Train2Game News PLAY Expo Manchester 2019

PLAY Expo, the north’s biggest videogames event, is returning to Manchester for the seventh time on May 4th and 5th.

Taking place in a new, bigger venue, PLAY Expo will be held at the Manchester Central Exhibition Centre and will welcome over 25,000 videogames fans through the doors for two days of gaming brilliance.

The perfect day out for games enthusiasts of all ages, with everything from blockbuster game previews to indie games, retro classics, eSports, cosplay, escape rooms, education, live shows, industry panels and YouTuber meet and greets.

PLAY Expo Manchester boasts nearly one thousand gaming consoles, handhelds, PCs, arcade and pinball machines, all playing the very best in new and classic videogames – and all set to free to play! The event also features a huge Minecraft zone, a Fortnite zone, a dedicated VR area and a selection of the best and brightest indie games from recent years.

On the Expo stages, you will find talks from gaming celebrities, cosplay displays and tournaments for gamers of all skill levels. You will also find immersive live experiences, including John Robertson’s critically acclaimed ‘The Dark Room’ and ‘Knightmare Live’, the celebrated stage adaptation of the 80s-90s cult TV show Knightmare.

Twitch channel ‘Streamers Connected’ will be broadcasting live from the show across both days, bringing viewers at home the best content, interviews and action from the north’s biggest gaming event.

Andy Brown, Managing Director of Replay Events said: “We are super excited to be bringing PLAY Expo back to Manchester at an even bigger arena. The PLAY Expo community is incredible, we know that 80% of our visitors do not visit any other gaming event in the UK. Our attendees love the mix of new and old games, stage talks, special events, cosplay and competitions. If you love games, you can’t afford to miss PLAY Expo Manchester.”

Industry trade body UKIE will be hosting ’30 Years Of Play’ at this year’s show. Inviting visitors to remember the British games that have shaped the industry over the last 30 years, including a retro gaming championship featuring classic British games from years gone by.

George Osborn, Campaign Manager, 30 Years of Play said: “We’re excited to be partnering up with PLAY Expo for its retro gaming championship. The video games sector has always been defined by a close relationship between players and developers. The retro gaming championship offers a brilliant opportunity to do just that, while also celebrating some of the best of British videogames from the past 30 years.”

Publishers and developers who wish to exhibit their games at PLAY Expo should contact Andy Brown now on andy.brown@replayevents.com.

Tickets cost: Adults £20, Child £14, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £58 per day or Adults £34, Child £24, Family £96 for the Weekend ticket and can be bought from playexpomanchester.com.

Train2Game News Batman The Animated Series Add On

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today released Batman: The Animated Series Level Pack for LEGO® DC Super-Villains.

In celebration of Batman’s 80th Anniversary, the pack adds a new crime-fighting level inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, the ground-breaking, Emmy Award-winning series famous for its film noir aesthetics, intelligent and intricate stories, and stylized presentation.

Players can roam Gotham City with seven newly-added characters whose origins were famously modernized in the series including The Phantasm, Captain Clown, Man-Bat, Mad-Hatter, Batman, The Joker, and Harley Quinn.

The Phantasm is the secret villainous identity of Andrea Beaumont, a love interest of Bruce Wayne’s prior to him becoming Batman, she is set on avenging her father’s death at the hands of a mysterious mob member, who winds up becoming The Joker. She dons an outfit reminiscent of the Grim Reaper and wears a smoke-generating device and scythe-bladed gauntlet.

Captain Clown appeared in the series as an android programmed to be a loyal subject to The Joker and an enemy to Batman. As a villainous robot with unique artificial intelligence, its strength always presented a challenge for Batman to defeat.

Man-Bat was the first villain to appear in the pilot episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Afflicted with a disease that threatened to leave him deaf, Dr Kirk Langstrom devised an experimental cure that merged the DNA of humans and bats. After testing it on himself, however, the cure backfired and transformed him into a giant bat-like creature.

The Mad Hatter began as timid scientist Jervis Tetch who was experimenting with mind control technology for Wayne Enterprises. Attempting to impress a love interest, he dresses as the Mad Hatter character from his favourite storybook and uses his mind control technology to brainwash people to do his bidding.

