Intel FutureGen Online Session #4 Round Up
This week’s session saw Will Lowther delve into his twelve years of business experience. He’s the Head of Business Development at Splash Damage, and spent time at Multiplay and Caffeine in similar roles.
He attended De Montfort University and completed a BSc (Hons) in Electronic Games Tech – a degree that covered different disciplines, from computing science and audio to basic engineering work and mathematics.
Lowther volunteered at LAN events, and that’s how he ended up working for Multiplay – he chatted to someone on a Sunday and was hired the next day.
Lowther started in customer support to learn every aspect of the business. He soon became the Operations Manager, where he helped run events like Insomnia – but he particularly enjoyed working in developer and publisher relations.
At the time, Multiplay was a tiny, growing organisation, and the gaming industry was becoming more professional.
Lowther explained that he ran into problems at Multiplay due to the small team – everyone worked in every department. Naturally, he was better at some things than others – and that led to mistakes. Eventually, he persuaded Multiplay to hire an events manager so he could focus on Business Development.
Business Development can mean many things, but it boils down to one key phrase: it’s “everything except actually making the game”.
Despite that, his roles involve vital work. It’s management strategic partnerships – at Multiplay this often involved working with developers to improve matchmaking, and at Splash Damage it may revolve around talking with Google about creating games for Stadia.
Lowther also handled legal issues, contracts and team management. Eventually, his role grew to include representing Multiplay at tradeshows like GDC – which meant public speaking, too.
Lowther talked about how his work involves handling lots of different tasks, and that remained true when Game purchased Multiplay in 2015. During that period, he pivoted again – he had to effectively sell Multiplay to Game, then help the business split into two entities. He then helped one of those integrate into Unity when the software firm bought Multiplay’s digital business in 2017.
But then, Lowther explained, he found himself without much to do. He joined a streaming start-up called Caffeine, which gave him more experience with dealing with traditional media and investors.
Then, in 2019, he joined Splash Damage, and he began working closely with big platforms and publishers, like Sony, Microsoft and EA. Lowther explained that his latest role involves lots of negotiations, meetings and pitches.
Lowther’s career has revolved around him spinning dozens of different plates – he’s tackled every conceivable kind of project and task.
Importantly, though, it boils down to talking – whether it’s with colleagues, external partners or investors, you’re talking to people to get the job done, and to help make other jobs easier.
When it came to questions, one viewer wondered how important product knowledge is in business development. Lowther’s reply was definitive: you need encyclopaedic knowledge, because that gives you a better understanding of your company’s strengths, weakness and objectives.
The next viewer asked Lowther about his most valuable advice. Lowther’s answer? Mistakes will happen – own them, fix them, then learn from them.
Lowther was asked about his toughest workplace challenge. Unsurprisingly, he mentioned prioritisation – he struggled to pick tasks to tackle, but noted that it was an invaluable lesson to learn.
This week, the Intel FutureGen 2020 broadcast will feature James Dean, CEO ESL UK. Tune in to www.twitch.tv/nse_gg at 2pm BST this Wednesday to watch it live.