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26 January, 2021 - 15:43 By Tony Quested

Home rule as Frontier piles on the revenues

Cambridge video games doyen Frontier Developments is expected to unveil significantly higher first-half 2001 revenues next week (February 3).

It is forecasting total revenue of approximately £37 million – a 16 per cent increase year-on-year.

Trading in the current financial year to date is ahead of the board's original expectations although CEO David Braben concedes that extended home working has created additional development challenges.

For example, Frontier Foundry title Lemnis Gate is now planned for release in FY22 rather than this year. Notwithstanding the decision to move certain releases to FY22, the board continues to expect that revenue for FY21 will be in the range of £90m-£95m.

More than 90 per cent of the Cambridge Science Park company’s people are still working from home.

Trading in the first six months of the current financial year (June to end-November, 2020) was in-line with expectations, with strong performances from all four existing titles, including major new platform launches for Planet Coaster and Jurassic World Evolution in November.  

Revenue in December, which is typically the biggest month of the year for video game sales, was stronger than expected across all four titles, with both base games and paid downloadable content selling ahead of expectations. As a result, trading in the current financial year to date is ahead of the board's original expectations.

Frontier’s next major internally developed release is Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, which is a major new paid era for Elite Dangerous, allowing commanders to explore distant worlds on foot for the first time, taking on new missions and engaging in intense tactical combat, seamlessly merging with Elite Dangerous' iconic cockpit experience. 

Premiered during The Game Awards in December, reaction to the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey trailer has been positive and encouraging in advance of its release this year, the company says.

Over its lifetime Elite Dangerous has already generated over £100m in revenues, with over four million base game units sold. A successful strategy to seed new players in advance of the launch of Odyssey yielded an additional eight million base game owners through the launch of Elite Dangerous on the Epic Games Store in November including a 'Free Week'.

Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is expected to release on PC, the biggest platform for Elite Dangerous, before the end of the financial year (which ends on May 31), albeit slightly later than the initial target for Q1 2021 (January to March). This will be preceded by an alpha period. 

The plan for PlayStation and Xbox is to submit console versions for approval as soon as possible after Frontier has released on PC, rather than putting the console developments of Odyssey under additional time pressure by planning for a simultaneous PC/console launch. PlayStation and Xbox console releases will therefore now come in FY22.

The current range of analysts' revenue projections for FY22 is £133m-£153m. 

David Braben said: “2020 was a hard year for a great many people because of the challenges of COVID-19. Despite this, and doubtless helped by lockdown boosting demand for screen-based entertainment around the world, we had a successful year through the hard work and adaptability of our talented teams. 

“Our four great franchises have really long play times and engaging social aspects to them, which make them well-suited to lockdown.

“We know that our Elite Dangerous community are looking forward to the arrival of Odyssey this year and we're focused on delivering the high quality experience that they expect and deserve. 2021 is set to be another great year for Frontier.”

Frontier Developments was named Business of the Year in the 30th Anniversary Business Weekly Awards in 2020, David Braben receiving the coveted trophy in a private ceremony from Kevin Calder of lead forensic sponsor Mills & Reeve.

• Image courtesy of Frontier Developments

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