InGAME International

Lead Research Organisation: University of Abertay Dundee
Department Name: Sch of Arts Media and Computer Games

Abstract

InGAME International is an international consortium of games industry stakeholders brought together from industry, agencies and universities to investigate the challenges to, and deliver solutions that support, international collaboration between the videogames sectors in the UK and China.

The videogames sector in China boasts the biggest market in the world and some of the largest and most profitable games companies. In 2018 620 million spent $37.9 billion across mobile, PC and console games. The UK is the 6th biggest market in the world and the creators of so,me of the most successful games titles. 37.3 million players spent $4.5 billion in 2018. Alongside this asymmetry in scale, each sector has strengths and weaknesses that contribute to inhibiting the growth and evolution of the videogames industry in both territories.

Research undertaken by BOP Consulting on behalf of the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK shows that the videogames sector in China is dominated by a small number of very large media companies. In total, 12 companies generate 90% of revenues from video games in China. Tencent and NetEase dominate the video games market with over 50% of the entire video game market and over 60% of the mobile game segment. The same research highlights access to funding is the main barrier to UK companies achieving the scale required to enter the Chinese market. As well as commercial barriers, cultural differences and production processes, business and regulatory environments and education and professional training are also cited as barriers to growth and international collaboration. The proposed project aims to pick up from the BOP report to build cross-sector expertise and a research team that is able to adapt quickly to new knowledge and understanding emerging from research findings. The project recognises the dynamic nature of the sector and of academic understanding and has designed a programme that is capable of respoding to emergent conditions.

InGAME International proposes to establish projects in two main areas. Researchers in the UK and China will work together to identify policy and regulatory barriers to cooperation and develop new modes of working with a view to creating innovative new products, services and business models. Researchers will work with industry professionals to understand regulation and policy; especially licensing and IP, together with market dynamics and commercial models, including in-game revenue streams. We will also explore organisational cross-nation interoperation, especially between very small and very large organisations, cultural and audience differences to identify the relationship between developed product and consumer-base in key games subsectors. Simultaneously, researchers will work with industry partners to will review a range of gaming and other game-technology enabled experiences and their aesthetics together the technologies that underpin both those experiences themselves and the production pipelines used to create them. We will also characterise the different models of game production in the UK and China, identifying key similarities and differences.

Building on this research base the project will undertake to test the research outcomes through the creation of a small number of demonstrator projects involving international co-production of innovative new products aimed at testing assumptions or exploring new opportunities. Alongside this, the project will apply InGAME UKs action research methodology to assess and verify innovation processes and practices across all aspects of policy, regulation, production and commercialisation in order to develop guidelines and advice, academic programmes and professional training to ensure that outcomes and impacts are resilient, learning and networks are sustained and new generations of games professionals are equiped to work with researchers to innovate new products for international markets.

Planned Impact

InGAME International will develop a transnational community of industrial and academic partners to provide a platform for UK-China partnership growth. We will foster this community through four interconnected mechanisms: Partnership Scoping Events - to stimulate new interactions between UK and China organisations; Partnership Support - will reduce barriers of regulatory, cultural and technical risk; Investor Forums - R&D led products and services can be showcased to potential investors in a supportive environment; and Development Activities - that will deepen links in the longer term by providing in-depth training to industry and academia in person and online.

Partnership Scoping Events: Fundamental to our engagement with industry is fostering new partnerships through structured Scoping Events undertaken on a monthly basis. UK/China briefings will present to each sector the opportunities and barriers, in terms of regulation, culture, audience etc., together with exemplars of partnerships so far. We will also provide backgrounds on the partners participating in the network event. We will seek collaborative themes from each Scoping Event, for example game platform (e.g. cloud), technology (e.g. AR), commercial (e.g. revenue model).

Partnership Support:We recognise that there is no single mode of support that will suffice for all types of partnerships and all types of products, services and technologies. We will support:
(i) Funded staff exchanges, with a particular focus on but not limited to UK SMEs working with games companies in China.
(ii) Deploying creative talent (industry, academics, students) and design methods (including game jams) we will mitigate the risk of ideation and concept development for new platforms, genres, audiences and business models, whilst simultaneously bringing benefits to students and promoting industry involvement in UK-China collaboration;
(iii) Support in navigating the complex regulatory, commercial and cultural landscape, including audience demographics and patterns of media consumption, of UK-China collaboration.

