Team17’s expansion into the US marks a milestone in the company’s growth and benefits everyone from the publisher itself to the developers it represents globally. Jem Alexander finds out how
As one of the oldest remaning names from the early das of the UK games industry, Team17's growth in recent years contrasts starkly against a backdrop of UK studio closures. A move into the US is the latest in the company’s ongoing expansion as it cements its place as a major games ‘label’.
“We have entered our next step of growth,” says CEO Debbie Bestwick. “Last year we had a very solid performance and achieved all our targets, as well as bringing a minority shareholder on board in LDC which allowed us to escalate our global expansion plans. Our priorities remain the same: great games for our games label, helping create sustainable businesses for our partners and to work harder on our next releases.”
These plans involve the opening of a US office, which will only highlight Team17’s position on the world stage. “Yes, we’re a UK based company with our heritage and wider reputation in Europe, but we’ve been publishing games globally for years now,” says Bestwick. “The US is so unique; of course there’s a concentration of industry on the west coast but it’s such a huge territory with dev talent clustered far and wide.”
We’re developers at heart, this is how we approach the whole process.
Debbie Bestwick, Team17 CEO
Having a physical presence on the continent allows Team17 to better integrate with the US games industry, which helps not only with signing global talent, but also allows for better communication with platform holders. “The benefits lie across many areas, from being able to be face to face more frequently with first party, commercial partners and of course development teams and just to benefit from the “radio chatter” on the ground,” explains Bestwick.
Debbie feels that Team17’s unique value proposition will appeal to US devs just as it has to the talent it’s partnered with back home in the UK. “Our philosophy differs to anyone else who calls themselves a publisher,” she says. “This is why we bill ourselves as a ‘label’. It’s not just a synonym for “publisher”. We’re developers at heart, this is how we approach the whole process.
“We collaborate with external partners to bring independent titles to market with in-house development support services on console, home computers and mobile. Our 26 years expertise as a developer allows us to offer a customisable range of services depending on what developers need from our games label. We’re able to offer services such as development support, along with QA, usability testing, incubation services, community management, production, marketing, PR, lifecycle management, business support and more!
"We've always stressed we wanted to build a label that we ourselves would have been happy to partner with. We like to think what we, along with our partners, are building is a new way for partnerships to evolve and collaborate."
So why is now the righ time to push forward into other continents? “It’s not so much we’ve picked a ‘right time’ - it’s down to the hard work, time and investment into Team17’s label and setting ourselves up to succeed in an era where it’s an exciting time to be independent!” says Bestwick.
“The barriers to entry have never been so low for any serious contender. There are such a variety of business models, distribution channels and even software development tools. This is what’s exciting for us - creativity is flourishing in a variety of genres with games created by both ‘one-man bands’ and larger teams. There are so many opportunities out there, so of course we will look to continue expansion in our development, commercial operations and portfolio.”
“We already work with incredibly talented developers in the US and we plan to have a major presence at GDC with our most recent US partner who has recently signed,” Bestwick says.