Monday 23 October 2017

Digit plans gaming incubator strategy to become leading indie games studio

Tom Lyons

Digit Game Studios, which last week launched what will become Ireland's largest indie games studio, will develop a start-up games incubator and run an intern programme for students in its new Dublin office.

The Anglo-Irish company has taken 5,000 sq ft in a revamped old warehouse near South City Quay in Dublin 2, capable of accommodating over 50 workers. Richard Barnell, a co-founder of Digit and former chief executive of Jolt Online, said Digit was already working on its first game which he described as cross-platform and "hard core social".

"It is basically a game that people can dive into really easily but it has quite a lot of depth to it," he said, "It is a strategy type game like the classics Command & Conquer or Age of Empires," he said.

Mr Barnell and his fellow co-founders have raised $1.25m from Delta Partners, Act Venture Capital and Enterprise Ireland in their first funding round.

Martin Frain, Digit chief marketing officer and ex-marketing director with games giant Electronic Arts, said: "The games industry is bigger than the movie industry and we've got a business plan for the next few years." Digit's other co-founders are art director Fergus Duggan, who previously worked on Lara Croft's Tomb Raider, and ex-Popcap engineer David McGovern.

The studio considered setting up in the UK but went with Dublin because of investor support and the availability of talent already working in multi-national games companies and elsewhere. Digit hopes to emulate the success of American indie games studios like Kabam and Kixeye in Dublin, Mr Barnell said.

"The business model is free to play," Mr Frain said. "But as you progress in the game you charge. People will only pay us what they feel it's worth over the course of time they spend playing. It is difficult thing to get right."

Frain said Digit hoped to run an intern programme for students interested in gaming once it had hired its first round of senior staff. The company is advertising 15 senior positions at the moment but declined to say how many it ultimately hoped to hire.

"Part of what we are also doing is building an incubator programme for smaller start-ups who could benefit from our experience," Mr Frain said. Digit is already fitting-out its office for the first of these.

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