Batman (Bruce Wayne) pledged his life to an endless crusade against all criminals when his parents were taken from him a kid so that what happened to him will never happen again to anyone else. A self-made Super Hero who has no Super Powers, Bruce travelled the world focused on training both his body and mind to near physical perfection and when the time was right, he returned to Gotham City donning the Cape and Cowl becoming Batman. Using his incredible skills and abilities coupled with an arsenal of gadgets and cutting-edge technology, Batman keeps a watchful, protective eye over the citizens of Gotham City, especially against costumed criminals like The Joker.

Known as Batman’s main arch-nemesis, The Joker is an unpredictably nefarious criminal who uses every evil trick his mind can muster to try to destroy Batman and take over Gotham City. In Batman: The Animated Series, The Joker starts out completing criminal jobs for the mob and is cornered by Batman during an attempted robbery at the Ace Chemical Plant. He falls into a vat of chemicals disfiguring him and further warping his mind, giving birth to The Joker.

The notorious and iconic Harley Quinn made her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series when she and Joker attempted to plot against Commissioner Gordon only to be stopped by Batman. Psychologist Dr Harlene Quinzel began her career at Arkham Asylum, and it was there she first met The Joker. While trying to psychoanalyze what made the clown tick, he turned the tables and toyed with her mind and she ultimately helped him escape becoming his criminal sidekick and love interest, Harley Quinn.

Batman: The Animated Series level pack is part of the Season Pass included in the LEGO DC Super-Villains Deluxe Edition available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.

For more game information, visit chaos-is-coming.wbgames.com and follow the official LEGO® DC Super-Villains social channels on Facebook and YouTube, and @LEGODCGAME on Instagram and Twitter.

For 80 years, the Dark Knight has stood as a symbol of determination, bravery and justice to generations of fans. Since appearing in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS #27 on March 30, 1939, Batman continues to leave his mark in every form of entertainment imaginable. Appearing in countless comics, animation, television, films, video games, toys and other products, he remains the single most popular superhero. He would not be complete without the most iconic gadgets and of course, the Batmobile; not to mention, an unparalleled rogues gallery.

Batman is humanity’s timeless hero and he’s just getting started.

Fans can join in on social media using the hashtag #Batman80 and #LongLiveTheBat. Visit http://www.Batman80.com for the latest news and updates.

Train2Game News AR Harry Potter Revealed

WB Games and Niantic are excited to share the first gameplay details for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the new augmented reality (AR) mobile game that puts magic in the hands of aspiring wizards and witches worldwide.

Co-published and co-developed by WB Games San Francisco and Niantic, Inc., Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is part of Portkey Games, the games label dedicated to creating new Wizarding World mobile and video game experiences that place the player at the centre of their own adventure, inspired by J.K. Rowling’s original stories.

In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the player’s journey begins as a new recruit for the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, with the purpose of investigating and containing a Calamity that has befallen the wizarding world. Witches and wizards from across the globe must come together to cast spells and return Foundables – artefacts, creatures, people, and even memories – trapped by Confoundable magic, to their proper place in an effort to keep magic hidden from Muggle eyes.

As players journey across the world, they’ll discover Inns that replenish their Spell Energy, magical ingredients for brewing special potions, Portkeys that unlock AR portals into iconic wizarding world locations and much more.

Combat skills will be tested when witches and wizards visit real-world locations called Fortresses, key areas that play host to Wizarding Challenges. These real-time multiplayer battles against dangerous foes encourage players to join forces with fellow witches and wizards to take on higher level threats and unlock rare magical rewards.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is coming to iOS and Android mobile devices in 2019. Pre-registration is now available on Google Play.

Train2Game News New UK Games Companies Opening

Games technology company Improbable today announces that it has commenced development of its own online multiplayer games, powered by SpatialOS, with game development in two studio locations.

These and future Improbable studios will create cutting-edge games for release, whilst spearheading major technological advancements that will be fundamental to improving the tools and techniques for our partner network.

Improbable’s game development will be initiated by its internal games studio based in Edmonton, fronted by Aaryn Flynn, former head of studio on BioWare’s Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect franchises. Improbable also announces the creation of a London-based games studio, which will be led by new hire John Wasilczyk, previously Executive Producer at Epic Games and EA DICE.

Herman Narula, co-founder and CEO at Improbable, says:

“As our network of partners has grown we’ve come to work with an incredible range of studios and projects. We see our internal studios as a way to further support these partners by pushing technical and creative boundaries and then sharing those learnings with our developer community.

