he boss of Frontier Developments today said the firm has seen a Covid sales and profits bump as new and returning gamers use their pandemic-era free time to play more video games.
The AIM-listed firm, which develops and publishes the blockbuster-based game ‘Jurassic World Evolution’, said in an interim results statement that sales across all its games, plus contributions from new platform launches, saw revenues up 15% to £36.9 million in the six months to November 30.
The Cambridge-based company, which was formed in 1994 and now has 600 employees after hiring 175 people in 2020, reported operating profits of £6.9 million, up from £4.5 million in the same period a year earlier.
The firm said it saw “player numbers for all titles continue to expand strongly” in the half.
Chief executive David Braben told the Standard: “Clearly we’ve seen a significant uptick in sales of our games, and also in engagement. The games we make have very long play times, they’re very social, and that’s what a lot of us are craving while cramped up in virtual house arrest – interacting with other people.
“We’ve seen new gamers come, and we’ve also seen a lot of returners – people we might not have seen playing games for a year or more reappearing… This is a combination of a lot of people who possibly didn’t have enough free time before and do now, or people who are coming from other media.”
Braben said that he is confident that this new cohort of gamers will remain on as consumers post-pandemic.
“If you look at it historically, during recessions games tend to do very well, as it’s a cheaper form of entertainment you can do at home,” he said. “And there is a lot of evidence to suggest that games are sticky – once people begin calling themselves gamers, they tend to continue calling themselves gamers.
“I think what we are seeing is an acceleration of what was already happening within the entertainment sector – a lot of screen time moving to interactive time, whether it’s playing games, watching games or talking about games, the whole social side of entertainment where people do things as a group.
“That’s a real positive, so even as the pressure of coronavirus starts to ease, we should see a real set of people staying with games.”
Frontier looks to explore “underserved areas of the games market”. Last summer the firm announced three additional releases on top of its release schedule to May 2021 – ‘Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition’, and two new games – ‘Lemnis Gate’ and ‘Struggling’ – from Frontier Foundry, the firm’s new games label for third-party publishing.
The firm, which reported a net cash balance of £34.9 million at the end of the period, said that Frontier Foundry is “set to become a material part of the business in the future”.
UK-listed gaming companies have seen their share prices soar in recent years.
According to data from The Game Economy, 2020 saw more than $40 billion in investment and deal-making in the sector.
Frontier uses profits generated from sales of its main games to fund the development of new products at its Frontier Foundry label, rather than looking to acquire smaller developers.