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Game developed by Welsh university graduates becomes global top seller

29 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Sker Ritual by Wales Interactive

A computer game developed by University of South Wales graduates has become the top selling game around the world after being launched earlier this month.

Sker Ritual, a zombie horror game suitable for 1-4 players, is now in the top three downloaded titles on Steam, top five on Xbox and top 10 on PlayStation, as well as being one of the best sellers on PC and Console within a week of its release.

The game was released by Wales Interactive – a company founded by USW graduate Richard Pring.

Richard, 36, who is originally from Devon and has lived in Cardiff since his studies, graduated from Computer Games Programming in 2009, followed by the MA in Animation in 2010.

He established Wales Interactive in 2012, and now employs several USW graduates at the Cardiff-based studio – including Daniel Joseph, Richard Lee Rowlands, Lee Jeffery, Spas Dimitrov, Jack Martin, Ben Tester, Sam Leigh and Sophia Karlson.

Founder of Wales Interactive, Richard Pring

Industry

“I’ve always known that I wanted to go into the computer games industry,” he said.

“With my strong foundation in programming and technology, the degree at USW was an ideal fit for me. After focusing on programming, I pursued an MA because I wanted to lean towards a more technical artist role.

“I was very impressed by Gerald Emanuel, the course leader at the time, who emphasised not just the practical aspects of the field but also the broader focus on self-promotion, business acumen, and networking.

“That inspiration set me on the path to entrepreneurship in Wales. I loved Cardiff and wanted to stay local, but the limited game development opportunities meant I had to either create my own luck or move to larger gaming hubs, like Guildford, or beyond.

“So, I embarked on a business venture with a fellow graduate and Calon, an Animation company based in Cardiff Bay. Our focus was on merging Augmented Reality with clothing and animation – a novel concept in its early stages.

“Sadly, although the venture didn’t take off, it provided invaluable insights into the intricacies of entrepreneurship and company creation.

“While planning my next steps, a job opportunity then arose to map the gaming landscape in Wales – a perfect fit for me, as someone who was keen on both staying in Wales and understanding more of the local industry.”

He added: “This proved to be a great role. During the relatively short period of the Games Lab project, we celebrated some remarkable milestones; the standout accomplishment being the organisation of the first-ever Welsh Games Development showcase in 2011. It was a moment that brought together talent from every corner of Wales, at the Wales Millennium Centre, for a celebration of everything computer games.

“While we did have some great accomplishments, the most pivotal aspect for me, in that role, was meeting my future business partner, David Banner. Without a clear name for it at that point, we made a bold decision: instead of just mapping the industry, we chose to bring it to life. This led to the co-founding of Wales Interactive – a journey we embarked on together.”

Wigame horror

Motivation

Richard says his motivation for setting up his business was to create a significant games industry presence in Wales, and to tap into the local graduate talent pool.

He said: “Over the years, the company has worn many hats – from developers making our own games, to publishers creating and selling indie projects to the likes of PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo. Nowadays, as well as continuing to create and publish, we are set on making our mark on the world of interactive games, being the second largest publishers of Interactive Movies globally after Netflix.

“While our creative projects may have changed, our purpose hasn’t. Since it was founded, Wales Interactive has worked to create a hub for the games industry in Wales to give it a strong, unified voice, as well as showcasing its potential to the people of Wales and highlighting how the industry works and thrives. We have travelled extensively to games hubs across the world, from San Francisco to Japan, to make sure Wales is not only included, but regarded in the global games industry.

Sker Ritual is an intense, round-based, zombie horror shooter. Players can go solo or as teams of up to four, facing relentless waves of Quiet Ones whilst solving mysterious missions, uncovering Easter Eggs, upgrading steampunk weapons and obtaining Miracles – a vast network of Celtic God powers.

Richard said: “It is set in 1914, where Elisabeth Williams has conquered Sker Island, and is now seeking domination with a broadcast of the Siren’s Song. Arianwen, her daughter, has opposed her, and after being mysteriously awakened, you must join her mission to thwart the broadcast and save the world from descending into hell.

“The game is not a direct sequel, but a spin-off from the award-winning British indie horror game, Maid of Sker. Sker Ritual has gained massive popularity due to its intense and engaging gameplay, as well as its interesting premise and appealing visual style. We developed a product to address a niche in the market, and I’m delighted that it holds its own among the top contenders in this industry genre.”


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Ben Jones
Ben Jones
23 days ago

I’ve admired Wales Interactive for some time – doing their part in putting Welsh videogame development on the map. If anybody uses Backloggd, here’s a list / project I was working on to chronicle as much of the Welsh videogaming landscape as I could:

https://www.backloggd.com/u/RdWd/list/-wales-videogames-produced-in-wales–cymru/

blc
blc
22 days ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

I’d never heard of backloggd before, but I’ll check this out, thanks!

tulip
tulip
23 days ago

lets hope plaid and labour dont drive entrepreneurs like thsi away!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
23 days ago

I’m not a gamer, but I do have an interest in virtual worlds (OpensSimulator based) on a hobby basis, so it’s good to see that the video games sector present in Wales. Stories like this certainly make a change from the boringly predictable announcements of yet another tourism related scheme. Wales needs far more development in modern industries, so stories like this are good to hear. Well done Wales Interactive on releasing such a successful game!

blc
blc
22 days ago

It’s great to see this kind of indie dev house setting up shop in Wales. I hope they can really make a success of it while staying true to their artistic vision/direction – the game industry is a brutal place with some truly horrific practices and working conditions.

Guys, if you’re ever hiring for a data/infrastructure nerd then give me a nudge! 😁

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