Braben says investors were initially sceptical that Frontier could self-publish a so-called “AAA” game – the equivalent of what the film industry would call a “blockbuster”.
But after the games took off its revenues ballooned. Investors were given further confidence last year after Chinese tech giant Tencent bought a 9pc stake for £17m and Frontier revealed it was working on Jurassic World Evolution, a game based on the hit film series. Its market value has more than tripled in the past 18 months to £688m.
Its stint as the UK’s sole listed games developer came to an end in December when Sumo Digital, which worked on the PS3 hit LittleBigPlanet, floated with a value of £145m. Two more, Worms developer Team 17, and racing game specialist Codemasters, followed hot on its heels last month.
Neil Patel of City broker Liberum, which handled Codemasters’ and Frontier’s floats, says investors have an increasing appetite for the companies thanks to a change in the way games are distributed. While in the past they were almost always sold as physical products in shops, the industry has been moving away from that model towards digital downloads. That includes mobile phone app stores, but also the online PC game marketplace Steam and services such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, which allow gamers to download the latest £50 title to their console.