If you were asked to name a hub for online and video game development companies, where would you suggest? Somewhere in California? Bangalore in India, perhaps? Try Leeds. Over the past decade or so, Yorkshire’s coolest city has become a magnet for a range of tech firms, and a number of game studios are thriving both here and elsewhere in Yorkshire.
A Buoyant Industry
The past year has been a challenging one for everyone, but there are some industries that have been able to withstand the unprecedented events better than others – and a few have actually seen business improve. The gaming industry falls into the latter category for obvious reasons. Gaming isn’t just for kids anymore and plenty of adults have spent the extra time on their hands enjoying sports games or perhaps tracking down the best casino low wagering bonus offers for a virtual casino night.
While recent events have accelerated the process, the growth of gaming has been ongoing for some years, and even in 2019, the industry had already exceeded music and movies combined in terms of revenue. There’s an insatiable appetite for new games out there, and there are several businesses in Yorkshire that are stepping up to the plate to meet the demand.
Large and Small
It’s not just small independent game studios that have chosen God’s own county as the ideal place to set up shop. Rockstar Leeds is the UK studio of Rockstar Games, the company that brought us Grand Theft Auto. They are based in Holbeck, just to the south of Leeds city centre, while Team17, who created the original Worms game, is in Wakefield. Other big names include Weaseltron Entertainment and Barog Game Labs, both in Leeds and Revolution Games in York.
Then there are a dozen or so smaller indie studios scattered across the county. Notable examples include Ocean Spark Studios in Huddersfield and BetaJester in York.
That’s simple, why would any business want to base itself anywhere else? Seriously, though, the whole tech community has coalesced to create a hub around the Leeds area in a way that reminds you of those video representations of how planets form. By 2003, there were enough gaming companies here to justify setting up their own industry network called Game Makers Yorkshire (GAMAYO). This served as a magnet to attract yet more businesses to the area or to inspire local developers to turn their hobby into a business.
That talent pool is getting bigger with every passing year. The nine universities dotted around the county have some of the most respected gaming, programming and animation courses in the entire country, and attract talented young coders, designers and technicians from all over the world. Many of them arrive in Yorkshire and decide to stay for good – and who can blame them?
It’s easy to be cynical about the rise of video games – but in the 2020s, they are not just a form of entertainment, they are also a vital part of the local economy.