Video games development: 'Wales can be global player'

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Media captionThere are 65 video games studios in Wales

"Everything is here" for Wales to be a global player in the video games industry, according to a man training the next generation of developers.

Lecturer Simon Reed is one of a number of industry figures pushing for Wales to tap into the huge global market.

With 30 games companies, Cardiff lags far behind other UK towns and cities, including Bristol which has 50.

But there are 65 studios across Wales and some founders think they no longer need to be based in big cities.

The global gaming industry is worth more than £110bn and is projected to grow to £144bn by 2021, according to industry body UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE).

Image caption Lecturer Simon Reed says Wales is fully capable of tapping into a market worth £110bn globally

Cardiff is 16th in the table of UK towns and cities with the most gaming companies, a position Mr Reed sees improving.

"The skills are here, the education is here, the infrastructure is here," the University of South Wales lecturer said.

"Everything is here for Cardiff to be a big global player if it wants to be."

The relative lack of small games studios in Wales is because a large company has never set up a studio here and then closed down, according to Susan Cummings, from Cardiff-based Tiny Rebel Games.

"Small companies in the gaming industry tend to come out of big companies," she explained.

"So [for example] Sony opens a bunch of offices, eventually they have lay-offs and some of those people stay together and start new companies."

Image caption David Banner and Richard Pring, co-founders of Wales Interactive, do not think companies need to be in big cities to be successful

But companies do not need to set up in cities any longer, says David Banner, co-founder and managing director of Wales Interactive, a games company based in Pencoed, Bridgend.

"With the advent of technology and the internet making the world a lot smaller, you don't have to necessarily be in those big cities any more," he said.

"We compete with the likes of Rockstar, EA. Even though we're a Welsh-based company, our audience is not just people who live in Wales."

The Welsh Government is due to publish a report later this year on the digital sector and how emerging industries, including gaming, should be supported.

Mr Reed believes it could be a huge opportunity for the Welsh economy.

"What we've seen in the past few years especially is for those students... a lot of those have set up their own studios locally," he explained.

"They're striving to bring work into the economy rather than just move away from it."

Welsh companies have enjoyed much success, including Wales Interactive which has more than 30 titles and a string of industry awards.

Thud Media, Jam Creative and Bait Studios are all making an impact on the sector.

The success has been put down to a growing pool of talent, due in part to university courses in games design and development that are now feeding the sector with staff ready to work in the industry.

Ms Cummings added: "There's a tonne of tremendous people here.

"There's wonderful audio talent in Wales, there's wonderful film talent in Wales and the game development side is something that's really being nurtured now."

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