Leaders of major game companies in Sussex are considering launching a Brighton Games Festival, in order to raise the profile of the area’s games cluster.
The discussion took place at a virtual Wired Sussex Round Table, where local industry businesses gathered to discuss the findings of the Sussex games cluster report. The report, put together by Wired Sussex, analysed ways in which the sector could continue to grow and address challenges.
First Base, which is behind the construction of the city’s newest neighbourhood, Edward Street Quarter, produced the report in partnership with Wired Sussex.
Those in attendance suggested launching a Brighton Games Festival, in order to attract Government support and bring more attention to the area. There was also debate on how to brand the cluster, with the favoured option being the Brighton Area Games Cluster, since the city is so well known.
Of course, there’s already a major industry event in the city: Develop:Brighton. Though it remains to be seen if the two events could be run concurrently. The round table did discuss local studios booking space at the conference as an option.
Andy Lane, MD of Develop:Brighton organiser Tandem Events, told us: “Brighton and Sussex have always had a rich seam of creative & development talent, which is one of the prime reasons we chose the city for Develop:Brighton in the first place over 16 years ago. Our week-long event attracts over 3000 people to Brighton from all sectors of the game development community with more than 20 separate events running through the week including the Conference, Expo and the Develop Star Awards. We look forward to working with the Brighton Area Games Cluster to help them raise their profile during Develop:Brighton.”
David Amor, non-executive director, Wired Sussex, said: “With a total of 76 games companies in Sussex, this puts the cluster in a great position to attract talent, giving employees plenty of career prospects, but without the need to uproot to a new city for work when they want to progress… This is a major strength.
“We need to do more to put our cluster on the map and boost awareness of the many opportunities in the city, regionally, nationally and internationally, so that our cluster has the same recognition as other hubs around the UK. Our studios are highly collaborative and together we have already brainstormed ideas about how we can continue to help the sector to thrive.”
The meeting recognised that the area has a gap in terms of supply and demand for talent, as well as difficulty in attracting diverse candidates. It was suggested that the cluster could run an internship competition with the local universities to combat this. Relocation packages for entry-level positions were also considered to combat the high cost of living in Sussex and attract graduate talent. Brexit has also been a challenge for recruiting outside of the UK, with visa costs being particularly prohibitive for smaller studios.
The Sussex Games Cluster Report identified that Sussex generates more than £200m in economic value for the region annually and is set to grow to a quarter of a billion in 2021.