Frontier is a video games developer which is at the forefront of the world gaming industry. Adviser spoke to Yvonne Dawes , Head of HR at their Cambridge headquarters to ask how Frontier have remained a leading player in such a fast- moving industry, and how having a competitive package of employee benefits has enabled them to recruit and retain the best employees in this field.
Frontier started in 1994 but only recently went independent. How has the company changed? Frontier was founded in 1994 and worked with some of the games industry’s biggest publishers for much of our 25 years, but in 2014 we went independent with the release of Elite Dangerous. Since then we’ve developed and self-published our rollercoaster park simulation game Planet Coaster and the dinosaur park-building game Jurassic World Evolution, in which players can build and run their own Jurassic World. from a small handful of developers to the hundreds we have today. Game development is a colossal undertaking these days, requiring game designers, producers, artists, animators, programmers, audio designers, testers and many, many more talented people in all kinds of roles to bring incredible worlds to life. Since going independent we’ve moved into a new studio space on Cambridge’s Science Park and the studio has grown to almost 400 people. Today we’re proud to have been recognised as the UK’s largest independent publisher/developer of videogames. We’re approaching our 25th anniversary next January and since ’94 the company has grown
Elite was the first big game that put you on gaming map – why do you think that succeeded in such a big way? Elite actually launched some ten years before the studio. It was developed by our CEO and founder David Braben and Ian Bell while at Cambridge University and it launched in 1984. David later founded Frontier in 1994. Many people still speak very fondly of Elite, and it means a lot to the studio. Elite was an early example of ‘open-world’ games, giving players a whole virtual galaxy to explore from the cockpit of their spacecraft. That notion of being a space pilot in a far-off future captured players’ imaginations, and there are players exploring the galaxy in Frontier’s fourth Elite game – Elite Dangerous – over thirty years later. Frontier launched Elite Dangerous in 2014 and it is still under constant development. Elite Dangerous fully simulates the entire Milky Way in its full scale, giving players the chance to live a life as a bounty hunter, trader, smuggler, miner or any number of roles out in our real galaxy in the far-flung 34th century.
The industry has changed over the last 20-odd years - what are the main changes to have affected Frontier? The industry has changed a lot! But Frontier has always been on the cutting edge of technology. We’ve developed games for new consoles, virtual reality, Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller and their Hololens augmented reality headset, and worked with many other emergent technologies. Obviously the technology changes, but for us the most decisive change has been the rise of digital distribution in the last five years. Today more and more gamers are buying their games direct from console and PC digital stores, rather than buying games on disc. Frontier is a digital-first company and we self-publish our games on console and PC. This way we can have a close relationship with our community, and can develop living games that are constantly updated with fresh new content.
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