Supporting a more successful interactive cluster within a rapidly evolving global market
“How do we reframe it and make it work for everyone? Make a difference.”Mark Lloyd
Building A Better Cluster
After moving to Scotland in 2018, games industry veteran Mark Lloyd, started researching the videogames industry in Scotland, with a particular focus on the cluster around Dundee.
Mark has many years of experience in videogames studio and production management, and is the author of Zero Crunch: The Best Way To Ethical, Cost Effective Software.
Mark’s goal was to find out what the sector in Dundee and Angus was composed of and, with his focus on ethical and successful software development, if there was a role for him in helping to make the cluster more effective and successful.
What he discovered was a sector which, despite producing a large number of graduates from videogames courses, was not producing successful or sustainable companies to the extent he expected.
Mark found the students talented in both technical and creative skills, but with little knowledge of how to run a games business or development studio.
Mark started exploring the question how the talent emerging from the local colleges and universities could engage with the local ecosystem and create sustainable and successful businesses.
He began working with Hyper Luminal Games, an independent studio within the city, which could use his management experience and expertise to increase efficiency, improve the company culture, build a more resilient team and deliver complete, successful projects on an ongoing basis.
Reframing The Problem
Despite the presence of incubator and accelerator support, Mark recognised that they offered only part of the skillset required to create and run a successful videogames business. They offered short-term support, with a cookie-cutter approach to founders, and Key Performance Indicators which did not necessarily focus on building long-term sustainable businesses.
Rather than focus on working as an individual, helping a limited number of companies, Mark was interested in reframing the problem and finding a solution which would make a real difference to everyone.
In April 2019 Mark had a conversation with Hendrik Lesser, the founder and CEO of Remote Control Productions (RCP) about establishing a base in Scotland.
RCP brings veterans in production, finance, business and marketing to the games industry as a consulting group. This group supports, invests in and brings work to its family of studios around the world.
The company had previously explored other areas of the UK, but had discovered either insufficient critical mass, or regions which were too expensive and competitive to effectively support RCP’s model.
Following his research into the Dundee cluster, Mark saw a huge opportunity for RCP to support multiple new companies emerging in the region.
The RCP Model
Remote Control Productions is a ‘family’ of studios, from young indie developers, through to large, established businesses, working upon some of the world’s leading videogames brands.
Using the talent and new teams coming out of the Dundee cluster, there was an opportunity for RCP to act as a specialist incubator, doing due diligence and providing support to the teams coming out of the universities, colleges and games projects (such as Dare to be Digital, Tranzfuser, etc.). RCP would help them set up and refine their hiring, business, production and development processes, find work and ensure they were supported directly to complete and deliver projects effectively.
Mark suggested a six month prospecting phase, using the RCP methodology, to identify new teams, understand their ambitions and goals, assess their capabilities and increase their experience. RCP could identify potential projects, Mark could provide in-house support and identify if they were potential RCP family members.
If they become an RCP member, a team would then have help to address other areas of the business, to create a more balanced mix of skills (such as business development, finance, marketing, etc.) to help the company grow and scale.
Even if a team was unsuccessful in becoming an RCP member, they would have had six months of guidance and mentoring in development and production management, as well as learning from the prospecting and pitching process.
As the RCP methodology is collaborative, rather than competitive, as the number of new businesses grew, they could ‘cluster’ to work together and service much larger projects.
The longer term plan is to build a number of RCP studios over the next 3 – 5 years, all at different stages of growth and experience, to create the heart of a new games development cluster, focused around the Dundee region. This could then be expanded out across the rest of Scotland and into other nations and regions across the UK.
Despite the huge impact of Covid-19 on the academic system, Remote Control Productions Scotland remains committed to helping the Dundee cluster to grow and thrive. As soon as opportunities for young studios to engage with enterprise and industry are once more in place, RCP will be there to provide support.