Who you need to reach out to and why
Understand Your Target Groups
Basically, this concerns incubation or acceleration programmes that need to be financed, either through public funding or through income, e.g. privately financed by the participating teams. Could be a mix.
No matter which model, you need to control the target group relations on the long run. It might be more obvious for privately financed programmes, but it is as important for public funded programmes, even though the might be limited through funding interests and conditions.
There are also more obvious (direct) target groups and less obvious (indirect) target groups.
The direct target groups are the ones you want to work with as clients of your programme, the indirect target groups is who you want to convince of the quality of your programme to receive support (e.g. mentors, publishers and investors for the teams, funding for your programme, the game community and key actors in the industry to recommend you).
From discussions with experienced game developers, we know that there is often this problem about having too many teams (because of restricted capacities to cover more teams) and struggling to fill a quota (as success indicator to receive further funding). The seeming contradiction lies in the “type of team”: hence one might have too many teams because your funding does not allow you to reject teams easily, and too little of the kind of teams that you want to support, e.g. those that actually are promising and already show some game business acumen. It is the latter ones that will ultimately build your renown: because they succeed and they are likely to return the favour as an alumni either by becoming a mentor or an investor.
If an incubator is directly funded by a regional authority or indirectly through a larger organisation (university or science/tech park), then the funding conditions dictate that you take on only residents or companies registered in the region. If this is the case, you either need to orient your programmes to the level of game development competences that are most common in the region (e.g. do you mainly cater from a campus, school or a technical community or a pool of amateurs?) or find ways for game developers to move to your region. In any case, this will determine the type of programme you will offer.
Another approach could be to emphasise an international perspective, in your programme, with transnational projects (e.g. young entrepreneurship programmes from the EU, or exchange programmes through Erasmus+) or collaborate with other regional incubation programmes.
The game market ranks amongst the fastest growing global mainstream markets with sales revenues increasing substantially every year. On the world ranking list for consumer spending on games, China is taking the lead, not too far behind are the United States, third is Japan. The others in the top ten are currently South Korea, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain and Italy.
Countries with extremely large populations such as China may focus on their home market. European countries though, with few exceptions, have negligible home markets. Therefore, they need to orient themselves towards the global market. However, this offers an opportunity. It encourages young talents to “think globally” right from the start, when creating their games.
On the other hand, it means that game incubation needs to meet the challenge of preparing young game developers or companies for the global market. Therefore, game incubation tuition needs to target internationalisation of the game developers’ creative and entrepreneurial skills.
Although incubators we have interviewed as part of the BGI project1EU-Interreg project Baltic Game Industry: http://baltic-games.eu/ tend to assert that their training is intrinsically international, it is worthwhile reflecting on the implications of “international game incubation” as a “standardised” approach.
Basically, this could encompass a series of possible approaches, such as …
- … catering to teams, coaches and mentors from abroad, or mixed teams from the incubator’s region,
- … offering programmes on topics such as international law, market conditions, culturalisation2Pioneered by Kate Edwards (see Geogrify: http://www.geogrify.com/about/), IP and localisation,
- … introducing the teams to international audiences at e.g. conferences, jams, award contests and pitching events.
There is one approach that has been gaining a lot of traction: the transnational co-production approach done by Spielfabrique3 https://spielfabrique.eu/. They invite teams from other countries to meet with their German teams in a 2-day workshop where they meet with a group of business developers, investors but also with other teams to check out co-production opportunities (both in terms of funding their projects from two countries and of co-production to enhance the game project by combining complementary strengths of two teams).