The growing Northern Ireland games industry

By: July 16, 2022
norther ireland games industry

The gaming industry has become one of the largest industries within the entertainment sector and is only set to become bigger, with the global gaming market set to reach $256.97 billion by 2025.

Northern Ireland’s blossoming gaming industry contributes to this success, and it has seen an increasing number of innovative gaming studios and many successful games being developed in recent years.

The gaming scene began emerging in Northern Ireland about 15 years ago and has grown to encompass 15 studios.

Although not a gaming studio, an initiative that helped to boost the gaming industry in Northern Ireland was the creation of The Pixel Mill; a collaborative co-working space established by Northern Ireland Screen, that provides game developers with an accessible space to create ideas.

One developer that has been supported by Northern Ireland Screen and The Pixel Mill is Out of Tune Games.

Out of Tune Games
A new developer, emerging from the Northern Irish gaming industry, Out of Tune Games was founded by Mal Duffin and Matt McCrum in March 2020.

Originally from Belfast, the pair were brought together by Northern Ireland Screen while taking part in its year-long ‘Platform Programme’.

From world-class TV drama and feature films to exciting video games, Northern Ireland Screen has helped to fund and develop a range of different projects and establish new studios.

Rory Clifford, Northern Ireland Screen’s interactive manager, said: “It is great to see Out of Tune progress from our platform programme and develop exciting new relationships of their own in the industry. We look forward to seeing what great things result from this partnership with YAHAHA.”

Supporting the next generation of developers
After receiving funding from Northern Ireland Screen, Mal and Matt developed the Out of Tune Games studio with a mission to make entertaining games while supporting the next generation of developers.

Via The Pixel Mill, the pair had the opportunity to take on 12 trainee apprentices through the Restart scheme to help work on its games. As part of their learning, these apprentices also collaborated on a game prototype and a 10-page game pitch to sell the concept. This proved to be a great and unique opportunity for the trainees and reinforced Out of Tune’s mission, the games they worked on included Voxel Brawler and Suffer a Witch.

“We are incredibly grateful to have been part of the Northern Ireland Screen’s Platform Programme, as it has led to us being able to create our own studio together,” says Mal Duffin, co-founder of Out of Tune Games.

“We really love having the opportunity to help young developers enhance their design skills, by offering them an encouraging work environment and real life experience in the games industry. We are so excited to share the innovative games that these young people have helped to create.”

The studio’s first self-published multiplayer game, ‘Crooks Like Us’, was a success, as players competed to steal the highest value items within the time limit.

After developing its first game, which is available on steam, Out of Tune Games were eager to integrate ‘Crooks Like Us’ into the web 3.0 gaming arena, allowing trainee developers to experiment and create their own spaces within the game.

This resulted in Out of Tune Games signing a deal with Yahaha Studios, a social entertainment platform that encourages users to create, to licence ‘Crooks Like Us’ on YAHAHA.

This partnership has numerous benefits for Out of Tune Games as YAHAHA can support the studio to grow, reaching a new audience of creators. Not only that, it also widens the opportunities for younger developers to showcase their skills.

The YAHAHA tools
Through a community of creators and no-code creation options that are as easy as drag and drop, YAHAHA is helping those with little or even no experience to advance their skills in a safe environment.

By using the YAHAHA tools users are able to create virtual experiences, content and games, as well as connect with community members socially and for support.

Mal and Matt now have three part time employees and work with a team of creators, including trainees, placement students and freelancers. They are passionate about giving young game developers an opportunity to showcase their skills and develop the tools they need in order to further their gaming career.

With plans to grow the Out of Tune Games studio, Mal and Matt have two more innovative games currently in development.

“YAHAHA is a platform that encourages young developers to create their own innovations,” says Pengfei Zhang, co-founder, COO at Yahaha Studios, says. “Our mission is to democratise 3D content creation, so it is important that we are able to provide a space for users to explore their creative abilities and design skills in 3D. We love working with Out of Tune Games, not only do they produce amazon games, the teams mission to give young developers opportunities within the industry is very similar to YAHAHA’s aim of helping creators acquire 3D content creation experience.”

As the Northern Ireland games industry continues to grow, it also continues to support young game developers.

By funding projects, creating safe spaces for developers to explore their innovations and encouraging studios to partner with game creators, Northern Ireland is paving the way for developers to produce exciting new projects.

If you’re a student that likes creating, or want to learn more about building environments and games, login to YAHAHA and join the fun.

Written by Tilly O’Brien.

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