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Developers must "adapt and disrupt", according to Northern Exposure keynote

YORK, UK - 14 May 2007 - Videogame developers must adapt or die as the industry matures from young upstart to big business, according to the head of a leading creative industries investment firm speaking at a major new games conference yesterday [Thursday 10 May].

Hugh Mason, the head of film and TV investment company Pembridge Partners, opened yesterday's Northern Exposure conference at York Racecourse (UK) with an overview of the media markets, concluding with advice for games developers on how to maintain a key role in the industry.

Attempting to curtail developers' fears that the market is headed for an 'apocalypse', Mason said that good times were ahead for those "prepared to adapt".

Speaking to a 200-strong capacity crowd, he said: "The games industry might seem apocalyptic at the moment, but maybe you're just moving out of the back bedroom in your parents' house and into a flat - an industry reaching maturity. As a young industry you're just growing up.

"When everything is all messed up there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs disrupt the market and thrive on chaos."

The "chaos" Mason mentioned refered to the current situation in the games industry - an effect caused by a number of different factors today: the shift towards 'next-generation' consoles, the industry's changing business models, pressures from other media and territories, and the agile behaviour of emerging smaller teams.

With many developers keen to exploit digital distribution and its self-publishing potential, Mason said that one way of adapting will be to not just rely on publishers for funding - possibly even not rely on them at all.

However, he did warn: "If you're going to cut out the publisher you're going to have to become a publisher yourself."

Mason predicted that as long as developers understood what their company was offering - encouraging them to think of their games as brands directly associated with their company, and vice versa - studios could will benefit from a period of super growth, attracting wider investment and financial support from companies outside of the games industry's traditional boundary.

The Northern Exposure 07 conference was organised by Codeworks GameHorizon and Game Republic - the support agencies for game developers in North East England and Yorkshire (respectively).

The aims of the conference were to highlight the unprecedented wealth of opportunities currently available to game developers.

Also speaking were Lou Fawcett, head of casual games at one of the world's leading publishers, Eidos; George Bray, international brand manager for casual games specialist MumboJumbo, and Darren Jobling, director of business development at award-winning Gateshead-based driving games firm Eutechnyx.

Nina Cliff, business development manager of conference organisers Codeworks GameHorizon, said the event had achieved its aims.

She commented: "As Northern Exposure 07 highlighted, the opportunities are there for those who are bold enough and sharp enough to take them.

"But as Hugh mentioned in his keynote address, it's also time for this relatively young industry to mature - time for studios to think carefully about what they want to get out of their businesses, and what they need to do to reach those goals. And again, as Hugh mentioned, the developers that are able to do so successfully could achieve astronomical growth and success."



Notes for editors

Accompanying photograph shows (from L to R): Charles Cecil, founder of Revolution and co-founder of Game Republic; Carri Cunliffe, manager of GameHorizon; Nina Cliff, business development manager of GameHorizon; and Craig Allbeck, project manager of Game Republic.

About Codeworks GameHorizon

GameHorizon is an association of North East games development companies whose remit is to strengthen, support and promote the exciting and growing games sector. Its members include Newcastle-based Reflections, Eutechnyx and Venom Games of Gateshead, and Atomic Planet of Middlesbrough. GameHorizon is part of Codeworks, the North East's centre of digital excellence. www.gamehorizon.net

About Game Republic

Game Republic is an Independent Trade Alliance that supports, encourages and promotes video game development in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Its members include Sumo Digital, Revolution, Rockstar Leeds, Kuju and GameSauce. www.gamerepublic.co.uk

For more information please contact:

Lewis Harrison

Codeworks GameHorizon

DD: +44 (0)191 556 1128

M: +44 (0)7867 674 994

E: lewis.harrison@codeworks.net


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