Game Republic

Investor insights from Game Republic panel at Climb24

Game Republic hosted an investor panel at Climb24 in June. The panel, chaired by Game Republic’s MD Jamie Sefton included Jake Zim, Senior Vice President of Virtual Reality for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Gina Jackson OBE founder of Pitchify and Skillfull, Bobby Thandi, CEO of XR Games and Caroline Norbury OBE , CEO of Creative UK. The panel was followed at 3.30pm with an industry mixer event with investors, Jake, game developers and start-ups. The panel answered questions on the investor benefits, the investor landscape and what investors look for when considering games. The insights were too good not to share so here we go…

Why invest in videogames?

Bobby Thandi, XR Games said because “it’s super exciting and a dynamic sector” and contrary to how things felt at the start of the year, deals were being made and there was more positivity. For Gina Jackson OBE the rationale was more centred on the commercial benefits  “there are huge under-served audiences meaning there is huge potential in the space.” Jake believed it was great particularly as an early stage investor. For Caroline Norbury OBE, the potential returns from the creative industries are often not fully recognised. She stated  “We’re a vanguard sector – we create things that other sectors use. If you get in with creative industries – the potential can go beyond entertainment.” She also highlighted how games create stickiness with players and all kinds of people – a factor that provides more ways to exploit that investment.

“The key takeaway is investors have money and want to invest and you have to work harder for it.”
Bobby Thandi – XR Games

“People need plans and we need to learn and to build sustainable businesses.”
Gina Jackson OBE, Pitchify and Skillfull UK


What is the investment landscape like for games?

Bobby once again kicked off by highlighting that the sector is forever changing. He said that what he has seen is that specialist gaming investors are still keen to do deals but need evidence of growth and generally have more criteria and that that is making the timeline to secure deals longer. For generalist investors, he believed they wanted to see studios that were looking at work-for-hire alongside their own IP. He was also conscious of more co-development deals, half funded with partners. He summarised saying “The key takeaway is investors have money and want to invest and you have to work harder for it.”

Jake reinforced that it was “a tough space” but highlighted the key components investors were seeking “is there a consumer that is spending and is there growth in categories that matter – what are the right sized budgets today and  can you get creative to deliver what a consumer wants.”

Gina highlighted a different perspective on looking at the planning for sustainable growth – and believed that was something the whole games industry should be considering. “People need plans and we need to learn and to build sustainable businesses.”

Caroline explained that in TV and film, there has been some negative impact from the industry dealing with the outcome of the strikes and contraction in advertising. However on a positive note, she highlighted:

“Most successful businesses are ones working internationally with a global outlook. In most of the UK, businesses operate like that in the creative sector.”
Caroline Norbury OBE, Creative UK

How to secure games investment?

Caroline highlighted the importance of the team – “We need people who can run a business. Have someone good on numbers so pipes and poetry work together.” This point was further emphasised by Gina who urged developers to understand “you are making commercial stuff – you need to think of an investor as an investor, not a sponsor and need to think about things commercially.”

Jake underlined the importance of track record – particularly shipping products history especially software on time and on budget. “Vision and idea is only a tenth of the value – we learn something every time we ship products.” Bobby supported the sentiment emphasizing evidence of output and traction and a history of working with the tools and tech. “Ensure your studio is at the stage that reflects what investors are expecting.”

Jake shared that networking is really important and warms up the intro, and for Gina it was not just about networking, but was also about prep so you can anticipate what an investor will want to know. And for those just starting out with little track record, Caroline reminded people you can “start small testing to show the proof points, you can develop them in the open or do closed” and for Bobby above everything you have to “evidence the fun”.

Game Republic presents at partner events as well as running our own events each year. The next Game Republic panel takes place at Develop in Brighton with a panel on Narrative Design with Rhianna Pratchett, Charles Cecil (Revolution), Paul Cornell (Dr Who, Marvel) and Judi Alston (Dreaming Methods) at 2pm on 9th July

If you are interested in joining Game Republic to attend all of our events for FREE and to gain exclusive invites to partner events, please contact us here

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