IN THE early to mid-1980s, innumerable parents across Scotland were repeatedly, and perhaps even forcefully, explaining to their children that they would never make anything of themselves by playing computer games.

The world has changed somewhat. Grand Theft Auto V, a game with its roots in Dundee, generated $800 million in sales in 24 hours when it was released in 2013.

“The uptake of early home computers, mostly the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 created a huge cottage industry that turned into an industry,” says Doug Hare, chief executive of Outplay Entertainment.

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Based in Dundee, Outplay was founded by Mr Hare and his brother Richard.

Having moved to California to develop titles for Sony’s PlayStation console, they founded The Collective in 1997, which grew organically until it was merged with Backbone Entertainment to form Foundation 9 Entertainment in 2005.

Pieces of that business were sold off to the likes of Amazon, and it was dissolved in 2015, by which time Mr Hare had long departed.

“[By 2009] market conditions had changed significantly in terms of the type of product that looked like it would prevail,” says Mr Hare.

So, having identified the potential in mobile games, the brothers returned to Dundee. “A really large cohort of people that were really interested in making games were doing it from different disciplines and the impact there is what has driven those people like myself who remain in the industry as they have grown older, from programmers to starting their own businesses or running parts of big businesses,” says Mr Hare. “In Scotland, there’s a certain amount of chance. The fact Dundee spawned Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, substantially made the city take on this mantle.”

It was a bold decision, given how favourable California had treated the Hare brothers.

Outplay was set up in August 2010, and the first round of venture capital funding closed in December 2010, before the studio opened in Dundee in April.

The first title was Word Trick, developed to integrate with Facebook.

“We staffed up the core team in a few months,” says Mr Hare. “No one was doing a lot of social and mobile games in the UK, so there was a huge amount of learning going on before getting a game out to market. It wasn’t until 2012 that we started releasing those same games on mobile.”

Mobile is now a key platform for the games industry. Of the $108.9bn expected to be generated globally through video games this year, mobile’s 19 per cent growth will see its revenue reach $46.1bn.

The Global Games Market Report predicts that by 2020, mobile gaming will take more than half the market.

Outplay Entertainment has built a portfolio of seven titles for mobile platforms, with further launches imminent. Among these are Alien Creeps, which has been downloaded 20 million times, and Castle Creeps, which passed two million downloads within five days of its launch in January.

With turnover passing £15 million in 2016, and set to double this year, the decision to return to Dundee and focus on mobile seems inspired.

While the power of console can create in-depth high-definition graphics, Mr Hare said mobiles can easily deliver what gamers wants. “Despite the fact people are walking about with this incredible piece of hardware in their pocket, it doesn’t mean everyone wants to play console style games [on the device]. In fact, people still want to play simple games,” he says.

“You have people who are looking for fun, a moment of joy or delight a few times a day on a coffee break or commute.”

Having reached profitability in 2015 for the first time, in December last year Outplay made its first acquisition with the purchase of Derby-based Eight Pixel Square.

Mr Hare puts the fast rate of growth down to a renewed concentration on user acquisition and running games as a service.

“Finding an audience, even if you make a world class product, is an enormous challenge,” he says. “Even though we’ve been making high quality games from the get go, the part of the business associated with running games as a service, it took a while for us to hit our stride there.”

The business model is to give away the games and generate revenue through in-app purchases. “The potential audience is vast, you can have a game where you can say there have been 10 million downloads, and that is a fraction of a per cent of the potential audience,” says Mr Hare. “We have teams on our games constantly, improving them, adding content, so with Alien Creeps and Mystery Match both have been on stores for three years and both have just had record-breaking days in the last few months, so you can actually grow as opposed to the traditional retail world where there is a shelf-life. This is almost the reverse; you can launch slowly and then build it.”

While this is the focus, new titles are in development, with three titles currently in “soft launch” where they are targeted in specific countries, a “pretty standard” practice in the industry.

“Although you’re a professional who has been doing this for decades it is difficult to truly understand how people who aren’t in the industry respond to things,” he says.

The company’s other focus is to further refine the elements of a game that the player never sees, “whether it’s bringing players in, managing them in games, cross-promotion, how you understand their experience, how you chose to analyse the abundance of data, how we create features that may increase revenue”.

One of the main numbers used to determine a game’s success is the revenue generated per player per day on in-game purchases. The other is how long people keep playing the game for.

“Those are the two numbers the business revolves around,” says Mr Hare.

For Outplay, the numbers are looking pretty impressive.