“We look forward to seeing what our highly talented studios – in Edmonton, London and other locations in the future – will bring not only to players but also to the continued growth and development of SpatialOS.”

The SpatialOS platform allows for rapid iteration and the ability to develop beyond a single server to create highly innovative games. The first untitled project is in development at the Edmonton studio, which already has around 50 staff covering art, game design, programming and tool development and is continuing to grow. Meanwhile, Improbable’s London-based game studio is building a team from current Improbable employees and new hires.

Improbable is initially announcing these studios but is also interested in founding or growing other studios in additional locations and supporting remote teams.

Aaryn Flynn, Improbable’s General Manager of North America, comments:

“I was interested in making a game using SpatialOS from the very first time I spoke to Improbable. Building tools and content has been a great way for our Edmonton team to master SpatialOS, but a full game was always an opportunity myself and others had in mind as the Edmonton studio took shape. Now, after a lot of great hires and great progress, we’re going to focus on creating that game using Unreal Engine 4 and building on SpatialOS’ next-generation online games platform.

“We’ve grown fast but we’re still looking for additional team members in Engineering, Art, Design and QA to build out our team further. As things progress, we’re excited to show you more in the future.”

Improbable will be at GDC 2019 to discuss the company’s move into game development, as well as the evolution of SpatialOS and its applications for developers.

It is hosting two panels in which they’ll discuss how developers can leverage SpatialOS to create the next generation of multiplayer games.

How to Build a 200-Person FPS in 20 minutes and Building Unreal Worlds with SpatialOS, are hosted by games industry leaders such as Aaryn Flynn (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) and Josh Holmes (Halo franchise, Def Jam Vendetta) along with Improbable’s own Herman Narula (co-founder & CEO) and Rob Whitehead (co-founder & Chief Product Officer).

Train2Game News Medical Gaming Gains Atari Alumni

Level Ex, creators of industry-leading video games for doctors, announced today the hiring of former Atari Chief Operating Officer, Todd Shallbetter, as Senior Vice President, Technology Partnerships.

Shallbetter will be leading strategic partnerships with global platform providers and technology companies, including virtual reality and augmented reality hardware and software manufacturers.

Shallbetter brings to Level Ex decades of operating experience from the business side of entertainment and games, having served at Atari for 14 years—first as Head of Digital Strategy and Distribution, then as the Chief Operating Officer, during which he oversaw business development, marketing, and operations functions. He expanded the brand’s reach to over 160 countries through multi-year distribution and licensing deals and grew Atari’s user base by tens of millions of players through its recent titles. Prior to Atari, Shallbetter worked in live entertainment—managing touring businesses for marquee entertainers, including Tina Turner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Harlem Globetrotters—then shifted to managing entertainment merchandising entities.

“With his broad relationships across the video games industry, Todd is exceedingly qualified to identify best-in-class game technologies and help Level Ex unleash them onto the field of medicine,” said Sam Glassenberg, Founder and CEO of Level Ex. “Level Ex has consistently attracted top talent from the games industry across a range of disciplines: art, production, game design, and development. With Todd joining, that roster expands to include business and operations leadership.”

Shallbetter echoed Glassenberg’s enthusiasm:

“I had been following Level Ex closely, so when the opportunity came up to work for them, it was a resounding yes. The calibre of the team is incredible, with standout executives and game developers. They make fun video games to improve physician performance, turning entertainment into a credible tool for learning in ways nobody else has done before. I’m thrilled to push this important mission into new markets.”

Shallbetter joins Level Ex on the heels of tremendous growth. As one of the fastest growing independent video game studios, Level Ex is projected to double their employees in 2019; to date, Level Ex has announced $15M in Seed and Series A financing. The company has released three game titles—Airway Ex, Gastro Ex, and Pulm Ex—with a fourth launching later this month: Cardio Ex. Multiple games are currently in development.

Level Ex’s team unites talent from top game studios—including Electronic Arts, Activision, LucasArts, Telltale Games, and Warner Bros Interactive—with expert physicians and surgeons from leading academic hospitals to develop the company’s medical video games.

To learn more about Level Ex’s products, executive team, and career opportunities, visit www.level-ex.com.

Train2Game News Devs.tv launches March 1st

Devs.tv will launch its new gaming industry platform on March 1st and starts a completely new streaming talk show at the same time.

Devs Talk is a new gaming industry talk show hosted by Devs.tv.

