IMPRESS is an independent video game marketing tools company based in Bristol, providing effective video game marketing campaign management solutions to over 40 games businesses.

Video game development in 2023 is easier than it’s ever been. Game engines such as Unity, Unreal and Godot have truly democratised game development, making it possible for anyone to pick up, learn, create and publish a game. However, with an ever-increasing number of games coming to market, it’s now more difficult than ever to break out from the noise, land a game with its target audience, and reach a sustainable level of commercial success. 

This is especially a problem for the SME / “indie” segment of the industry and is a problem we experienced first-hand in our several years as a tiny games studio before pivoting to become IMPRESS. Through our years, we won some, we failed numerous times and we learned a lot, and now with our new mission to empower indie games and democratise games publishing, we’re striving to help others who are starting out, or finding themselves in a similar position to what we were.

IMPRESS is the indie games self-publishing toolkit. It aims to be the one-stop-shop for all aspects of business success outside of the technical core game product development. That covers data-driven market research to decide which game genres to develop, running influencer/creator marketing campaigns from announcement through to launch, as well as building and maintaining press relations and engaged communities. 

But our vision is not yet fully-realised. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to be one of the nine companies selected to take part in MyWorld’s Challenge Call “Catalysts & Connectors: Tools for the Creative Industries”. A project embedded within a consortium programme that’s building on the existing strength of our West of England region, exploring the future of creative technology innovation by pioneering new ideas, products and processes.

The Catalysts & Connectors programme is a 16-week accelerator run by MyWorld partners Digital Catapult, with the support of NVIDIA. The aim of the accelerator is to help companies in the creative industries develop innovative new tools to assist in the creation of exciting experiences.

Digital Catapult is the UK innovation agency for advanced digital technology, promoting new ideas and collaboration throughout industry. They are all about helping companies like IMPRESS reach new heights.

NVIDIA’s generously open sourced work at the forefront of AI and Machine Learning means we will be potentially saved from reinventing the wheels of a recommender system; we’re pleased to have their support and guidance throughout the Challenge Call.

In particular, we are grateful for the opportunity to share with others in the cohort on a similar path, the guidance in workshops and thinking time away from the business, and the structure for prioritising focus and helping us stay on target for our business goals. 

Our Challenge Call project, IMPRESS Launchpad, can be loosely broken down into two areas.

Creator Research & Discovery

Influencer – or content-creator – marketing in video games has increasingly become the main catalyst for game sales over the last decade. But discovering influencers relevant to a game’s genre or niche has become increasingly difficult. The influencer research process takes a long time, and involves wrangling and fine-combing many data sources into one. Our Launchpad proposition will utilise machine learning (ML) to directly surface influencers ready for organic partnerships based on game genre and tag taxonomy. 

Creator Campaigns & Distribution

Managing and maintaining those relationships and partnerships can be troublesome, and distributing pre-release game access codes via email can often end up in promotions or spam folders. Once these influencer and communications channels are collated from the discovery process, our messaging tools will hook directly into email accounts, offering improved deliverability and open rates, leading to increased influencer activations and partnerships.

Blog by IMPRESS, Challenge Call project

As part of the MyWorld Challenge Call pitch, we also proposed a customer insights event where we would share our concept and progress with our current and prospective customers. This event – Mini Marketing Summit – happened last week during Develop Conference, and proved to be very validating for us. The attendance and attentiveness of the audience demonstrated an appetite for support and guidance with influencer discovery and outreach, which was also exemplified in the supporting educational content we had arranged from industry peers. Interviews and dialogue with attendees throughout the week further confirmed interest and excitement for the Launchpad product.

Looking to the future

Our ambitions for IMPRESS Launchpad, in line with our mission to “empower indie games”, is to see more indie game creators engaging effectively with content-creators. We believe that our self-service tools, educational resources, and cohort community will offer indies a level-playing field, enabling them to punch above their weight and better compete against the larger enterprise / “AAA” publishers. Through providing the tools, insights and process to make this a realistic and informed activity, indies will achieve more organic coverage activations and ultimately more success for their titles. We expect to see this result in more users of the wider IMPRESS suite, enabling more understanding, appreciation and engagement with games marketing for indie game developers. 

We believe that the IMPRESS suite, in part powered by MyWorld, will not only be a launchpad (pun-intended) for our customers, but also a huge catalyst for the future growth of our business, and will enable us to continue to invest in and grow our Bristol-based team. Proper!

Read more about the Challenge Call via Digital Catapult’s website. Read more about IMPRESS’s indie game marketing toolkit via the IMPRESS website.