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How to fix UK plc: The exporting game

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There are new faster mobile phones and tablets, different PC technology with thousands of combinations of software and hardware, games consoles, and a consumer who simply wants more and better all the time – feeling entitled to get it as fast as possible.

As one of Europe’s leading games developer’s, Rebellion has to work in a fast moving, technologically chaotic business environment. We work on several projects at a time – when you’re turning over £15m+ a year and have as many as 200 employees on the books you need to be adaptable.

My philosophy when thinking about business is pretty simple, some might say somewhat naïve. I will happily admit to no formal training in economics or business, though I will proudly claim a lifetime of actual fighting-in-the-trenches business experience on the front-line of a private company run by my brother and I.

You can only have a long-term successful business or national economy for that matter, by making something for 99p and selling it for at least a penny more than it costs you. That way you make a profit. Simple, but important to remember

I’m sure there are many economists and people with MBA’s snorting into their coffee that this is rubbish, but at the end of everything, I can’t think how a business can work on any other formula.

You can make money by lending money you don’t have to others who don’t have it either, and that money supply seems to grow, but as someone who runs a medium sized business, the thing I need to concentrate on is cash flow and selling stuff for more than it costs to make.

It’s the same for reviving an economy; we simply must bring real money into the UK from outside.

Exports are what make the difference. Moving money around does help stimulate activity and build confidence, and we all know that belief in things going well is an important aspect of an economy’s success. However, if the UK is to thrive, we need to sell stuff to the rest of the world. Historically, we’ve been very good at that indeed. We invent stuff about as well as any culture ever has. We used to have a globe-spanning trading empire backed up by the most powerful navy at the time. The wheel turns and things change. The nature of our armed forces adapts to technology, so too do the things we sell elsewhere.

The wonderful thing about computer games and digital delivery is that they don’t take up much space on the back of a fossil-fuel burning lorry, or on shelves in a high street retail shop, and they can travel at the speed of light to the consumer wherever they are on the surface of the globe, assuming they have an internet connection. Our product is expensive to make in the first place, but scales magnificently well at marginal cost, out to as many people as we can find or as can find us. There are technology barriers, sure, and some corporate gatekeepers who still need forms filling in to access their dwindling controlled walled garden of consumers.

If we make games people from the world want to play, they will talk to each other via social networks and let each other know about the great games they have found, then search for our products on the screen. When they find them they can fulfil that human instinct and get it right now. There is no better recommendation or more powerful sales tool than the advice of a friend, and no lower barrier to getting the game than clicking on a button to get it.

We vary our prices according to regional values, so for example a title like Sniper Elite v2 is priced differently in the USA than Russia, but hopefully priced fairly so that a game player feels that they have got value for money in the region where they are living. The money from outside the UK then flows electronically to us, sitting here in the UK, via as few intermediaries as we can manage, and lands here as an export sale and a positive balance of payments for UK plc. 

In this small way our shop window is the size of each screen of every device that can play games in the whole world. Our market is every human being on the globe with a disposable income, some leisure time to spare, and an interest in being entertained. That market is growing, as emerging markets leapfrog older technologies and catch up with the already emerged places in the world, British made computer games can and are being player by a world-wide audience, and bringing money back to these shores.

Jason Kingsley is CEO of Rebellion and chairman of TIGA

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