The first show of the first season will be streamed on March 1st at http://future.devs.tv.

The date is carefully picked to coincide with a National Futures Day in Finland. Great industry leading panelists will talk about the future of games and what are the key trends of the gaming industry in 2020-2030.

Devs Talk is a free monthly streaming show with new themes and guests each month. The show is produced in Helsinki, Finland at Devs.tv Studio.

The first show’s panelists are Adnan Selimovic (Founder of Data United and researcher in data science and user psychology), KooPee Hiltunen (Director of the Finnish game industry hub NeoGames), Natasha Bulatovic Trygg (Game developer, Entrepreneur, Academic & Teacher, Chairperson of IGDA Finland) and Vesa Raudasoja (Chairman of IGDA.org and Founder of Devs.tv). The host of the show is Björn Lindholm (Game Dev Company).

The first show’s agenda on March 1st is the following: 10.00 EST / 15.00 GMT / 17.00 EET: Welcoming words 10.05 EST / 15.05 GMT / 17.05 EET: Panel Introduction 10.15 EST / 15.15 GMT / 17.15 EET: Panel Discussion 11.30 EST / 16.30 GMT / 18.30 EET: Q&A with the panel 12.15 EST / 17.15 GMT / 19.15 EET: End of the stream

Devs.tv will be the primary resource and toolkit for anyone interested in the gaming industry. More info will follow on March 1st.

Train2Game News UK Games Consultancy

Award-winning industry pioneers Philip and Andrew Oliver today announce the launch of their new games consultancy business Game Dragons.

It follows their recent departure as studio heads of Rebellion Warwick.

Game Dragons aims to offer professional, impartial advice across a wide array of games industry business and technical fields but will be focused on delivering consultancy services to scale-up developers, investors and brand holders.

The brothers have been a leading part of the UK games industry since its inception in the early 1980s. Over the following 35+ years, they have established and run three companies, employed over 600 people and been responsible for creating over 160 games across all platforms, selling over 45 million units with a retail value in excess of £1.2bn.

They founded and ran the award-winning Blitz Games Studios for 23 years, and went on to sell their next business, Radiant Worlds, to Rebellion in 2017 for a multi-million-pound sum. They were founder members of trade association TIGA and BGI, and have been regular long-term high-level advisors to a variety of trade bodies, government agencies and business organisations.

Philip Oliver is excited by the new venture, “We’ve always been happy to informally support and advise other people as they build their businesses, and have been lucky enough to receive some of the same support from others, but it’s not always easy to do that when you’re bound by your own clients’ needs and NDAs. We’re now looking forward to being able to share our experiences in a truly independent way, and help people to succeed.”

Andrew Oliver agrees: “We’ve worked with some of the biggest publishing, technology, entertainment and software companies over our years in business, and we’ve seen a lot of things come and go. We know that this industry can be unpredictable and ever-evolving so we feel we’re perfectly placed to help other companies navigate their futures.”

To find out more visit www.GameDragons.com

Train2Game News Games Finance Market 2019

Momentum is building behind the upcoming fourth annual Games Finance Market, part of London Games Festival, which has secured participation from a number of world-renowned investors and game funders.

60 different investors are expected to attend the event on 3 and 4 April in central London, running during the wider 2-14 April 2019 London Games Festival. The event has grown in popularity since its 2016 debut and continues to attract investor heavyweights looking to fund new games businesses and hear innovative pitches.

Recent research has shown that the global appetite for games investments is soaring, with $5.7bn spent on games companies in 2018 – double the amount in 2017.

New to the Market in 2019 are a range of established world-famous investors who haven’t visited before but have been attracted to London and the Games Festival by its unique mix of talent, culture and cost-effectiveness. These include Accel, Balderton Capital, BigBen Interactive, Chucklefish, DMM, ExWorks Capital, Finstock Capital, Gameforge, Kowloon Nights, Private Division, and Triple Dragon.

They join other previously-confirmed attendees including All 4 Games, Altered VC, Authentic Media Group, BFI, Curve Digital, Goldfinch Entertainment, Greenlight Games, Green Man Gaming Publishing, ID@Xbox, Microsoft, London Venture Partners, Marvelous Europe, Miniclip, Northern Ireland Screen, PlayStack and SEGA.

Developers can still apply to be part of the market and get a chance to meet these visiting investors – more information can be found at http://gfm.games.london, while the deadline to apply is midnight GMT on Monday, 18 February 2019.

