Derry-based game development studio Hypixel Studios acquired by Riot Games

  • In the most significant deal that the Northern Ireland games industry has seen to date, Derry-based studio Hypixel Studios has been bought by games industry giant Riot Games.

    The past year has been fantastic for the Northern Ireland games industry, with Northern Ireland Screen's Pixel Mill game development accelerator taking off, Belfast-based studio Italic Pig signing a major publishing deal, and other local wins. Those achievements were dwarfed this week by the announcement that Derry-based studio Hypixel Studios has been officially acquired by industry giant Riot Games.

    Riot Games is known for its hugely successful global MOBA League of Legends, which took the esports scene by storm and now packs out stadiums each year for its world championship finals. Its upcoming first-person shooter Valorant is also expected to have a similar esports presence, with competitive tournaments eventually reaching millions of pounds in prize money.

    Hypixel Studios was founded in 2018 with support from Riot Games and other investors, and has now been officially bought by the company. The studio is currently developing an upcoming block-based exploration game called Hytale that combines the creative sandbox elements of global hit Minecraft with the gameplay depth of a roleplaying game. Hytale has already had over 2.5 million signups for its impending beta release and the trailer has been watched by millions of people around the world.

    As a result of the acquisition, Hypixel has announced plans to create its new headquarters in Derry and has begun a recruitment drive for a range of jobs. The project needs aministration and operations people, game developers, C# software engineers, Java software engineers, QA automation engineers, 3D artists, level designers, animators, and QA testers.

    Riot Games President Dylan Jadeja said: "We’ve known the team behind Hypixel Studios for several years, and from the start they’ve been the kind of visionaries that we aspire to support; a passionate studio committed to delivering a groundbreaking, genre-defining experience for players. [...] Now, as they prepare to enter the next chapter, we’re thrilled to take our partnership to the next level through this acquisition. We look forward to supporting Hypixel Studios’ journey through the development process, helping them grow, and learning from them as well.”

    Hypixel Studios' CEO Aaron ‘Noxy’ Donaghey commented on the acquisition: "We’ve been blown away by players’ response to Hytale, and Riot is the right partner to help us deliver a game that can live up to players’ expectations. Since our first meetings with Riot leadership long before their initial investment, we’ve found in Riot a partner with a similar commitment to empowering players. As development kicks into high gear, we’ll benefit from Riot’s resources, expertise, and experience while maintaining the operational independence that has enabled our success so far."

    Source: Riot Games, NI Screen

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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