of industry experts and legends also shared their wisdom on-stage during a series of topical talks. MCV looks back at the best lessons from the day
1.There’s never been a better time to make games – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy
Agostino Simonetta, third-party account manager for Microsoft’s ID@Xbox programme, revealed that the idea of development being easier than ever before is a myth.
The appreciation and acceptance of games from indie developers has never been higher,” he began.
The market potential for indie games has never been higher and the barriers to entry have never been lower.”
But, he added: The fact that it’s the best time ever doesn’t mean its easy. Making games has always been hard.”
Simonetta explained that while creating games is more accessible, indies must fully understand every part of the market to succeed.
Developers must have a 360-degree understanding of the games business,” he said.
Many of the challenges that developers face today, nobody has faced before.
Developing a game only contributes 35 per cent of your success.”
"Developing a game only contributes35 per cent ofyour success."
Agostino Simonetta, Microsoft
2.Community management is the new PR
Press Space owner Natalie Griffith (pictured, lead image) condemned those that see community building as unnecessary.
Those people are either blindly optimistic or blindly pessimistic,” she explained.
If there was a golden age where simply being there was enough to be successful, that’s long gone.”
Dismissing sending out press releases and free codes as no longer effective, Griffith said studios should know exactly what they are after.
Think about what you want to achieve,” she said.
Is it about bringing in a certain amount of money or learning how to take a game to market and work with partners?”
She also highlighted that brevity is key: If you can’t get the point of your game across in a Tweet and make it sound interesting, maybe think about your game design.”
3.Kickstarter is as useful for discoverability as it is for making money
Industry legend and Revolution Software founder Charles Cecil (pictured above) recounted his experience of taking Broken Sword 5 to Kickstarter as part of a sprawling look at how financing has evolved in the last 35 years.
He extoled the virtues of investing in community, recalling: The value of being able to communicate to 15,000 people who were our greatest advocates and would evangelise the game was equally as important as the money.”
Cecil also praised the rise of the iOS App Store, saying it had sparked a new ‘indie golden age’.
Apple is a lifesaver, because it provides a level playing field between small developers and the major publishers,” he said.
4.Digital isn’t the only format for indies, and Steam isn’t the only digital platform out there
Two of our speakers encouraged indie developers to consider a boxed release, saying they would be foolish to avoid the revenue it offers.
Digital distribution is not your only option,” said Xbox’s Agostino Simonetta.
Work with partners to bring your product to retail. Physical distribution is not an option for every title – it won’t work for 5.99 titles – but keep it in mind.”
Sold Out licensing director Gary Williams agreed, saying: Remember it’s a business. There are sources of revenue other than digital. Take as much of it as you can. Not all publishers are robber barons – there’s no shame in asking for help. Don’t avoid any revenue.”
He also reminded those taking the digital route that Steam isn’t just it”.
There are 700 networks, and they make up a third of the market,” he explained.
Go for revenue, go for anywhere you can sell it.”
5.‘Build it and they will come is utter bollocks’
Colin MacDonald (pictured above), who is heading up Channel 4’s new publishing venture All 4 Games, addressed a common topic of the day: discoverability.
‘Build it and they will come’ is utter bollocks,” he said.
If nobody sees it, nobody will play it. Marketing is sometimes a dirty word in development, but make sure you have a way of getting your game in front of your audience.”
MacDonald added that once players are in, developers must retain them.
People will only pay for as long as they play,” he said.
Our Made in Chelsea game had five-star reviews and trended on Twitter, but it only had eight hours of content. By the end of its first week, most people had completed it. It didn’t matter how well we monetised those players.
Spread that out over months and keep them playing for longer – then monetisation is the easy bit.”
6.Every games market is different – you must adjust your approach
Gareth Williams of Premier PR, Tobias Jost of Marchsreiter Communications and Victor Perez of VPCom compared notes on how to market a game in the UK, Germany and France, respectively.
Unlike the UK or France, Germany has three main media cities: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich,” said Jost.
You will need three days for a press tour or at least two events, or you won’t reach all of the media. Print is still important as an influencer, too.”
Contrasting this to the French industry, Perez said: All the media are in Paris. The print press has declined perhaps more than other territories, so it’s best to work with key influencers such as YouTubers and streamers.”
"The value of being able to communicate to 15,000 people is as equally as important as the money."
Charles Cecil, Revolution Software
7.It’s never been easier to release a game, but discoverability is harder than ever before
Unity’s Andy Brammall built upon the discussion of discoverability.
Digital delivery has opened the floodgates and made it easy for developers to get their games in front of people – but it’s also meant there’s a gargantuan number of competitors,” he warned, highlighting that 55 new titles are added to Steam every week.
He also discussed th