A view from the Brighton Pier: insights from Develop 2022


Develop Brighton was, once again, a fun, informative experience – and this year complemented by the heatwave we’ve all been experiencing. At one point it felt very much like that level in Mario where the Sun is chasing you, but the Expo seemed to account for this – with an ice cream truck outside the venue handing out free 99s, the stands inside all having their own branded baseball caps, and Team 17 even handing out branded sun cream. 

Max Daniels
Senior Account Manager

But on top of the merch and the game demos on display, there were also some really interesting trends to be spotted at Develop 2022. These topics all demonstrated that the days of the gaming industry existing in its own closed-off world are long gone – something that brings a mix of positives and challenges for the sector. 


Not just a gamers’ market

Non-gaming brands have been entering into the space for a long time now, but what was very apparent at Develop was that organisations that weren’t purely making or publishing games are being more proactive about attending these industry events. Animation studios were next to well-known developers, and publishers were mingling with AI modelling startups. Unlike other games industry events, Develop 2022 felt a lot more diverse in terms of the companies and people there. 

It’s likely that two main factors have influenced this trend – diversification and recruitment. 

Given the significant growth of the gaming industry – and increased awareness through eSports and the metaverse – the wider market is paying closer attention to the opportunities the sector presents. As a result, smaller companies are delivering tailored solutions that respond to problems the industry faces – everything from reducing lag and latency on multiplayer games through edge computing to modelling the economy of a virtual environment before it goes live. 

More broadly, the wider tech scene is experiencing a huge demand for talent – especially from developers. Sectors within tech can no longer search within a small pool of candidates that have direct experience within their industry. As a result, we’re seeing more tech brands looking to different disciplines, opening up their candidate pool to non-PhD students, and exploring other avenues for new talent. Gaming is no different, and with the previous criticisms the sector has faced around crunch and wellbeing, other brands are keen to promote the opportunities present for developers in similar roles such as animation. 

These trends combined to create an interesting environment of different companies and individuals keen to collaborate, network, and invest in one another. 


Keeping things fund-amental 

On the subject of investment, this remains a key focus for studios. However, for smaller studios, there is a natural uncertainty about how they go about securing funding. There have already been numerous success stories – from Hollow Knight to FTL – that have secured funding through crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter. This can make it easy to disregard more established investment opportunities, especially when the studio may not be used to producing the formal information that VCs would normally require. 

Nevertheless, there is a huge opportunity to invest in gaming. The market continues to grow rapidly, and a broader range of games are available than ever before. Developers actively considering VC investment will need to create a compelling case and position themselves clearly to these parties if they want to take advantage of the growing interest. 


Romancing the publisher 

However, wooing a VC is not the only courting they have to do. Developers – especially indie teams – are always looking to draw in a publisher to help promote and raise the profile of their new IP. Just like securing investment, appealing to publishers is underpinned by a compelling proposition and networking. Develop is an exciting space where developers mingle with publishers, discuss their game, and try to secure interest. 

There is a tricky balance for developers to strike in appealing to publishers. On the one hand, it’s important for the IP to stand out in the market, having its own unique identity and proposition that will shine through in a crowded environment. However, given the amount of time and money needed to design and launch a game, publishers also want assurances that the product will succeed when it goes to market – something it’s not always easy to provide for an original product without clear precedents.

As a result, developers are also trying to justify how their latest IP will factor into the popular trends present in the ecosystem – this ranges from the mechanics being used, the art style, the genre, and even what’s going on in the wider entertainment space. This can make it doubly hard for developers as they look to find that sweet spot of standing out from the crowd while still remaining in vogue with the trends of the sector. 



Overall, these trends show the growing integration of gaming within the wider tech and financial ecosystem. While this provides increased visibility and legitimacy to the sector, it also means that other players are able to get involved – making the market increasingly competitive. Standing out from the crowd – whether it’s by being a compelling employer, launching an innovative (yet safe) IP into the market, or appealing to investors, remains a top priority for all those in gaming. 

If you’re interested in seeing how we can help you stand out from the crowd – get in touch here