The UK’s slice of the £100 billion global gaming industry has been growing at a record pace. While this country has long been home to some of the big players in the industry, such as Activision and Acclaim, it’s the indies and the start-ups that have been fuelling the bulk of the sector’s phenomenal growth here. The vast majority of gaming startups are based in London, particularly around the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” bordering Old Street in East London, but some players have their roots up North too. Let’s take a look at the top UK gaming startups to watch right now.
Hutch is a relatively small operation based just off Shoreditch High Street, but the waves they have made in recent years are significant. Founded by five former Playstation UK employees, Hutch has grown to include dozens of staff members and it’s expanding further. The focus is primarily on mobile games, with the most successful titles being addictive racing games such as Race Off, MMX Racing and Smash Bandits.
FaceIt has probably had one of the most unbelievable success stories of any startup in recent memory. Having started as a tiny outfit just a few short years ago, it has gone onto amass over 8 million monthly users and is now receiving glowing op-eds in national publications. FaceIt’s success is down to its having tapped into one of the largest emerging markets in entertainment: eSports. The company hosts and facilitates video game tournaments, which have become immensely popular in the last decade and now attract hundreds of millions of spectators. Popular sports include League of Legends and Counter-Strike, filling entire stadiums with eager spectators. Popularity has grown to the extent that you can now place bets on eSports players like you would a footballer, with entire websites dedicated to showing the latest eSports odds. FaceIt’s success is owed largely to spectacularly good timing.
London-based ustwo was founded in 2013 and is probably most famous for producing one of the most beautifully designed indie games of all time. Monument Valley is a mobile puzzle game and it won the 2014 Apple Design Award. Since then the company has been scooping up lucrative contracts left, right and centre, with a number of major projects in the pipeline as they beef up their team. Recent clients include Samsung, Jaguar Land Rover and Foursquare.
Located in the heart of Soho, these guys have managed to successfully tap into the lucrative mobile gaming market, developing hugely popular releases such as Rival Kingdoms and Transformers: Earth Wars. Their rapid success is perhaps best exemplified by their recent contract with the University of London to provide a masterclass on game development to students across the city. It’s hard to find a better badge of honour than that.
The UK startup ecosystem is so dynamic because of the country’s long tradition of fostering the growth of smaller enterprises and to see this so clearly reflected in the budding games industry is hugely encouraging. Long may it continue.