Boss of reborn Sheffield games company reveals pain of administration

The boss of a reborn Sheffield games company has opened up about going bust, describing it as: “the most emotional, painful, soul-crushing and embarrassing experience of my career.”

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 3:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:46 pm
Tim Cooper, founder of Peek & Poke.

Tim Cooper put Team Cooper into administration in 2014, making all staff redundant including his wife Emma.

The firm, which employed eight, plus freelancers, was sunk by the demise of a technology called Flash which it used to power the games it made for firms to market themselves, or ‘advergames’.

He struck a deal with administrators to keep the name and built the company back up using the latest technology.

Today it is based at Sum Studios, Hartley Street, Heeley, and has just announced a change of name to Peek & Poke.

Tim said of the administration: “It was the most emotional, painful, soul-crushing and embarrassing experience of my career.

“The worst part being that I had to make the whole team redundant knowing it was all my own stupid fault. Em and I found ourselves with two kids to feed and a mortgage to pay with no business, no jobs and a huge pile of debt.

“As it happened there was still work for clients to be done, and as tough as it had been for us, I didn’t want to let them down as well.”

Today, Peek & Poke is a ‘white label’ company which makes unbranded games that can be sold to more than one client.

“Brands want games, and they can’t spend the earth. But it’s a big ask trying to build something bespoke, that’s actually good, on a limited budget.

“This is partly why ‘advergames’ sometimes have a bad rep. I don’t believe any game developer worth their salt intends to make a bad game, they just ran out of budget on the way to a good one.

“Instead of building bespoke games for clients, we’ve transitioned to providing a white label game service.

“It’s meant that we can provide games to clients at a budget that suits them, while making sense business-wise for us.

“It also means we’ve been able to continuously refine and improve the games that we have, making them better to play but also making them work harder as a marketing tool. They’re games we’re proud of.

“Each of those games have been specifically designed for re-branding with marketing campaigns in mind. They each represent hundreds of hours’ worth of design and development time. I’m really proud of the service we’ve built to date.”