In our regular series, we interview new arrivals and members at Sussex Innovation about their business, why they joined and their plans for growth. Today Catalyst team member, Busola chats with Jason Avent from Hardball Games.  

Tell me a bit about Hardball Games.

We are a video game development company, who are in the process of growing to self-publish our own games. Although we are a new startup, the core team has been together for 15-20 years across console game box product development, then through the changeover to mobile and free-to-play and digital delivery. Our plan is to bring together all this knowledge of console mobile, free-to-play games of service and do a cross play game on all the platforms. 

What is your biggest success?

We created a prototype bringing together console mobile and free-to-play games of service across all platforms. I would say that the process of getting to deliver that project successfully is our biggest achievement. This has allowed us to create a game that looks like a final game and sounds like a final game. We have built a big team and have done a play test and it works. It is a great position to be in now that we have the funds to go through that process. 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Things have been running smoothly. I guess the reason for that is that we are not new to this business. We have been fortunate and have planned well, so it meant through that planning that we have not really have had setbacks yet. I mean, we have product development challenges where because we are making something that is very new and different, there is not much prior art that we can use to lean on. So, if we face a challenge, we cannot go and refer to another product and look at how they solve that challenge because it is so completely new. And so that is a setback, that you must face on the way and that has made it quite difficult.  

How have things changed in the gaming industry since the pandemic hit?

During the pandemic people had more time at home, and video games are one of the things that they were able to do as a way of socialising. So, the market rose and consumption rose, making things successful. Then there was a small slump afterwards where people were going back to normal. In general, it was a good spike for us. So, you need to be careful how you look at company results because of the change to a post COVID environment, but we weathered it quite well.  

What are some of the changing trends in the gaming industry we should know off?

There is a big opportunity in the way we market games – the way we reach consumers now is changing. Influencers and streamers are important for us. When consumers land on our games through an influencer or a streamer, we can make that conversion into an install, or into a customer. You can communicate much more clearly what the prospect of your game is in video. The best medium for that is YouTube, Twitch, and now TikTok. So that is the biggest way that marketing has changed. 

Why did you decide to join Sussex Innovation?  

The flexibility that we have here where we can hire meeting rooms and conference rooms and extra facilities with short notice is particularly useful. The spaces are well maintained, the communal areas are nice, it’s not too corporate. It feels comfortable. It also works well how you can pop out of your unit to make a call in the booth or book meeting rooms. It is also quite nice to have access to all the different restaurants across the campus that you can use!

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