MD David Banner tells us how the firm is putting Wales on the map
In our latest Develop Awards partner spotlight, Wales Interactive co-founder and managing director David Banner discusses the firm's ambitions to grow his local development community.
The expanding developer and publisher is an event partner for the Develop Awards 2014, which takes place on Wednesday, July 9th at the Brighton Hilton Metropole. More info below.
For any readers who might not know you, tell us a little more about your company and its goals.
I’m David Banner, everybody knows me as “Dai” and I’m Managing Director of Wales Interactive, a BAFTA Cymru award-winning indie video games developer and publisher based in Pencoed, Wales. Over the last two years, the company has transformed from a two-man operation into a prosperous, 18-strong games development and publishing team making video games for all the major next generation gaming consoles.
I co-founded Wales Interactive, with my business partner Richard Pring, Technical Director, back in July 2012. Our original motivations’ for setting up the business were to create a significant games industry presence in Wales and to tap into the local graduate talent pool that we knew that existed in the area. We not only planned to put Wales on the video games development map but create sustainable highly skilled jobs in the games sector which at that time did not exist in this part of the UK.
Our team, apart from myself, is made up entirely of new blood with no former professional games development experience which we have nurtured and trained to form a team capable of making original video games that can compete on the world stage.
We’ve already gained worldwide critical acclaim for our first console title, Master Reboot, it’s been described as "A gorgeous indie horror" by PC Gamer, "From concept to art style to the wonderful trailer, it’s a breath of fresh, creepy air" by RockPaperShotgun, and "A Freakishly Cool Game Where You Invade The Memories Of Dead People" by Kotaku. It’s been consistently talked about by the world press since release for its unique art direction, narrative, gameplay and has a large growing community of fans internationally.
That title really announced us as a studio and defined us as company, I can honestly say there’s really nothing else quite like it on the market. As well as Master Reboot, we have already developed and self-published 15 other products – including Infinity Runner, Gravity Badgers, Jack Vs Ninjas to name but a few – and established a store front on an array of digital stores’ including Playstation Store, Nintendo eShop, Steam, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Windows Store.
In a short space of time we have created lots of new games jobs in South Wales, made some really cool original titles, won a BAFTA Cymru Award, had over a million downloads of our titles and we even as part of Welsh Tourism have a display dedicated to us at Cardiff airport.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for us and it’s great to see all the hard work we’ve put into building up the company really starting to pay off. We are still very ambitious studio who are passionate about video games and our aim is to create original games that entertain the world as well as put Wales on the video games map (…and have a laugh whilst doing so!).
What differentiates you from similar outfits? What's unique about you?
We pride ourselves in being an unshackled independent developer making our own ideas exclusively from our Pencoed studio in South Wales. This includes all writing, design, programming, art, music, marketing and we even publish our own titles. Our location is definitely a talking point where ever we go in the world as Wales is not associated with games industry but we’ve working hard to change that over the last couple years and we have been instrumental in the continued growth of the game industry in Wales. We are also official Playstation and Nintendo Developers and we self-publish and market all of titles which for a small company with limited resources is unusual. We have a very young team (apart from myself) and we are not frightened to experiment with new ideas and we always dare to be different. We are getting a reputation for re-inventing tired and well policed game genres and our latest title Infinity Runner is a good example of that. We’ve re-interpreted the running game genre and created something really unusual and exciting with it. We are a small company with big aspirations which makes us a UK studio that is one to watch over the next couple of years.
What excites and/or encourages you about the games industry and games development today?
The exciting thing for us as an indie developer is that fact that the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have embraced indie developers liked ourselves and allowed us to bring our titles to their consoles. In the past it felt like a closed door policy if you were a small company it was very unlikely you could ever get your game published in the console market. But now the big three have seen the value of allowing indie developers to support their next generation consoles. Allowing us to get ours hand on the latest dev-kits and make content for the latest gaming consoles is something that is very exciting for the team. It will mean that you’ll get a wider variety of titles that start to explore different aspects of gaming and not just ape games that have come before.
Looking at the Develop Awards finalists, what does it say to you about the industry and development today?
It demonstrates the strength and depth in the UK today and I think most people will be surprised how many games companies there are based here. We used to lead the way in games development and we’ve seem to fall behind other countries in the last 10 years but seeing pedigree of the companies on the list and the new emerging companies then it does bode well that we are starting to become a force to be reckoned with again and I hope in a small way Wales Interactive will play a part in that resurgence to.
Do you have a message for the finalists?
Good luck to all the finalists and I look forward to rubbing shoulders and having maybe having a few drinks with some of you on the night…you are buying btw.
Anything else you'd like to add about your company and the Develop Awards?
It’s important for the continued success and growth of Wales Interactive that we support all the latest next generation devices. We’ve just made the step up to Playstation 4 development as well as supporting all the latest VR hardware and our latest title Infinity Runner is testament to our continued rise as an indie video games developer. It’s been described as “Faster than a silver bullet” and “Werewolves in Space!” and supports Oculus Rift as well as Project Morpheus. Infinity Runner really demonstrates how our team has evolved over the last 18 months to make quality next generation titles that still maintain our unique studio identity. You can check out our latest launch trailer here: http://www.walesinteractive.com/#!infinity-runner/c1g7s
Being a finalist in the Develop Awards is very humbling especially when you see the pedigree of the companies nominated. It’s great to be rubbing shoulders with some of the giants of the games industry and some of developers and personalities we admire. To be a finalist is reward enough for us giving it’s so early on in the company’s life, it’s great to get this recognition for our achievements to date and we're really looking forward to the awards night in July.
About The Develop Awards
The 2014 Develop Awards will take place on Wednesday, July 9th at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Brighton, and recognises the best innovators and development talent in the UK and Europe.
If you want to attend, you can book single seats and standard or gold tables by contacting Kathryn.Humphrey@intentmedia.co.uk or calling 01992 535646.
There are multiple new awards this year, with a total of 24 prizes up for grabs, while PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny is 2014's Development Legend.
There is a host of big names backing this year's Develop Awards, including Crytek and Deep Silver as Platinum Partners, a slew of Gold Partners in UKIE, Amiqus, Keywords International, Codemasters, Perforce, Cubic Motion and Unity, Event Partners Wales Interactive, InnoGames and Tandem Events and Table Gift Partner OPM.
For more information on the sponsorship and partnership opportunities still available, contact Alex.Boucher@intentmedia.co.uk or call 01992 535647.
You can find out more about the Develop Awards at the official Develop Awards website.