Organised by NESTA, the meeting outlined the concept for the creation of a new games publisher, in which a number of developers have equity.
NESTA itself would ‘prime the pump’ with a significant injection of money and then around seven or eight development companies, would each invest £20-25K, giving themselves a position on the board and an opportunity to publish their games through the publisher.
While this sounds somewhat similar to the late lamented (if you ever attended one of their parties) Gathering of Developers, the actual structure is being designed to provide a far more solid and commercially viable business model than Gathering achieved during its brief life.
The as-yet-unnamed-publisher will carry out the normal publishing functions – marketing and distribution primarily. While it may eventually incorporate all platforms, initially, it focus on digital distribution channels such as PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, iPhone, iPad, Steam, Android, etc.
The publisher will have a CEO who’s responsibility will be to run the company on a commercially viable basis. As investors and board members, the developers will have input into the company’s goals and objectives, as well as an avenue to publish their games. Commercially successful games will increase the equity of the development studio within the organisation, ensuring healthy competition is the order of the day.
Crucially, the publisher will not be obliged to publish everything from the development investors. Each game will looked at commercially and critically and games can be refused if they either do not meet quality and/or technical requirements, or if they do not fit within the publisher’s overall portfolio.
While this does require the developers to have other publishing channels available, it also ensures developers are not tied to a single publisher and can release content through other partners.
The publisher will be a limited company, which in in turn part of a limited liability partnership, this particular structure offering tax benefits and providing the greatest flexibility in adding/removing investors should companies wish to leave, or new developers invited to join.
NESTA and a team of very experienced and high profile game development veterans are already interviewing candidates for the CEO position. The CEO will then be responsible for appointing the rest of the management team and setting up the rest of the corporate structure.
The CEO role is clearly crucial in the overall creation of the company. NESTA confirmed on Friday that over 60 candidates had already been interviewed and an announcement of the successful applicant would take place ‘in the next couple of weeks’.
NESTA is now looking for developers who would be interested in joining the consortium as investors and board members. There are several provisions however.
- The developer must be an independent UK organisation (i.e. not publisher owned and registered as a UK business)
- It must be an SME (<250 staff and turnover <£50M)
- It must have a track record of published original titles (their own intellectual property)
- Capable of self-financing development
- Experience in developing digitally-delivered games
- Willing to take a risk in a new business model
- Have £20K to invest
Applications from developers close at 12 NOON on 14/02/2011. Interested parties should contact NESTA directly.