Driven by a passion for creating unique and cerebral video games, Coatsink was established eight years ago by two graduates from Teeside University, Tom Beardsmore and Paul Crabb. After garnering interest from Oculus and Playstation, Coatsink developed the Oculus VR launch title Esper (and its sequel Esper 2), followed by its first PlayStation 4 title, Shu in 2016. 

In 12 months, Coatsink has grown from a developer of 30, to more than 60 employees working on most major gaming platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita, PS VR, Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and PC. July 2017 saw the release of the pioneering Samsung Gear VR game Augmented Empire, a cyberpunk RPG widely regarded as one of the deepest and most accomplished games on the system. Moreover, A Night Sky, released free on Samsung Gear VR in June 2017, quickly became one of the platform’s most popular downloads and currently receives regular content updates. Coatsink’s biggest success to date in terms of revenue-generation is Gang Beasts, on which it acted as co-developer with Boneloaf, who created the original concept. Gang Beasts started life as a PC game but is now available on a range of platforms.

Coatsink has undergone exponential growth over the past year in terms of both the number and scale of projects undertaken, and is a major presence at UK and international gaming festivals such as EGX, GDC, the Tokyo Game Show, PGC, and PAX.

Coatsink SoftwareSunderland Software CentreTavistock PlaceSunderlandSR1 1PB  www.coatsink.com

“On almost every contract we work on *particular point out the areas we haven’t considered

What we did for them: Matthew first engaged with Tom and Paul more years ago than he cares to remember, when they were working from a small room on the campus of Teesside University, an institution known around the world for its role in the development of 3D animation and games development. Whilst earning a living doing contract work for other studios, even then, Tom and Paul were keen to create their own titles (often misleadingly-referred to in this industry as ‘intellectual property’). Had they both been ten years older, this would probably have been an impossible dream to realise. Getting original games to market involved pressing discs, finding distributors, arranging logistics and so on, not to mention substantial investments in off-line marketing. But the appearance during the noughties of distribution platforms such as Steam, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live enabled independent studios such as Coatsink to get direct access to their consumers. As well as their flair for developing original, design-led family-friendly games, Coatsink’s early days co-incided with the arrival of another famous innovation, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Whilst the Rift may not have been the first ‘VR’ headset and, until recently at least, may not have been accessible by the mass market, it was the first hardware of its type to capture the public’s imagination. All the more so when Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014. Facebook was faced with a problem. How to persuade consumers to purchase the hardware when so little content was available. One of the companies that it turned to in order to break this chicken/egg scenario was Coatsink and Esper, conceived and developed by Coatsink but originally funded by Facebook, was the breakout success that gave Coatsink global recognition as a developer of Oculus. Esper was followed by Chip, Shu, Esper 2, A Night Sky and all the while, Coatsink’s reputation was growing as fast as its studio. Having moved out of its campus digs already, Coatsink was lured from Middlesbrough’s Boho Zone to become one of the earliest tenants at the landmark Sunderland Software Centre, where it now inhabits most of a floor. As Coatsink became more and more widely known for its work, it also became trusted for its ability to deliver. This has meant that the big players in the industry give Coatsink opportunities normally only available to much bigger studios. Coatsink has had the chance to work on some really interesting projects for rights holders including Hollywood studios as well as carrying out specialist contract work for some of the biggest names in the industry. Likewise, Coatsink is now frequently courted by independent developers, looking to capitalise on Coatsink’s expertise and credibility to co-develop and promote their own titles. Which in turn has led Coatsink into the acquisition of promising younger studios as well as working as co-developer alongside Boneloaf on their quite astonishingly successful title Gang Beasts. Coatsink has been a retainer client since 2014 and Matthew became their part-time General Counsel in 2016. The Coatsink team keep us so busy these days that at Coatsink’s last renewal, it opted for a 40-hour fair-use allowance, the biggest we’ve ever agreed with a client. And the way it’s going, we’d be surprised if we make it very far into the final quarter of the year with time still on the clock. As you’d imagine, most of the work we do is commercial in nature but every agreement is different. Joint ventures, publishing agreements, distribution contracts, funding agreements, development agreements. Sometimes we’re supplying services, sometimes procuring. Some are based on English law, many are based on American law or those of other countries (China, Japan, Australia). Each one is the subject of its own particular context, which we have to understand before we can start work. But although commercial work may form the biggest component of the work we do with Coatsink, we have also advised on property, employment, immigration, HR and IP. Their first acquisition, of fellow Teesside University graduate business Pixelbrawl Studio, was also our first acquisition, back in 2013. And when an angel investor offered to back one of Coatsink’s early projects, we had to draft a game finance agreement from scratch, since there was simply no precedent for it. It’s always satisfying to see a startup grow into a successful, established business even when, as was the case with Utilitywise for example, the scale of their growth means they need a more conventional firm to look after their interests. But to start with a couple of guys right at the outset and to keep working with them as they grow organically into a business that gives sustainable employment to more than 60 people and to see that business gain global recognition and work with some of the biggest names in tech and media. That’s really special.



What they said about us: How are *particular different?*particular are very approachable and amenable. Our relationship with Matthew and the team from day one was friendly and relaxed. What do you value most about *particular?We value how familiar *particular are with our business. We know they have our best interests at heart and have been with us throughout our growth. I can message Matthew at any point, and because of the excellent retainer model we work to, we don’t worry about money. We feel we can ask them anything. How have *particular helped your business?On almost every contract we work on, *particular point out the areas we haven’t considered. Matthew and his team are our general counsel. We gain an extra layer of confidence by having *particular available to look over matters for us. *particular in 4 Words?Friendly. Approachable. Amenable. Trustworthy.