The Games Finance Market is part of London Games Festival and is backed by the Mayor of London. It is delivered by Games London, an initiative from Film London, the capital’s screen industries agency, and video games trade body Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment).

Find out more at www.games.london and follow @londongamesfest for more updates over the coming weeks and months.

Train2Game News Casual Connect 2019

After a successful event in 2018, Casual Connect is coming back to The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, UK on May 28-30, 2019.

At Casual Connect Europe 2019, all attendees get access to three days of lectures, official networking parties, and 90 of the world’s best indie games with developers.

Organized in part by CGA and Greenlit Content, the venue will also feature a large expo area where you can talk one-on-one with industry-leading companies.

Casual Connect brings together the most talented and knowledgeable experts in the gaming field to further the industry with the best learning and networking opportunities for gaming professionals since 2005 four times every year in USA, Asia, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Additionally, all attendees have unlimited access to our meeting and scheduling app to network with games industry professionals like yourself.

INDIE PRIZE SUBMISSION DEADLINE

More than 1,500 developers apply to Indie Prize during the year and judges from throughout the games industry select the most promising games to participate at international Indie Prize showcases during Casual Connect conferences. Submit your game for the international Indie Prize London 2019 scholarship program before March 20 with more details can be found in the submission form.

You can also join industry leaders as an established developer with the Developer showcase.

For more information visit Casual Connect.

Train2Game News 2018 Game Investment Doubles

Digi-Capital’s Games Report Q1 2019 tracked games companies raising $5.7 billion in 2018, which was over twice the previous record investment from 2017.

Tim Sweeney’s Epic Games’ $1.25 billion was not only the largest round raised last year, it was the largest non-IPO games investment of all time. The only larger single amount raised by a games company was when Netmarble Games held its IPO in 2017. Even that record might not survive given Fortnite’s extraordinary performance.

As a sign of both financial muscle and the need to expand beyond core markets, Tencent was either a major shareholder in or investor in four of the top five deals last year. As we’ve discussed before, this is becoming a familiar pattern. Tencent was behind investments in Douyu ($630 million raised), Shanda Games ($474 million) and Huya ($462 million raised). France’s Voodoo raised $200 million from Goldman Sachs to round out the top five.

11 other companies also raised $100 million plus rounds last year, with more in the single millions to tens of millions range. By far the largest categories for investors were mobile and games tech/other (particularly streaming), each of which took around one third of investment dollars last year. MMO/MOBA games, eSports, console/PC games and AR/VR games companies also raised significant amounts.

The games acquisitions market was also on fire in 2018, with over $22 billion games M&A making it the second highest year on record. Games M&A dollars are always dominated by mega-deals, which last year included Naspers selling 2% of Tencent for over $10 billion dollars for a 60,000% return, and Tencent and others acquiring Vivendi’s $2 billion plus stake in Ubisoft.

Zhejiang Century Huatong acquired Shenyue Network (the online games affiliate of Shanda Games) for $4.4 billion, PAI Partners picked up Asmodee Digital for $1.4 billion, and Aristocrat closed its Big Fish Games deal for nearly $1 billion. There were another eight acquisitions in the $100 million plus range, and more in the single millions to tens of millions range.

Unsurprisingly, mobile dominated acquisition activity last year as it did the year before. MMO/MOBA and console/PC made up most of the rest of the acquisitions market. The games market as a whole is incredibly consolidated, with the top 10 public (i.e. stock market listed) games companies taking over three quarters of public games company revenue and around four fifths of public game company valuations worldwide (note: this is not all market revenue/valuation, as privately held companies are also significant). The big keep getting bigger.

Over the last decade, games IPOs have gone through three year repeating cycles where one huge year is followed by two quiet ones. The last high came in the record year for games IPOs in 2017, with games IPOs in 2018 raising around 90% less than that high point (as Digi-Capital anticipated at the start of last year). While it’s too early to tell, if the 3 year cycle repeats in the same way 2019 could also see muted games IPO activity.

In such a highly consolidated, hit driven market, the level of games deal activity last year was extraordinary. Again it is too early to tell whether this year will continue in a similar vein, or if the cyclical nature of deal-making might see the market pull back. One thing’s for sure, it’s not going to be dull.

(Full details and all transactions in Digi-Capital’s new 258 page Games Report Q1 2019)