Over the past few years, both Harrogate and Leeds’ role in local gaming has reached new heights. The two Yorkshire-based locations are at the forefront of bringing revolutionary concepts to the county’s entertainment sector. It speaks volumes about the area’s status within the gaming world that Rockstar, the creators of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, opened a studio in Leeds back in December 1997. Since then, the subsidiary has worked collaboratively on much-loved titles, including L.A. Noire and Max Payne 3.
While Rockstar’s Leeds-based hub is pivotal to Rockstar Games’ global operations, it’s somewhat laid the foundations for other game-related companies to emerge throughout the county. However, it isn’t only gaming businesses that are integrating game-related technology into their operations. So, let’s analyse the growth of immersive gaming in Harrogate and Leeds.
A Hub for World-Renowned Game Studios
It’s no secret that Rockstar is one of the biggest game studios in the world, and the developer’s parent company, Take-Two, registered annual revenues of £2,224 billion in 2020. Previously known as Mobius Entertainment, the organisation became Rockstar Leeds following Take-Two’s acquisition of Mobius in April 2004. In many ways, this takeover opened the door to the Yorkshire-based company targeting a new audience, with portable games consoles all the rage in the mid-2000s.
Upon becoming Rockstar Leeds, Take-Two didn’t shy away from unveiling its ideas for the portable gaming market. According to the company’s website, the Yorkshire-based studio became the home of their wireless plans. In 2005, Rockstar Leeds worked alongside Rockstar North and Rockstar San Diego to create Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Since its release, the PlayStation Portable version of Liberty City Stories has amassed 7.72 million sales, 2.9 million of those coming in Europe, as per VGChartz.
Over time, Rockstar Leeds has established itself as a pivotal aspect of Rockstar Games. As touched on above, they’ve played their part in developing some of the most popular games of the past two decades, including both Red Dead Redemption titles and Grand Theft Auto V. It’s a testament to their work that Digital Trends lists GTA V as the third-best-selling game of all time with 135 million sales, placing it behind only Minecraft and Tetris.
The Yorkshire-Based Rockstar Games subsidiary’s success laid the foundations for up-and-coming companies to break into the entertainment sector in Leeds. Founded back in 2015, Intelivita specialises in mobile and web app development, and they’ve brought smartphone games like Fantasyji and Mow Mow to the market. Not only that, but they also target Augmented and Virtual reality creations, which are becoming increasingly popular in both Harrogate and Leeds.
Moving Towards Replicating Lifelike Experiences
A collective move towards embracing lifelike components within the gaming sector will likely appeal to the people of Harrogate. In 2020, the AireCon gaming festival returned to the town for three days of all-action gaming content. The event itself is the UK’s second-largest analogue gaming festival, and the activities range from playing board games to engaging in role-playing. The inclusion of role-playing games speaks volumes about the Harrogate gaming community’s desire to immerse themselves in lifelike concepts.
Outside of gaming, local Harrogate-based businesses have sought to integrate technologically advanced elements into their operations to appeal to new audiences. Slingsby Gin, who recently secured major listings in John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, began their virtual reality journey back in 2017. The company uploaded videos to YouTube, which consumers could virtually engage with through cardboard goggles and VR viewers.
While replicating real-world situations is at the forefront of local business operations and gaming events in Harrogate, such a trend has caught on throughout the county. VR Immersive, a Bradford-based company, has sought to combine work with play to deliver immersive VR experiences. Through using the HTC Vive, consumers can immerse themselves in a whole host of VR titles, such as Google Earth VR, Job Simulator, Plank Not Included, Project Cars, and many more. VR Immersion pride themselves on delivering a unique experience to gamers, and they’re able to achieve that by catering to the local audience’s lifelike demands.
Within the 21st century, gamers within the Yorkshire area can immerse themselves in forward-thinking lifelike creations both at land-based establishments like Arcade Club and the online world. While VR Immersive and Slingsby Gin are enjoying fruitful results by adopting the approach, the strategy has long been used within the ever-growing online casino sector to deliver a more realistic experience. Nowadays, online bettors can enjoy a wide-ranging selection of live-dealer roulette titles at Betway. Within their library of roulette games, the operator uses a number of dealers across their Real Roulette series. Through live streaming via HD cameras and a real dealer, the platform’s digital offerings strive to produce authentic lobbies that mirror the thrill of playing at land-based establishments.
Taking Steps in the Right Direction
While Rockstar Leeds is perhaps the pinnacle of game development in Yorkshire, they’ve laid the foundations for other companies to take adventurous steps. AireCon6 is thriving at the Harrogate Convention Centre, and its existence shows there’s a market for reality-changing ideas in the community. Because of that, the likes of Slingsby Gin and VR Immersion have taken note. Now, they seek to provide an all-inclusive experience to their consumers. From the above, it’s clear that immersive gaming opportunities in Harrogate and beyond will continue to grow over the next decade and beyond.