Manchester video game industry 'bubbling up' again
The man behind smash hit mobile game Golf Clash has hailed the resurgence of the indie video game scene in the North West.
Paul Gouge is CEO of Playdemic, the Cheshire-based developer and publisher which attracted millions of regular players to games such as Village Life, Gang Nations and Gourmet Ranch.
Its latest free-to-play game Golf Clash was developed before the studio was bought by TT Games – part of Warner Bros. – earlier this year. Played by 1.5 million people every day, it recently enjoyed its first $1 million day in in-app purchases. Playdemic is hoping the game will help it make £100m+ in revenue this year.
He told a packed audience of more than 80 people at our breakfast event ‘The gaming sector – the North West's best kept secret’ that the election of Andy Burnham as Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor is good news for the scene.
“Look at some of the stuff Andy Burnham is putting together: that commitment to technology will ultimately drive the resurgence of the video games industry in the region,” he said.
“The games industry has been big here before, and it’s encouraging to see the indie scene really bubbling up and starting to get some critical mass again. The emergence of publishers like Fabrik Games and Boomdash Digital is what we need.
Wipeout Omega, Boom Boom Barbarian and The Lost Bear were among the games exhibited at Capital and Centric’s The Foundry Film Studio
“We’re starting to see the middle ground reappear between the top publishers and the smaller projects. The industry needs all levels of investment and product to thrive.
“Hopefully we’re starting to see that coming back in Manchester – there is some really interesting investment going on.”
Greg Robinson (pictured above, right) is an advisor to and investor in mobile publisher Boomdash, which is based in the Sharp Project. He told the audience that the area is fighting back after losing several major studios in recent years.
“There’s been a general laziness with the North West games industry. The number of talented people is just enormous, but over time those studios have been lost without people paying too much care and attention to it,” he said.
“The community in the North West now is driven by the people who fell out with the large studios such as Psygnosis, Activision, Acclaim and Bizarre Creations. Rage have gone, Warthog have gone, Activision have gone, EA left Warrington, Sony have downsized at Liverpool – the number of skilled jobs that have gone from the North West, we should have really been more concerned about. We were complacent.
“The fact that it’s getting attention now and coming back is a good thing. We started Boomdash out of a desire to have a publisher in the North West which could help the development community up here: they shouldn’t need to go to London or San Francisco to try and get their game published.”
Simon Smith (pictured above, left, with Paul Rustchynsky of Codemasters) is the co-founder and chair of Gameopolis, a network which seeks to promote and link the Greater Manchester video games industry and which supported the event.
“The North West is biggest area of games development outside of London. Just like other places known for making games – like Dundee – it comes down to one thing: rain!
“It keeps us indoors and messing about on computers, making games, 3D models and coding.”
Playdemic sponsored the event, which sought to link the business community with developers and other professionals – something which Prospect Games MD Andrew Bennison told us is badly needed in the region.