Business

Bristol video games developer acquired in deal worth at least £6m

A Bristol-based company that develops and publishes video games has been acquired in a deal worth at least £6m.

Independent studio Auroch Digital, which is based in St Pauls, is the maker of games such as space strategy title Mars Horizon on the Nintendo Switch, XBox and PlayStation.

It also makes tabletop games, having previously collaborated with Warhammer manufacturer Games Workshop on the board game Chainsaw Warrior.

The business has now been purchased by London-listed Sumo Group, the parent company of Sheffield-based developer Sumo Digital, which has also produced games for the industry’s leading consoles.

In a statement published on its website, Sumo Group said the acquisition of Auroch Digital would provide a “complementary development team” to support its publishing division Secret Mode, which it launched earlier this year.

Founded by Tomas and Debbie Rawling in 2010, Auroch Digital employs 48 staff. Mr Rawling, who is the company’s studio director, said it shared many values with Sumo Group, which he said would be a “good home” for the business.

Mr Rawlings said: ”We have a shared desire always to improve the quality and depth of the games we make, a commitment to being a positive and respectful workplace, a desire to invest in new talent, and a shared wish to make a lot of fun, engagement and gameplay for all.

“Auroch Digital joining Sumo Group really is the natural next step in our journey and we’re really excited to be taking it together.”

Sumo Group has identified Bristol as a key strategic location, as it seeks to tap into the talent pool of the city’s burgeoning tech and gaming sector.

Carl Cavers, chief executive of Sumo Group, said: “Given our increasing focus on Own-IP (intellectual property), we are particularly excited by Auroch Digital’s pipeline of original IP.

“So, while this is a relatively small acquisition, it is a highly significant one for us strategically.”

Among those to congratulate Auroch Digital on its successful sale was the Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), a group of established entrepreneurs that has invested £10m in growing South West businesses over the past five years.

BPEC members invested £200,000 into Auroch Digital three years ago, to help it fund the creation of its games.

Jerry Barnes, founder of Bristol Private Equity Club said after seeing the early potential of Auroch Digital, it had proved a “fantastic return” for investors.

Mr Barnes said: “We backed a very small company, enabling it to grow from 15 people to 48 and now that backing has come to fruition.

“It is a life-changing moment for the founders and also sees the club members that backed them receive at least four times return on their investment. Depending on future performance there could be up to ten times return.”

Mr Rawlings said: “This deal is a life-changing moment for us and the next step on our business journey. To receive backing from well-established Bristol-based entrepreneurs gave us the boost we needed to get us to the success we are celebrating today.”

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