Interviews & Opinion

Steel Media CEO Chris James reflects on the last 12 months (and reveals plans for 2021)

Steel Media CEO Chris James reflects on the last 12 months (and reveals plans for 2021)

As we say goodbye to 2020 it's an apt time to take stock of the preceding 12 months, count our blessings, and offer immense gratitude for all the incredible people across this amazing industry who have supported us, and, to paraphrase the immortal words of one Jerry MaGuire, 'helped us to help them'! So can I begin by saying a HUGE thanks to everyone who's supported us, attended our events, read our articles or generally worked with us in 2020. And a doubly big thanks to the incredible Steel Media team.

We are all too aware that this has been a very difficult time for large numbers of people around the world, who have lost their livelihoods - or worse still family members and friends - to this pandemic. Naturally, we need to be supportive and understanding of all those who have struggled, and will continue to do so. Yet I genuinely believe it is even more incumbent on industries that have been able to continue to work harder than ever to keep the economy running and ensure we can all return to normality as painlessly as possible in 2021.

The games industry has certainly taken up this mantle in 2020, playing a vital role in diverting, entertaining and connecting several billion people who have been locked-down and denied other activities. I am proud to say that Steel Media has continued to play our part, too, in supporting this industry, sharing news, fostering connections, and generally helping to ensure business continues as normally as possible.

Steel Media's 2020 by the numbers

Whilst we sadly didn’t get to see industry friends face-to-face or get to buy you all a drink at one of usual conferences, parties, awards or other networking events (after January’s PGC London anyway), Steel Media did still manage to get a few things done in 2020...

We ran five PG Connects conferences, hosting over 8,500 delegates* and 4,050+ companies from more than 90 countries

  • This included the biggest ever PG Connects Conference in London, which was also the UK’s biggest b2b games event with over 2,500 delegates attending.
  • During lockdown, we conceived and launched the first dedicated digital games conference, PG Connects Digital #1 (April 6-10th) combining Zoom talks, matchmaking meeting systems, Discord chat and other fringe features to emulate as much as possible of our live PGC experience.
  • This went so well, with over 1,000 delegates attending, that we continued to run three more PGC Digital events across the year, each growing in scale and features from July to November - with the next one coming in February
  • Across these events we provided a stage to over 1,220 industry speakers to share their insight and experience. Experts from the worlds of PC and console ('Big Screen Gaming') joined mobile and blockchain speakers, plus movie, music and comics insiders in our 'Beyond Games' track, ensuring a broad spectrum of insight.

But full conferences were just the start, we also ran over 50 fringe events throughout the year!

  • There weren’t too many PG Parties or Mixers after January of course, but we did host digital variations of our Big Indie Pitches, Publisher-Developer Speed Matches, Investor Connectors, Game Jams, Careers Weeks, IGDA Mentor Cafés, RoundTables, podcasts and MasterClasses, plus the Top 50 Game Makers and Mobile Games Awards.
  • 17 Big Indie Pitches enabling 282 developers from over 60 countries to pitch to 80 judges
  • Our Investor Connector event ran five times in 2020 arranging no less than 390 investment meetings for 262 companies

We also launched several brand-new activities:

  • PG LaunchPad - Our brand-new, multi-day, digital launch event for new, upcoming and updated mobile games including editorial content and daily Twitch streams and the first of these in June reached 3 million people via stream views, 100K+ via articles and 38M+ on social media alone.
  • PG.Biz MasterClasses - A new series of in-depth workshop sessions run by industry pros in August and December that have already reached 116 delegates
  • PG.Biz RoundTables - Completely free knowledge-sharing seminars on key topics to augment our editorial coverage in between our shows.
  • Careers Week - Added to Steel Media conferences from July onwards to support those who were looking for new roles and those looking to scale up with listings, relevant talks, dedicated streams and Discord chat.

Our industry-leading media outlets were by no means idle either

  • Here on we posted over 1,360 articles during 2020, and grew our average monthly user base by over 55% and our monthly average pageviews by 12% compared to 2019.
  • Meanwhile our partner site PocketGamer.Biz ran over 3,130 stories across the year and grew its audience by about 41% year on year, reaching a peak of about 200K users in May and 593K page views in September alone.
  • And our consumer partner site ran over 3,320 stories in the calendar year, boasting c.42% user growth and traffic growing by a third to c.44M page views over the year.

Suffice to say our awesome sales teams were working hard too, and over the year we managed to deliver successful campaigns, sponsorships or other activities for no less than 350 industry clients

Oh and we also sent something like 1,000,000 marketing mails - sorry about that! Seriously though we are easing up and will be using more targeted approaches as well as offering some nice incentives (such as exclusive access to video content and a chance to win free tickets) to those on our lists.

(* N.B. Unlike certain other shows, delegates in PGC terms mean people who actually booked a ticket and engaged with the event, not names signed up for free to a random database list.)

Steel Media WILL RETURN in 2021...

We have much much more of the same planned in 2021 to continue to support the industry - some of which we’ve already announced and several new exciting initiatives we haven’t shared, but you'll hear about soon.

If you’d like to help us to help your business in the next 12 months, then simply contact [email protected]

Happy New Year all and thanks again for being with us on this journey.


A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)