Indie games developer appoints marketing specialist as CEO

Steve Bell / LinkedIn

Wakefield- and Nottingham-based independent games developer Team17 has appointed the head of a major global marketing agency as its new CEO.

Steve Bell will join the Team 17 board as CEO designate on 4 September before formally stepping into the hot seat on 1 January 2024. His arrival follows Debbie Bestwick MBE’s decision to step down to spend more time with her family.

Bell joins Team17 from Iris Worldwide Holdings, an integrated agency specialising in brand and digital marketing strategy, which he co-founded in 1999 and where he has acted as global CEO since 2021. He previously worked for advertising and retail agency Arc Worldwide.

Bestwick has been with Team17 since 1990, working up through sales and marketing roles before becoming joint chief executive in 2009 and taking sole charge a year later. She will remain in place until 31 December before taking up a non-executive role.

She said: “As a board, we have run a rigorous process to find a new group chief executive and we are delighted to announce Steve as my successor. Steve’s experience as a co-founder of a people-centric business means he understands the importance of our vibrant and inclusive company culture which remains the cornerstone of everything we do across the group. I look forward to working with Steve through the handover process, and to supporting him and the broader team thereafter in my role as a non-executive director.”

Bell said: “I am thrilled to be joining Team17. The company has an incredible track record and I’m excited to help build on the group’s strong foundations to continue its impressive growth trajectory. I look forward to working closely with the board, Mark (CFO), Michael, Julia, Tim and Emmet – the group’s divisional CEOs and their broader teams to bring even more compelling games and apps to players, alongside driving further momentum by supporting the group’s successful organic and acquisitive growth strategy.”

The news follows a sustained period of growth for Team17, which has reaped the benefits of a bullish acquisition strategy in recent years. The company acquired educational entertainment app developer StoryToys in July 2021 before swooping for German developer, publisher and distributor astragon Entertainment, indie games publisher The Label, and more recently, the German development studio Independent Arts Software.