Investor Forums: We recognise that there will be partnerships where additional external investment is required to productise R&D activity. We will provide a supportive environment where promising products and services can be showcased to potential investors. We are currently working with development agencies in the UK (Scottish Development International/Department for International Trade)to support UK games company attendance at China Joy in Shanghai and Develop Conference in the UK.

Industry Development: During the funded period we will provide in-depth face-to-face training to industry, whilst also developing a suite of online learning materials to provide scalable support beyond the funded period. Abertay University will fork with Perfect World Education in Beijing to develop dual-language programmes.

Talent development: Academic exchange between UK and China academic partners in order to develop UK-China academic collaborations that offer to educate the next generation of talent and to develop academic staff in China and by doing so foster long-term sustainable links via academia into industry.

Pathway to Partnerships Online: We will embed all Pathway to Partnerships resources, including learning materials, scoping reviews, demonstrators, databases of prospective partners (as appropriate) and showcases of success, within an open-access dual language online repository.

Project impacts are designed to be sustainable and are built on established relationships. The project is committed to persisting beyond the funded period in order to continue to deliver value into all stakeholder institutions and organisations and to continue to generate new opportunities for international research and development collaboration within the academic partnership.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Hosting a Scoping event as part of the Women in Games Festival and Conference 14 Sept 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As a satellite event for the Women in Games conference, Women from the UK and China discussed their experiences working in games research and the games industry. The aim was to locate established communities for women in games as well as find potential for further community building across these sectors and nations. 2 women discussed their research into gaming in the UK and China, followed by a round table discussion with two women working in the games industry in an international games company. There were 27 live attendees and over 80 twitch streams of the event to date. The round table discussion encourage 6 one-to-one post-event meetings to network and meet other women in the games industry. There were also 5 responses to our survey, that reported the event as being helpful and that the participants learned something new. Respondents were interested in being parts of communities for women in the games industry and were keen to meet women from all walks of life. They also gave ijmportant data into what games companies could do to show they were actively recruiting women, including, child care, maternity leave, flexible working, guidance to help women in leadership positions, openness about women in leadership positions, and unconscious bias training.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1148316797
 
Description InGAME International Information Event - The China Games Market for UK Games Studios 17 Sept 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This event provided researchers and games industry professionals with an opportunity to learn about our current research into the Chinese games market. The aim was to identify barriers faced by UK companies when considering the Chinese market. We also provided information on the longer term vision of the project, including plans to develop guidance, support mechanisms, and funded exchanges to China for the UK games sector. There was an introduction the the project, presentations on regulation and localisation in China, prototyping for the UK and China market, Creative Co-Production between the UK and China, and a roundtable discussion on what support games companies need to do business between the UK and China. There were 26 live attendees from 8 international companies and 6 international universities. Since the event, there have been over 12 Youtube views of the recorded presentations. The 8 games companies included UK companies Pocketsized Hands, Junkfish, Splash Damage, Byte Dance, and Focus Games as well as Chinese companies Tencent, Crazy Sports, and Shenzhen ZQ Game Co. The UK Universities present were the University of Westminster, University of Southampton, Durham University, University of Abertay and University of St. Andrews. Researchers from Jilin University from China were also in attendance. There were 4 other international companies present as well: Scottish Development International, TAL, IGG, and Limit Break Mentorship.

The largest impact from this event, was learning that UK games companies would benefit from a roadmap on how to publish in China beginning with a knowledge of opportunities in China, knowledge of legistlation and risk in China, and to be matched with reputable chinese partners to eventually release a UK game in the Chinese market. This came about during the question and answer session.

Connections and further involvement with Durham University and other games companies also came about after this session. It has informed what our next sessions will look like and how we will disseminate information at future events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WWordf_RhI
 
Description Presentation and Roundtable Participation at EU-China Gaming & E-Sports Industry Connect, Shanghai and Online, September 24th 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The InGAME International Team were invited by the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) to represent the UK gaming and eSports industries as part of the EU-China Gaming & E-Sports Industry Connect event on September 24th, 2021. InGAME International contributed to the event by acting as one of four organisations providing a direct industry connect presentation, and by taking part in an eSports roundtable discussion as one of three European organisations and in collaboration with three Chinese organisations.

