Melbourne 'work for hire' game developer Playside scores Warner Bros deal

Melbourne 'work for hire' game developer Playside scores Warner Bros deal

Playside Studio team members celebrating the release of a new campaign mode for Age of Darkness: Final Stand earlier this year. 

Shares in Melbourne-headquartered 'work for hire' game developer Playside Studios (ASX: PLY) have jumped almost 8.5 per cent today to their highest levels seen since February, after signing a 'groundbreaking' multi-game license agreement with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The company, which increased its staff count by 100 in FY23 with a 90 per cent spike in underlying revenue to $38.4 million, reported this morning that Warner Bros had agreed to provide Playside with a 'highly recognisable intellectual property' under licence to develop two PC/console titles.

Development on the first title will commence immediately and a joint announcement concerning the details of both the intellectual property and game will be released in the first half of calendar 2024.

As part of the agreement, PlaySide will pay Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment several license payments during the development phase of the title, followed by a royalty based on revenue derived from the games during the term of the agreement.

"This agreement is a groundbreaking moment for PlaySide, the culmination of years of effort building relationships with Hollywood studios and investing in our PC and Console development expertise. It is also consistent with our plans to develop larger titles," says Playside Studios CEO Gerry Sakkas, who co-founded the group in 2011 after starting his career as a game designer with Electronic Arts (EA).

"We are huge fans of the IP we are working with and are thrilled to be entrusted with the task of bringing it to life for other fans.

"We are proud to be partnering with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which has a longstanding history of supporting the extension of its franchises such as Batman into video games and has enjoyed recent success with the likes of Hogwart’s Legacy. I look forward to sharing more details with you soon."

At the company's annual general meeting (AGM) last month, Playside Studios upped its FY24 revenue guidance by $5 million to $55-60 million, which at its upper end would represent 56 per cent year-on-year growth.

"We have continued to aggressively pursue and advance our key strategic objectives of developing world class games based on our own IP, being at the forefront of games development and delivering outstanding quality and services on our Work for Hire to major clients, and the development of partnerships with the likes of Netflix and others," chairman Cris Nicolli said at the AGM.

"We continue to invest in our Original IP strategy and key licences, with a bias towards pushing the boundaries of our game development to larger titles for PC/Console.

"While costlier and taking longer to develop, the potential returns are significantly more impactful should the game(s) be successful."

The group has grown significantly since its 2020 initial public offering (IPO) when it had 70 staff to now having more than 300 employees on the books.

"We are the largest game developer in Australia and one of the largest independent developers in the world," co-founder Sakkas said at the meeting.

"As a co-founder that is heavily invested in PlaySide I can say that it is pleasing to have a share register that not only includes many of our employees but also institutional and retail investors that are still with us from the IPO.

"I want to take this opportunity to confirm to our investors that the business is in the strongest position it has ever been - both financially and in terms of the opportunities that lay in front of us - and we have a very clear plan in place to create value for shareholders over the medium-term."



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