Dundee games firm wins £25m of support

A COMPUTER games firm headed by the man behind hits such as Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto has won $50 million (£25m) of funding from a US investment fund.

Dundee-based Realtime Worlds is to use the cash from Maverick Capital to fund the global launch of its new online urban action game All Points Bulletin (APB).

The firm was founded in 2002 by DMD Games boss Dave Jones, after his previous company's merger and flotation with Gremlin Group. Jones said yesterday that the funds would be used to carry on the company's growth.

He said: "We want to launch APB in 2009, which will be pretty much worldwide – including the Asian markets. This is our first big online game."

He added: "Securing funding of this size from partners that are leading the financial and marketing communications industries further affirms Realtime Worlds' position as one of the most creative, respected and successful game development companies in the world."

He said the launch of APB would be likely to boost turnover "significantly" from its current level of around 5m. Jones added: "If we have a big success with APB on the scale of, for example, World of Warcraft, then we could be looking at hundreds of millions of pounds. It just depends what happens after we launched it."

The latest investment was the second round of funding for Realtime, which raised $30m in 2006 – mainly from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), which has also put money into the firm this time around, alongside Maverick and a third investor, WPP.

Jones said that the company would be likely to boost staffing levels following the launch of APB, as much of the publishing infrastructure, such as customer support, was likely to be carried out in-house.

He said Realtime would also be likely to create a boxed version of the online game and would also look to adapt it for games consoles such as XBox and PlayStation in the future.

The firm is also likely to be looking for hosting partners for the online game in the coming months, targeting global companies such as AT&T.

Jones is now chief executive and creative director at Realtime, alongside industry veterans Tony Harman, who previously worked as director of development and acquisitions for Nintendo of America and Ian Hetherington, former managing director of Lemmings publisher Psygnosis.

Realtime recently launched its first major title, Crackdown, on Xbox 360.

The company, which employs around 200 staff at its Tayside headquarters, is planning to expand into online publishing as well as its traditional area of game creation with its newest product, which it expects to trial at the end of this year and launch officially next year.

Jones' previous firm, DMD, became a well-known name in the computer games business when a number of its products became worldwide successes.