All posts by Michael Walker

Steam: It’s all about Quantity, not Quality (or so it seems)

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Steam was launched in 2003, and PC gaming would never be the same again. Since then, indie developers worldwide have used Steam as a platform on which to showcase their creative talents to the world.

Over the years, Steam has implemented multiple schemes to encourage developers to create their own games, such as Greenlight in 2012 and, more recently, the Early Access and Steam Direct initiatives. As a result, the number of indie games available to download on Steam has skyrocketed from 450 in 2015 to 1,107 in 2017.

Despite giving indie developers such tremendous opportunities, the sheer volume of games being published on the platform renders it unprofitable, both for the Steam platform and for indie devs. Shockingly, they’re often being paid minimum wages, which means they are not able to create quality games because of a lack of budget or incentive.

What doesn’t help is that Steam has a sort of ‘free-for-all’ policy, in which pretty much anything goes as long as it is not illegal or a troll. This essentially means that Steam are going for ‘quantity’ rather than ‘quality’. In principle this is a fine code to live by, but what happens to the truly talented developers who become sidelined because they couldn’t cut through the noise?

Commentators have stated that the huge growth in the number of games available on Steam is directly attributable to schemes like Greenlight and Early Access, and Steam’s unproductive policy of ‘anything goes’. Tomas Rawlings, of Auroch Digital, even stated that it has caused a ‘Steampocalpyse’; the idea that the growth in the number of games makes Steam a highly unpredictable storefront, and it’s driving down the average amount of money that every game makes – especially independent developers. In effect Steam has, ironically, played itself.

Ultimately this means that the big triple-A game developers, that have dominated the industry for so long, will continue to dominate it even more. Perhaps if there were stronger auditing procedures and a drive for higher quality games, the market would see more and more game development companies come to the fore. Only time will tell what impact new technologies like VR will have on ‘Steampocalypse’.

Forbes Europe forging a new identity after The Memo merge

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Liberty recently attended a media briefing with Alex Wood, European Editor at Forbes, who talked about big plans for Forbes Europe over the next year.

In 2015, Wood founded an ‘edgy’ tech publication called The Memo. Its mission? ‘Make the Future More Human.’ Fast-forward to 2018 and The Memo has merged with Forbes, making him European Editor.

Since then, Wood has cultivated an ethos he cemented at The Memo. Traditionally, Forbes magazine is associated with the ‘Warren Buffets’ of the business world. Although it’s still the face of the biz bigwigs, Wood is reshaping Forbes into a brand that empowers startups and early stage companies with significant column inches. Moving forward, this is a huge opportunity for smaller organisations who want to be featured in one of the biggest business publications.

Wood also hit the nail on the head when it comes to the modern media landscape – “we can’t be everywhere, and we can’t do everything.”

From a PR perspective, this speaks volumes. PR consultants not only need to give journalists a compelling story that’s relevant to their publication, but it needs to be tailored to a specific writer’s topic specialism and pertinent to the hot topic of the day. Even then, it’s simply impossible for journalists these days, who are limited by budgeting and staff constraints, to pick up and run with everything. This especially rings true for top tier business titles like Forbes.

That said, this Forbes Europe team is determined to widen the net of its contributor model, with plans to expand on the 2,000 contributors that make it the world’s biggest business site.

Big plans are also in the works for a dedicated European section in the print edition, and the contributor model is also going to be supplemented with high quality new profiling series’ like the ‘How to Boss it Like’ series. These elements are certainly testament to Wood’s ambition, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the bureau develops over the course of the year.

One thing’s for sure, Alex Wood is still determined to ‘make the future more human’.

Starship turn heads at Tech London Advocates’ 5th Anniversary

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Back when Russ Shaw founded Tech London Advocates (TLA) five years ago, people asked him whether London even had the capacity to cultivate a vibrant technology scene. Needless to say, no one asks him that question now.

It’s amazing just how much the technology sector in London has evolved over the last five years alone. Starship Technologies, which has itself grown from a small-time start-up to the world’s leading autonomous robot delivery company, is testament to this.

Liberty recently joined Starship at a special event to celebrate TLA’s 5th birthday. Starship gave a demo of their very cute delivery robot while the company’s VP of Marketing, Henry Harris-Burland, addressed an audience made up of leading figures from the London technology scene across sectors including cyber security, robotics and AI.

Henry explained why maintaining and developing social acceptance for disruptive technology will be key to the overall success of London’s tech scene in the near future. This is a view echoed by responses to the latest TLA Future of London Tech survey, in which over a third (34%) of respondents said that they believe AI and robotics will define the success of emerging tech in London within the next five years.

London, and by extension the UK, is clearly playing a leading role on the disruptive stage, and the onus is on everyone involved to make sure that the city remains competitive and steps up its innovation game. Companies like Starship are certainly shining examples for smaller start-ups who are getting their feet off the ground in the capital.

Celebrating 20 years of technology: Making commuting tolerable since 2007

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The London Underground is fast, reliable (mostly), and gives us a bit of time to detach from the rest of the world for a moment or two, whether that be through listening to music, sleeping, or reading a book.

But have you ever tried turning the pages of a book whilst pressed up against other commuters who are, probably like you, trying their best to avoid eye contact?

It wasn’t until 2007 when Amazon released the first Kindle that these travel woes could be cast aside. Since then, Amazon has kept us turning their e-pages with over 10 different iterations of the original model, and we can now access a vast database on the go, with over 20,000 books available.

Despite the first e-reader being introduced in 1998 with the Rocket Ebook, e-readers weren’t fully adopted into our cultural psyche until the Kindle, which uses electronic paper technology to mimic paper ink on its display screens.

While it’s true that there have been concerns that the Kindle would see people begin to choose ‘pixels’ over ‘paper’; rather than wiping out the printed press, e-readers and traditional paper books have instead ‘kindled’ together ten years on. People seem to use both in equal measure, depending on where they are and what they’re doing.

This is most likely because of the balance between the sheer portability of the Kindle and the ‘homey’ sentimentality one gets with a physical book. For people who are on the move a lot of the time, the Kindle lends itself useful in countless scenarios where you’re out and about.

It’s also helping to change our general perceptions of the environment. Kindle brought paperless technology to the mainstream foray, and in the last ten years there’s been a flurry of organisations going paperless, both to become more environmentally-friendly and more cost-effective as a business. But perhaps as importantly, the Kindle has made tube rides just that little bit more bearable!