What is your role at Double 11?
I joined Double Eleven shortly after it commenced trading in 2010 and my official title has always been that of Finance Director. However, like many directors of small businesses, as the company has grown I have learnt to wear many different hats, including overseeing all company legal, HR, business development, finance (of course) and general operations. In all honesty, most of those I had no real practical experience in when I joined the board, it goes without saying I’ve had to learn a lot on the fly!
If anyone told me when I qualified ACA back in 2008 that within 10 years I would be signing multi-million pound deals and liaising directly with the likes of Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft and Warner Bros, I probably would have laughed in their faces, but this is where I am and what a journey it’s been. Don’t get me wrong it’s been hard work, but alongside the rough I’ve had the pleasure of the smooth which includes visiting some amazing cities across the globe, building lasting relationships with some of the biggest companies in the world and feeling every day like I have the best job in the world.
What does the future hold for Double 11?
So far we have successfully completed what we believe are the two main stages in the company’s life cycle to date:
- We spent the first few years building a flawless reputation amongst industry heavy weights as a very technically skilled work for hire team. We grew from 2 to almost 50 people in less than 2 years working on Sony Europe’s biggest franchise LittleBigPlanet. We could have continued in this vein however the only way to scale is to increase staff numbers and that tends not to be sustainable in this industry long term.
- In 2013 we made the bold move to restructure and diversify into the publishing market. Now with multiple published titles under our belts from licensing, funding and developing existing IPs for new markets, we see the success of the niche we have created for ourselves reflected in our financial performance. We have also received great recognition for our success via the North East Businesses Let’s Grow Award and also our #4 ranking as the fastest growing private tech companies from Manchester to Scotland. https://technorthhq.com/reports/northern-tech-100-league-table/
Most companies in our industry are set up with one task; to work on new content. If that fails, usually so does the company. The biggest hope you have in those instances is that your game does well enough to give you another spin at the roulette wheel.
With internal prototypes being green lit and put into full development in the coming months, 2018 will see the launch of our first title built within the studio from scratch. It has taken 8 years to get to this point, but it comes with minimal risk and cements the current, third stage in the company’s life cycle.
Alongside everything else we do successfully we are now committed to making our own games without the company being reliant on the success of each. Do bear in mind Angry Birds was Rovio’s 55th game!
What is your favourite thing about the video games industry and how do you see it evolving in the North East?
What I love most about working for Double Eleven and being in the video games sector in general is that it is probably one of the most fast paced industries out there; it is continually changing and constantly innovating. You have no choice but to remain agile and willing to adapt to its fast pace. The great advantage for us is that we have no external shareholders or directors, therefore we have the ability to act fast and make decisions very quickly which definitely gives us a competitive advantage.
With new creative sector tax reliefs, increasing amounts of local digital hubs and low barriers to entry, video games has never been a more attractive market for individuals and new start ups. An individual working on one idea in their bedroom with no overheads can see similar financial success to a 600 man AAA studio, which is crazy, but most certainly true.
Your best tip for businesses?
As pessimistic as it sounds I genuinely believe everything is temporary, so enjoy the highs when they come your way but always plan for the lows just in case.
Getting money back from the tax man for R&D and Games Tax is great – as a business, what do you do with the funds?
Video Games Tax Relief was introduced by the government for the creative sector mid 2014 and has had a significant impact on our business ever since. And whilst I was a bit dubious about it originally, making the claims is becoming more straightforward and we haven’t had to adapt our operations to be entitled to it which is even better.
We reinvest any relief received into increasing staff benefits including fully paid private health care, December off work for the whole team and a performance related annual bonus scheme.
Our staff are skilled enough to work anywhere in the world so it goes without saying we have to make Double Eleven the only choice. On that note, we haven’t lost a developer in over 3 years, so we must be doing something right.