Huey Games is a video game development company from Manchester. Having built up a strong client base through their work converting games onto different platforms and developing limited edition bundles, they have set their sights on expanding through creating more original games.
They took part in the Creative Scale-Up programme as part of this journey towards expansion. Completing the modules while thriving as a business during the pandemic with the increase in investment in video games caused by lockdown, Huey Games is well-positioned to grow. With the help of the programme and the mentorship they received after it, they have developed a new business plan, doubled the size of their team and are on track for 2021 to be their best year yet.
• 5-year plan for growth
• Recruitment of two new staff members
Huey Games was founded in 2016 in Manchester and has developed a strong reputation for both creating original video games and working for hire converting games onto different platforms. In 2020 they took part in the Creative Scale-Up programme looking to refocus their business plan on creating more original games and using this to fund massive growth after thriving during lockdown. CEO and Creative Director Rob Hewson tells us how the Scale-Up programme has helped Huey Games make the most of their opportunities and focus on their growth plans.
We started up five years ago when I left my role as Game Director at TT Games, where we created the LEGO video games for Warner Brothers. We won a £25k grant from the UK Games Fund to develop a prototype and we also ran a Kickstarter campaign prior to that to get us up and running. Our first big project was developing a game called Hyper Sentinel, which we released ourselves in 2018 on PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, PC and mobile. Since then, we’ve done a lot of hired development work and released other people’s games after converting them onto other platforms, like The Mystery of Woolley Mountain, Silk and Switch ‘n’ Shoot.
We’ve also released a series of collectors’ edition games that we’ve licensed onto USB cassettes and have run some highly successful Kickstarter campaigns built around those. But we were at a point where we were looking to re-evaluate and refresh our business plan and take things in a slightly different direction. We’re involved with a developer community in Manchester called Gameopolis and they notified us about an investment event that was happening in Manchester. That was where I heard about the Creative Scale-Up programme and I signed up there and then. It was perfect timing for us to get some fresh insight and training.
By joining the Creative Scale-Up programme, we found there were modules that we’d identified as being especially relevant for us, like the intellectual property and sales modules, and these were really eye-opening and immediately applicable to our business. There were others that at the time didn’t seem very obviously relevant to us. However, having worked through them with our mentor afterwards, I’ve really seen the value in them, particularly the ones around marketing and writing up a mission statement. Because we’re only quite small right now, I thought they would be important later on, but the more I learned, the more I realised that we needed to work on them now.
The impact on our business of Creative Scale-Up has been fantastic. In particular the opportunity to have a one-to-one mentor after the programme finished has been really great because we could take all of those lessons and focus them on our business. That is really when it all came into focus for us and our new business plan came together so quickly that we’re already executing on that plan.
Although there were a couple of months at the start of the first lockdown when there was a slowdown because some of our clients were transitioning to remote working, which impacted on some of the projects we had booked. However, after that initial period, the last year has been a positive one given the circumstances. Our industry has been fortunate because we’ve seen people staying at home, playing more games and buying more consoles. At Huey Games, we were particularly well-placed because we were already remote working before Covid, so could carry on as we were. There’s actually been an upturn in work because of that trickle down from the extra investment there’s been in games. It’s a great industry to invest in right now because games can be developed remotely, delivered remotely and consumed at home.
2020 was our best year to date financially and 2021 is already looking to be a bigger year, so we’re growing and expanding our team. We took on two new employees in the fourth quarter of 2020 and they’re already doing great work. Our plan is to expand from 7 people up to 20 in the team, giving us the resource to move towards being in a position in three years’ time where we can be earning 70% of our revenue from creating our own original games.
Every quarter we review our profits and decide how much we invest back into original games and through that process we are looking to make that shift from contract work to our own projects so that we can be earning royalties as well. We’re also developing our sales and marketing function, which is one of the big things that came out of the Creative Scale-Up Programme and our mentorship, so we can attract new clients and keep on growing.