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Skills & Training

The Pixel Mill Platform 2021


Platform is a business accelerator programme for video game companies in Northern Ireland aimed at supporting companies to self-publish a new game based on an original IP within 12 months.

Working out of The Pixel Mill based at the Ormeau Baths in Belfast, companies will have access to facilities, mentors, training and funding as well as the opportunity to attend markets to build their business network and meet consumers.

Northern Ireland Screen is inviting applications from companies to take part with support for up to 3 successful companies to develop their business and build their teams.

Platform is split into 3 stages, where companies will be challenged with developing an idea for a game, validating the market opportunity for that idea and taking it into full production. The stages will be as follows:

  1. Rapid prototyping: 8 weeks of idea generation and prototyping. Companies will be challenged to come up with 5 game concepts, creating a porotype for each, which they can create and release within 36 weeks on a budget of £50,000. Validating the business case and market opportunity for each.
  2. Vertical Slice: Companies will choose the two strongest game ideas from rapid prototyping and spend 12 weeks creating verticals slices/demos which demonstrate the core mechanics, art style and narrative. During this stage companies will have the opportunity to attend Gamescom to meet with publishers. While the ultimate aim is to self-publish, the goal of this stage is for companies to validate which idea is the strongest to take forward into full production.
  3. Full Development: Based on the market validation carried out by companies, they will select a game which they will take into full production for 24 weeks with the goal of self-publishing the game by the end of Feb/start of March 2022 (This can be as a full release/early access/soft launch/demo etc.). During this stage companies will have the opportunity to attend EGX.

By the end of Platform companies will be expected to have published a game which is within the scope of the budget and time allowed. It is important that companies have a concerted focus on marketing and community building around their games throughout the programme.

During the programme companies will have milestones/deliverables which they will be required to meet in order to move on to the next stage of development. Summary as per below:

Stage Time Deliverable Funding
Rapid Prototyping 8 Weeks (April/May) 5 Prototype Games with accompanying market research £10,000
Vertical Slice (Pre-production) 12 Weeks (June/July/Aug) 2 Vertical Slices of Games with accompanying pitch decks (including budget, marketing plan, publisher feedback and production schedule) £15,000
Full Development (Production) 24 Weeks (Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb) Fully developed and published game. £35,000
  • Up to 3 teams
  • Up to £60,000 in development funding per company
  • Up to 12 Months Office Space and access to mentors
  • Market Attendance – Gamescom and EGX

Recruitment

Platform is open to companies that meet the following criteria:

  • Limited companies.
  • Companies must consist of 2 or more team members (ideally 3) with the key roles of programming, art and business development covered within the team.
  • Companies and team members must be committed to Platform full-time for the duration of the programme.
  • The company, or at least 2 of the team members, have released/published a video game or product in the last 3 years.
  • Company, including its team members, is able to join Platform on the 1st April 2021.

Application Process:

All companies interested in joining Platform must complete the online application form. To apply, click HERE.

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 29th January 2021.

Interview Stage

Selected companies from the application stage will be invited to attend an interview with Northern Ireland Screen. The interview will involve a presentation and questions from a panel.

Pre-application meetings

Those interested in applying to Platform and who would like to have an informal chat can arrange to meet with our Interactive Manager, Rory Clifford.  They can request a meeting by emailing [email protected].

For additional information, please read our FAQs.

Timeline

Date Detail
1st Dec Application Opens
29th Jan Application Closes
5th Feb Successful applicants notified
16/17th Feb Interviews
w/c 22nd Feb Successful interviewees notified and contracted
1st April 2021/22 cohort move & start date

Evaluation criteria

  • Experience/knowledge of the team
  • Company can demonstrate that key roles are covered by team members;
    • Programming
    • Game Design
    • Business Development/Marketing
  • Ability to concisely develop and pitch a video game

Office Space

The maximum guarantee of space to a Platform company is 6 months. A further 6 months will be dependent on performance review and completion of milestones.

Platform Induction

Successful Platform companies will receive a full induction to the facilities and the programme with a bootcamp during the first week of the programme (w/c 3rd Apr).

Induction will include;

  • Equipment set-up and systems introduction day
  • Introductions to mentors and key Northern Ireland Screen staff
  • Workshops delivered by mentors covering: marketing, games design, business, publishing, project management, legal and accounting
  • Talks from experienced local video game developers
  • Introduction to Rapid Prototyping

Skills

The Pixel Mill will offer a cross-section of expertise and resources which Platform companies will have access to. Expertise/resources will cover the breath of the creative and business disciplines needed to run a modern-day video game company.

Mentors will be available throughout the year to provide advice and guidance to companies on areas such as:

  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Programming
  • Game Design
  • Business/Business Development
  • Accounting
  • Legal
  • Leadership

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