Morning business news - September 5Friday 05 September 2014 10.48
Dublin-based Digit Game Studios has launched what is believed to be the biggest budget video game ever developed in Ireland. With €3.5m in venture capital investment behind it, Digit has just released Kings of the Realm. Its ambition is to sign up a million players. To that end, Digit has received a boost from Google which has listed Kings of the Realm as one of three games featured on the home page of its Google Play online store. Google's Android operating system, for which Google Play is the online portal through which to purchase and download applications and games, is the world's most popular. It will expose Kings of the Realm to tens of millions of potential users.
Digit Games Studio's chief executive is Richard Barnwell says the company has been busy since the new game's launch, with tens of thousands of new players now signed up. He said that Digit has been around for about two and a half years, adding that game firms need a lot of capital upfront to create and develop a new game. Its main competitor game - Game of War - adds about a million new players a day.
Mr Barnwell says that in order for a game to be successful, it has to be liked around the world and appeal to all cultures. When first coming up with a concept of a new game, the company has to try and predict what will appeal to mass populations in two to three years, as well as following popular trends on television and social media. He says that The Hobbit was the big movies a few years ago, with sequels planned, and so they decided to go the fantasy route. He says that while the company - and its 20 employees based out of Dublin - is fully focused on Kings of the Realm, it is looking to expand in future years. A game has a life cycle of around three to five years, is new updates are released every month, he adds.
MORNING BRIEFS - The euro slipped below $1.30 cents following yesterday's rate cut and announcement of further stimulus measures by the European Central Bank. The dollar gained 1.6% against the single currency which is now at its lowest exchange rate against the greenback in 14 months.
*** Exploration company Tullow Oil has reached an agreement to sell its Dutch subsidiary with various North Sea gas assets for just under €63m. AU Energy, a subsidiary of the Swiss commodity group Mercuria Energy, is the buyer.
*** University College Dublin (UCD) has been ranked fifth in a list of European universities whose undergraduates have raised significant amounts of venture capital for their businesses. US-based research firm Pitchbook, which compiled the list, calculated that between 2009 and August this year, 31 UCD graduate entrepreneurs established 26 companies which raised $112m in funding.
*** Penalties for oil company BP over the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, in which 11 oil rig workers were killed, could be as high as $18 billion after a US court ruled the company acted with gross negligence and wilful misconduct. The ruling means BP now faces the maximum possible penalties under the US clean water act which, in the case of the 2010 explosion and subsequent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, would be $18 billion. BP has only set aside $3.5 billion to pay penalties under the Clean Water Act. Its shares fell 6% following the ruling.