In a first for the UK, Gary Burchell from Fireblade Software and Sam Read from Enterprise M3 have been working together with Guildford’s games industry to establish a dedicated Steam page for the cluster.
48 games from more than 27 different studios are featured on the
page and some will even be discounted for sale during Guildford Games Festival. The
page will be featured on the front page of Steam for the festival’s duration,
leading to tens of millions of new views for the Festival and Guildford’s
It was during the inaugural Guildford Games Festival in 2019 that Gary was first inspired by the idea. On how the idea came about, Gary said;
“I was keen to create something that had a tangible benefit to local games companies, ideally something that resulted in more visibility for our games. Around that time, the frequency of cross-publisher sales on Steam was increasing, and it seemed like we had the ideal ingredients for our own Guildford-themed version: a varied list of developers and games already on the platform, including some titles from big publishers and games that had sold millions of copies.”
Shortly afterwards Gary approached Valve Corporation, the founders of Steam, to explain his idea. After being provided with the tools to make it happen, he reached out to the organisers of Guildford Games Festival for assistance signing up as many local developers as possible. As a Local Enterprise Partnership, Enterprise M3 were perfectly positioned to help realise the project through organisational support and access to its network of local game development studios. On getting the page populated with games, Gary remembers;
“Sam immediately saw the full potential of this idea and together, we began contacting every games studio with a GU postcode and signing them up. Through his history of delivering initiatives for our local games industry, Sam had the relationships needed to compliment my own. He also did a lot of detective work chasing down the IP owners of games made in Guildford whose developers were no longer active. It was important that we got big games as well as lots of smaller ones on the page so that Valve could see the value it would provide to their players.”
From initial inception to the page going live this week, the entire process took the pair around 18 months to complete. With so much of Guildford’s game development history featured on the page and Guildford Games Festival 2020 set to be broadcast there, Valve were motivated enough to feature the page on the front of their store for the festivals duration. Sam remembers the moment that Gary gave him the good news;
"I have long since believed that through coming together and better representing itself as a whole, Guildford’s games industry would become even more successful than it already is. When Gary told me that Valve would be featuring our Steam page, I was excited to have the proof of my theory. Visibility like this is incredibly valuable for game developers, particularly the smaller ones. This project puts some of the biggest games on Steam alongside games like Squillamorph, developed by a recent graduate from the UCA game incubator. It helps make Guildford fertile ground for new game developers to succeed. It provides a new reason for game developers to establish themselves here.”
While the page represents a first for the UK, Sam explained that Guildford has a history of innovating with Steam as a platform;
“It feels very appropriate that Guildford should be the first UK games cluster with a dedicated presence on Steam. The first third-party game ever distributed on the platform was made in Guildford and published there in 2005. We will be sharing that story in more detail, along with many others, through Guildford Games Festival on November 13th and 14th. With the Festival being broadcast on the new Steam page, it’s fun to see things come full circle.
Much credit is due to Gary for turning his deep knowledge of Steam into an idea that benefits all of Guildford’s games industry. An artist from his studio produced the artwork you will find on our Steam page, which we both agree was the most enjoyable part of the project. There are nods to Guildford’s games industry history hidden amongst some of the town’s most defining features.
As a Local Enterprise Partnership, it’s Enterprise M3’s job to bring together each of the different parts of our local economy, in order to help make projects like this possible. ”
See if you can find all 14 references to Guildford's games industry within the artwork, by visiting the Steam page.