Dundee Company profiles - Simian Industries
Simian Industries, formed in July 2001 by ex-Scottish Games Alliance chairman Mark Ettle, has quickly grown to become one of Scotland’s leading games developers.
The company, which now employs 12 staff, occupies the top floors of the prestigious City Tower and commands a perfect view of the entire city centre, the idyllic Tay valley estuary and beyond – on a clear day, that is.
Simian’s main development areas and specialities lie with developing creative content for the burgeoning new technology market. The first big contract that Simian Industries picked up on its launch was to create a raft of Java-based games for Hutchison 3G.
“For a start-up company to deal with one of the biggest companies in this field was a bit of a coup,” says Ettle.
“We were developing games for mobile technology that didn’t yet exist. It was a little scary, especially since we were a new company. But we have come out well.”
Mobile space – mobile phones and wireless technology – has really taken off. And, with the introduction of 3G – all-singing, all-powerful and all-dancing – phones in the near future, the market will only grow, predicts Ettle.
“Phones are now almost as powerful as a Game Boy Advance for gaming, and games should be able to take full advantage of this.”
He continues: “People are used to playing games on phones that are very limited, almost WAP or html-enabled-like. By the very nature of the phones the games are limited. We took a risk. Even the mobile phone makers were telling us that we shouldn’t be able to do what we were doing. But the risk has paid off.”
As yet, Simian Industries is still awaiting the release of its first game. However, a wealth of games is waiting for release in December to try to capture the Christmas markets. However, Ettle is pleased with his company’s development: “As soon as you add humans to the mix nothing normally runs smoothly. But we have created 16 different titles, all of which were on budget, to specification and delivered on time. And in the games industry that is very unusual.
“That has helped us build trust, and now that the technology is starting to take off we are in a good place to capitalise. Because we have worked with Hutchison from day one, people know that they can work with us.”
The success of 3G phones is reliant on the network rolling out, but Ettle is confident that it is coming, despite the pleasure taken by the Great British press in knocking anything new.
“Because of this, the public may not be aware of what can be done. But people will start to find out and utilise it properly. Last year there was a five to ten per cent growth in mobile use. The internet only saw a one or two per cent increase. Until the public can see what it can do, they can do without it. ‘It’s new technology, why do we need it?’ Well, ten years ago people were saying that about the mobile.”