Fall of Realtime Worlds and recurring cuts ‘only half the story’
The Scottish games industry is not hit by a crisis following the fall of RTW, says an experienced developer from the region.
David Thomson, whose career has seen him work in numerous Scottish companies such as Denki and Slam, did however feel the sector needed more external investment.
“Despite some of the media coverage to the contrary, I don’t believe the Scottish games industry is in crisis. I don’t believe there are any ‘panicked’ companies about to up sticks and move wholesale to another country,” he said.
“The Scottish games industry is in transition. Companies have been trying to move away from the ‘traditional’ model of the industry, where a publisher funds the development of a game.”
Thomson went on to enumerate a range of projects he saw as Scottish success stories, including Ruffian’s Crackdown 2, Proper Games’ Final Fight XBLA reboot and Cohort’s PlayStation Move title The Shoot.
“Firebrand have the best-selling Wii racing game behind Mario Kart, and Digital Goldfish were just included in the Guardian’s Tech 100 list for the second year running,” he continued.
“Companies like Cobra and Digital Goldfish have had success on iPhone, with their own and licensed titles, while Tag and Dynamo have recently received commissions from Channel 4 for public service games.”
In an opinion piece published online, He went on to praise the innovative student development showcase Dare to be Digital, along with Abertay University’s £5 million prototyping fund for the UK.
Though he admitted, as is abundantly clear, the Scottish industry hasn’t had a blemish-free twelve months.
This year has seen Dundee studio Realtime Worlds close at the loss of 250 jobs, along with staff reductions at Denki and Cohort.
“Denki took a different funding model for Quarrel, it’s innovative and highly anticipated game for Xbox, but the eventual lack of a distribution route for an unique experience was an insurmountable obstacle.
“And Realtime Worlds took on a couple of projects of massive scope and scale, that haven’t panned out the way anyone would have liked.”
“But let’s be clear - we’ve stumbled this year for one critical reason. We’re failing to make money,”
“Perhaps some of you reading that think I’m being crass in saying that. I’ve paraphrased Walt Disney on this before and I’m sure I’ll do it again in the future: “We don’t make games to make money; we make money so we can make more games,” said Thomson.
“That’s all there is to it; but right now we are lacking it.
“It’s obviously the key to creating a sustainable games industry, which is part of what is needed to have a strong Scottish sector.
“The Scottish games industry is in transition, and it’s not something that can be solved overnight,” he added.
Thomson called on the public sector, government and media to “adjust their expectations” – as the new measures of success are not going to be job creation and new company registrations.
“The new measures will be based on wealth creation, rights ownership and social contribution,” he said.
“[And] the public sector can certainly provide support, whether through project funding, skills development, improving the country’s infrastructure or perhaps even tax breaks.”