Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 14.09.17SUNDERLAND business Coconut Lizard is hoping to get ahead of the game, after a number of contract wins sees its team expanding.

The game development business, set up by former Epic Games UK general manager Robert Troughton, has added to its number with two new appointments, and has plans to grow its number to between 15 and 20 by the end of this year.  Coconut Lizard was formed in September 2015, and counts US-based Boss Key Productions among its clients, which sees it work on projects including new AAA game, Law Breakers.

Robert Troughton, who was managing director of Pitbull Studio which was bought out by Epic Games in 2014, said that the two new appointments – Terence Burns and Joe Tidmarsh as senior programmers – will help strengthen the company’s position in the market.

Robert said: “I’ve worked with Terry and Joe for many years now.  Both joined Pitbull Studio in the early days, working on Unreal Engine and associated projects, then became part of the Epic Games team following our acquisition.

“They were very important to that transition happening and, so, it’s a fantastic win for Coconut Lizard that they’ve joined the team here.  By choosing the very best developers to join us at Coconut Lizard, we really are creating a dream team that can be deployed to a project to help bring it to market at a fantastically polished standard.”

Troughton has a strong track record in the gaming industry, having grown Pitbull Studio from a team of five to more than 40.

Robert said: “I have similar ambitions for Coconut Lizard – rapid expansion.  And a key factor in that will be having the most skilled and experienced industry professionals who deliver exceptional work for their clients.”

Being based in Sunderland – at the heart of the North East – is something Robert believes will help that process.

He said: “Sunderland is very well placed, at the heart of a region that is building a strong reputation in the game development sector.  There’s a fantastic talent pool in the North East, and – being based between the North and South of the region – means we have access to that whole talent pool.

“We want to be in the top one per cent of the industry – the best out there.  And Terence and Joe’s appointments are the first steps to get us there.”

The company is based in the Evolve Business Centre at Rainton Bridge.  It has been supported by Sunderland City Council’s Business Investment Team with its move into the building and is one of a growing number of creative software businesses to be based in the city.

Gary Hutchinson, chair of the Sunderland Business Group – a collective of businesses in the city that is working to showcase the city as a great place to live, work, study and do business – said that Coconut Lizard was a great addition to the business community in the city.

He said: “Games development and the more creative end of software and technology is a real national growth area and we are building a reputation in Sunderland as a place where businesses in this field can prosper.

“Sunderland is home to an increasingly varied and vibrant business community and we’re delighted to see Coconut Lizard gearing up for growth, and creating new, high-value jobs.”

Sunderland Business Group is a membership organisation set up to further the growth of the Sunderland economy.  For more information, contact Ashmore Consulting on 0191 500 8585 or email mark.hodgson@ashmoreconsulting.co.uk.