This event was hosted at the Anandi Hotel, Shanghai, with remote participation made possible via Zoom. The aim of the event was to act a games and eSports industries trade fair for EU and China sectors. Businesses from across both China and Europe were invited to participate to:
1) gain knowledge of China market through an up-to-date market overview of China's gaming industry and Chinese companies' international cooperation interests; 2)
access marketing and branding opportunities, build B2B partnerships, and drive marketing initiatives within the China market; and 3) Connect with key Chinese market players.

Examples of organisations targeted for attendance include: 1) Chinese organisations; NetEase, IGG, ByteDance, Bilibili, Huawei Cloud, GamePlus, Perfect World, ADFLY, Uniu Game, Yugong Group, Dan Game, Heitao Interactive, 9You, StarO, KingNet, GG Games, Transsion, 76Game, Zhaohe Network, CEC, Xipu Game, XFUN Games, Fangqu Network, Youya, Yunchan, Shengqu Games, Arden Game, Bajin Technology, and 2) EU/UK organisations; European/British Gaming companies, indie studios who want to get into China market, European/British E-Sports Companies, European/British E-Sports Clubs who want to explore China market.

InGAME International participation in this event enabled international EU-China reach with a primarily business and industry audience. Representing InGAME International on the eSports roundtable discussion, Dr William Huber (Head of Centre of Excellence at Abertay University) spoke alongside Ukie, Nano Games, SESA, VSPN, and JE Esports, proving the project with a significant platform for debate around games and eSports cooperation between the UK and China. As part of the Industry Connect sessions, InGAME International researchers Dr Hailey Austin and Hayley Brown provided an overview of the project research and opportunities for engagement.

As a result of participation in this event, the most immediate impacts relate to the development of new networks, contacts, and requests for further involvement with the project from EU/UK and China companies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.cbbc.org/events/2021-eu-china-gaming-e-sports-industry-connect
 
Description Scottish Games Virtual Mission to China 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact InGAME International collaborated with Scottish Development International (SDI) to support delivery of the Scottish Games Virtual Mission to China, the first in our series of Investor Forums. With wider support from partners in China including DIT, CBBC, Guangdong Game Industry Association and Guangzhou International Exchange Centre, this virtual mission aimed to engage and explore the Chinese gaming industry for collaboration and business opportunities in games development and publishing in China and the global market.

The mission was launched with a briefing session on July 27th 2021. The briefing session included an opening address by Mr Ivan Mckee, the Scottish Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship. InGAME International delivered a presentation on the Creative China project and the R&D programme, promoting opportunities for engagement and collaboration. Presentations were also provided by guest speakers from the wider project partnership with expertise in China, including: Perfect World, Merits & Tree, GameDash, and Steam China. Topics included key issues covered by the project R&D programme, such as IP, publishing, and market entry.

This mission directly impacted on 8 UK-based games businesses, including game studios, game-related business, and game technology companies. In total there were 35 attendees at the mission with more audiences reached through recording and follow up work. As part of the wider programme of networking and matchmaking, UK-based companies connected with partners in China. Fifteen companies from China engaged in this activity: Boke Technology, ByteDance, CEC Games, Guandu Games, ICC Game, IGG, iDreamSky, Merits & Tree, NetEase Games, Perfect World, Shengqu Games, Tencent, XFun Games, ZQ Games, and 37 Interactive Entertainment. Each UK company that participated in meetings were provided with between 4-8 meetings with Chinese partners, for a total of 43 one-to-one meetings scheduled between UK and China companies.

As an outcome of this event, business in both the UK and China went on to explore further collaboration with InGAME International, including: participation in our wide-ranging inform and scope exercise, through one-to-one research interviews; development of further event ideas and talks; knowledge sharing; and development of additional R&D activity as part of our partnership support mechanisms. The UK companies involved continue to explore routes to collaboration with Chinese partners, including discussions with publishers with regards to market entry in China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://transcripts.gotomeeting.com/#/s/a9b60ef3cf74c9e132b030c5519d0afe36fc56b820c1c2d9313539ca95ac...