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Meteoric rise for Middlesbrough gaming company Double Eleven

The Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 Awards, organised in partnership with The Journal, celebrate the region’s fastest growing companies, championing their success. This year, Middlesbrough-based video gaming developer and publisher Double Eleven won the fastest growing large business of the year award. Alongside Ward Hadaway’s Jamie Gamble, we spoke to finance and commercial director Kimberley Turner about the company’s growth and how it’s established itself as a leader in the video gaming industry.

“If you told me a decade ago that Double Eleven would be the studio responsible for bringing Red Dead Redemption to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Kimberley Turner. “We started out in mobile gaming but we’ve worked incredibly hard to grow our operations significantly. We now work with some of the biggest gaming brands in the world, not only developing games for PCs and consoles, but publishing them too. Our reputation for being a trusted and safe pair of hands with an extremely talented team has been fundamental to our continued organic growth.”

And just like the games it produces, the success of Double Eleven has been nothing short of meteoric. Shifting from being only a video gaming service provider to self-publisher and licensing games for the consoles market, Double Eleven recorded a 400 per cent growth rate in sales to £50m between 2020 and 2022.

Kimberley continues: “We’ve gone from a handful of people in an attic to a state of the art office in Middlesbrough employing nearly 380 people. And the vast majority of our team, around 260 people, are based in Middlesbrough or the wider North East. It’s something we’re very proud of and we work hard to develop and retain our talented people through continuous professional development and a wide range of employee benefits and initiatives. Nurturing a community-centric culture where innovation thrives alongside the growth and wellbeing of our team is our absolute priority – and it will remain that way no matter what.”

If there’s one aspect of the business that Double Eleven never falters on it is employee care and the people-focused culture at the company. The developer and publisher is renowned for its supportive environment in an industry often criticised for poor working conditions. The company has won several ‘Best Place to Work’ awards for its employee initiatives which have included financial support to help every team member with the cost-of-living crisis. Employees have received salary increases as well as several one off payments to help with rising costs.

“Looking after our team is our number one priority as they are our most valuable asset,” explains Kimberley. “We’re not just a business, we’re a people-first organisation and we work hard to ensure every team member feels valued and supported. Our efforts to bring the team together through a wide range of social and wellbeing initiatives are more than just having some time out from the day-to-day, they’re about building a community. This is especially important for those who’ve relocated to join us in Middlesbrough, helping them and their families to integrate and enjoy the region. We constantly strive to enhance our benefits and our employee turnover is very low so we must be doing something right.”

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Established in 2010 by two gaming engineers, the company has played a pivotal role in developing several major gaming hits since its inception, such as Red Dead Redemption and Minecraft Dungeons. In this year alone, sales have grown by approximately 125 per cent.

Jamie Gamble, a partner at Ward Hadaway, said: “Huge congratulations to Double Eleven on their well-deserved recognition as the largest fastest growing business at this year’s Fastest 50 Awards. The company’s remarkable journey and achievements are a testament to its innovative spirit and dedication to originality. Double Eleven’s ability to constantly evolve and lead in the competitive global gaming industry is impressive and their focus on people wellbeing is inspirational. They prioritise their employees, creating a workplace environment where individuals can thrive and excel. This dedication to the overall wellbeing of their team members not only enhances productivity but also reflects a strong sense of community within the organisation. We look forward to seeing their continued impact and growth in the North East and beyond.”

With so much success achieved in a decade and a half, one might ask what other strings to their already carefully curated bow could Double Eleven add. That comes in the form of the organisation’s own intellectual property (IP) development, a strategic move that not only diversifies its offering but also showcases the company’s ability to create original gaming experiences. In the next few years, one of Double Eleven’s key priorities is focused on developing its own IP department as it continues its growth journey.

Kimberley adds: “Work hard and be relentless. And always be honest with your people, partners and everyone that you work with. These values have been core to our success and enabled us to put the North East region on the global video gaming map – and we intend to keep it that way.”

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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