Further growth is name of the game for Dundee studio Outplay

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Dundee-based mobile games developer Outplay Entertainment is on track for a solid rise in annual turnover as it gears up for further growth in a booming market.

The firm, which was founded in 2010 and whose game titles include Angry Birds, Crafty Candy and Alien Creeps, acquired Derby-headquartered mobile games studio Eight Pixels Square at the tail end of 2016.

That deal, for an undisclosed sum, came off the back of a year which saw Outplay become the largest independent mobile games developer in the UK.

Co-founder and chief executive Douglas Hare said the past year or so had been a “very busy” period for the firm, integrating the acquisition and launching new game titles.

Speaking to The Scotsman, he said: “Not only did we invest in the launch of games, we invested in people and processes. We have been increasing headcount around marketing and some of the more technical stuff.

“That investment that we made last year is really starting to come through this year.”

The firm’s headcount in Dundee totals about 170 while there are just over 40 staff based at Eight Pixels Square in Derby, where there is a “good likelihood” of further growth in the medium term, Hare added.

Outplay turned over some £16 million in its 2016/17 financial year and Hare said it was set to record a “nice increase” for the latest reporting period.

The games developer recently featured in the fourth annual Maserati 100 index, published by the luxury Italian car maker and The Sunday Times. The 2018 edition recognised the “innovation and the dedication of those entrepreneurs from start-ups to established businesses based throughout the UK”.

Outplay was founded by Hare and his brother Richard and the firm’s games have now been downloaded more than 100 million times.

The firm was also named in the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report which is devised by the London Stock Exchange Group and celebrates the nation’s most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Hare brothers previously set up California-based development studio The Collective, which created titles for computers and games consoles based on the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises.

Outplay’s CEO said that while the firm was “not actively looking” at a follow-up acquisition at the present time, he acknowledged that while running the US studio it had “acquired quite a few things”.

“It’s an interesting industry and you need to know how to bring people in and make them thrive,” added Hare.

On the funding front, Hare said: “There is an argument to be made to invest more aggressively in some of the games to grow them and at that time we might consider our options in terms of bringing growth capital into the business so we can accelerate that.”