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Fireside chat with Steve Cottam, CEO of Antstream

Steve Cottam is a technical leader / innovator with over 20 years experience for a diverse range of clients including startups, global blue chip organisations and central government. He has had enjoyed the opportunities to design and deliver a range of products from video games to global systems management solutions.

He is passionate about video games and driven to ensure every video game ever made becomes as accessible as the Music and Movies provided through services like Spotify and Netflix.

He is eminently positive and lives by the manta ‘Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!’

More about Antstream Arcade and Steve’s experience as an entrepreneur can be found below:

What’s the story behind Antstream Arcade?

Antstream is the fusion of my passion for games and a career in software and technology. Since playing my first game in 1982 and subsequently teaching myself coding, I had my sights set on working in video games. Early in my career I launched and sold my first game, Nitro Racers, in 1994, before moving into a successful career leading to IT projects migrating the office PC into the cloud, but throughout my career, gaming has remained very much in my DNA.

Games are now very much part of people’s content diet, but unlike music and movies where it is easy to find your favorites, there are decades of incredible gaming content that has become lost as home computers, consoles and arcade machines have been lost to obsolescence. I founded the company in 2013 with the vision of making all games as accessible as music and movies and my mission is to make Antstream Arcade as ubiquitous as Spotify and Netflix.

I first realised there is a strong market for early games at a mobile gaming conference back in 2015. The floor was packed with consumers eager to try the latest and greatest games, but it became quickly apparent that by far the most popular game of the show was a 1980s Atari Arcade machine that had gamers queuing around the aisles.

In 2016 Antstream was one of a very select group of companies selected to take part in the Microsoft Scale-up program. The mentoring really helped us formulate our strategies for raising investment and scaling the business. Since then we have followed the well trodden path of startups, raising capital. We initially raised our seed round from Angel investors and attracted support from Creative England. In 2019 Antstream successfully closed its Series A funding with Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

There have of course been ups and downs along the way – Persistence has definitely played a major part in getting us to this point. As it has turned out we find ourselves with the right product at the right time. We were a little naive at the beginning in thinking everyone would jump to work with us from day one. We learned that building relationships and trust takes time. Fast-forward to today and we are proud to have content partners including Disney, Warner, Atari, Bandai Namco, Taito and 50+ others. I feel we have been very lucky on our journey, but whether it’s raising finance or building partnerships, each stage of the business has been a proving ground that takes us to the next stage. 

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

I have to answer this in two parts.

  • The feedback from the audience – “Antstream is doing God’s work” is a comment I have seen on several occasions. Seeing our fans stream and play Antstream on Twitch, a platform that lets gamers from around the world spectate, is incredibly rewarding. Nothing beats seeing genuine fans rave about the product – It is always very humbling.
  • The relationships we have developed with our content partners and being able to make some of their most iconic games available to gamers around the world. Also knowing that we are giving revenue back to the content owners is very rewarding.

What is your vision for the future of Antstream Arcade?

The long term vision for Antstream is to have instant access to all the games wherever you are. We think of ourselves as a Spotify for video games. A lot will change in the next 5 year as cloud gaming becomes one of the primary ways of accessing content. Antstream is positioned to play a major role in that future, whether it’s competing with your friends on a retro classic or taking on the world in the lastest AAA blockbuster hit. 

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

I think the answer is in the question – Be prepared to adapt. Embrace change and always be ready to test and learn. Covid has changed the way businesses are organising themselves for their customers and their employees. The companies that can adapt and embrace change are the ones that are most likely to succeed.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

  • Ready Player One – A futuristic future where everything is available inside a virtual world.
  • Can’t Hurt me – David Goggins – A stark reminder of the power of determination and never giving up on your goals.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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