With another fantastic London Games Festival behind us, Film London looks back at the key events that shaped this year's busy Festival. Read on below to hear insights into VIP industry events as well as our impressions from expos and exhibitions across the capital...
Our first stop was Games London's VIP Day at the Tower of London for Games industry VIPs and Execs, to connect, network and share expert insights into the exciting state of the global gaming industry.
The Conference was opened by Li Ma, Director of Investment at Tencent, and Chair of the Games London Advisory Board. Ma began with a testament to the global reach of London as an international Games industry hub: ''We are here to celebrate the diverse world of Games''. The Festival itself, he added, emphasised the local and international impact of Games, with delegates from the all over the UK, US, Asia, Germany, Finland, Spain and more present at the Conference.
Fittingly drawing a comparison to the Tower of London itself, a bastion of the past, Ma highlighted how London's rich history can play an important role in its future; as the Tower hosted a celebration of innovation, creativity and the next-generation of Games.
The UK is such a hub of creativity
Sarah Bond, Corporate Vice President, Xbox
Later in the day, Sarah Bond, Corporate Vice President at Xbox, sat down with Michael French, Head of Games London and Director of London Games Festival, for a Fireside Chat on the industry leader's position and outlook in the current Games market.
Bond outlined the strength of the UK Games industry as a key reason why Microsoft and Xbox currently have 4 games studios in the UK. Employing over 1000 industry talents, Bond revealed how most of their UK team are games developers, bringing their brightest ideas and concepts to the global interactive games market.
"Gaming is the seminal media. We can show that there's way more that connects us than divides us through gaming."
Emphasising this point further, Bond spoke on how creating open access to all in the Games sector, allows new interactive content to be created that puts the user right behind the lens of other people's perspectives; helping us directly experience what others do, bringing us closer together as a result.
Bond then shed light on two key Games industry topics: Mobile Gaming and Monetisation. With the intention of empowering developers with freedom in game design, flexible monetisation models across Microsoft's games catalogue, such as the Xbox Games Pass, allow developers to take ''greater creative risk'' by monetising games however they deem fit for their own creative purposes.
The next big theme covered was Mobile Gaming. Did you know that 90% of gaming worldwide takes place on mobile devices?! Bond hailed this statistic as a key motivation behind Xbox's recent announcement that they would be merging with Activision as part of a new acquisition for the Games industry leader.
Games at the intersection of London's thriving creative industries
The Conference also included expert presentations from a range of industry delegates such as Steven Bailey from Omdia, who talked the room through the games industry in relation to the changing global economy. On the flip side, Samantha Ebelthite from Outright Games and Felix Barrett from Punchdrunk, spoke on how games themselves have changed the landscape of the creative sector's economy.
Punchdrunk, a unique immersive theatre company, present a fascinating site within the UK's creative sector. With immersive theatre experiencing a boom in popularity recently, Barrett explained how the company uses a small film studio to create a virtual theatre, taking inspiration from, and literally creating, a ''live-action'' video game. It was great to hear first-hand how the interactive Games sector successfully merges itself within other creative industries.
Also at the intersection of our screen industries, Film London has recently announced a new collaboration with interactive games studio Electric Noir, to bring the worlds of Games and Film and TV even closer. Read more about this exciting opportunity in collaboration with Film London Labs and Electric Noir here.
Moving on to the next level of the Festival, we headed to the W.A.S.D. Expo at the Truman Brewery where we met more Games Festival attendees who are working across the lines of London's thriving and diverse creative sectors. Amidst the excitement of brand new games and popular exhibiters such as PlayStation, London-based skills and training providers Next Gen Skills Academy and Escape Studios were present to tell us more about their work. By providing educational programmes in Game Art, Animation, VFX and more, both Escape Studios and Next Gen Skills Academy presented another exciting vector from which our screen sectors intersect; as Games, Film, TV and Animation each play a vital role in London's thriving creative industry.
As a member of the Mayor of London's Creative Skills Academy along with Film London's Equal Access Network, Next Gen Skills Academy are one of many key skills providers to our creative sector. They partner with film and TV industry leaders such as Framestore and Industrial Light & Magic to upskill emerging talent in London and the UK across Games, Film and TV production. Similarly, Escape Studios work with academic and creative industry partners, such as Screen Skills, throughout the UK to train the next generation of talent and help our industries tackle creative skills challenges.
The annual Games Finance Market also took place at W.A.S.D. during the Festival. Games developers and studios got the chance to meet with investors and leading games publishers to discuss collaboration on new projects. The in-person meetings at the Market are a signature part of the Games Festival every year, setting the foundations for many new Game projects.
Highlights from the W.A.S.D. Games Expo and the Ensemble Showcase
As part of the London Games Festival, The W.A.S.D. Games Expo took place from 30th March to 1st April at Truman Brewery London. The expo had over 200 playable screens and over 80 playable games including games from the Festival's Official 2023 Selection, as well as brand-new indie games that have never been seen before! The event featured different types of playable games from tabletop to PC and VR! Large features and games installations were also presented by PlayStation, Plaion, Devolver Digital, Wargamer, Curios Indie Game Showcase, and more. According to W.A.S.D., this has been their most successful event to date, with record numbers and incredible feedback from the industry.
The fifth edition of Ensemble was also presented across London Games Festival, highlighting the importance of a diverse Games industry. Ensemble is an acclaimed showcase of UK game professionals from Black, Asian, and underrepresented ethnicities. Since 2018 Ensemble, a flagship feature of the London Games Festival, has been celebrating the achievements of underrepresented talent in the sector. Eight individuals are selected each year that have worked on influential games and are working to change the perception of what a creator is in the Games industry, paving the way for a future generation of diverse creators.
The 2023 cohort full of up-and-coming names was unveiled on Thursday 30 March at the start of the London Games Festival. The exhibition debuted at the W.A.S.D. Expo before moving to an outdoor installation unveiled at Trafalgar Square from Wednesday 5 April.
The exhibition is proudly supported by Jagex, Playstation and was curated by multi-award-winning author Sharna Jackson. Ensemble will tour the UK with accompanying profile videos of the talent, so look out for and meet the 2023 cohort here!
Games London is supported by the Mayor of London and delivered by Film London in partnership with Ukie