Annual Report and Accounts 2021

Creating. Nurturing. Growing.

Creating. Nurturing. Growing.

Frontier is a leading independent developer and publisher of videogames founded in 1994 by David Braben, co-author of the iconic Elite game.

Based in Cambridge with a growing team of over 680 talented people, Frontier uses its proprietary COBRA game development technology to create innovative genre-leading games, primarily for personal computers and videogame consoles. As well as self-publishing internally developed games, Frontier also publishes games developed by carefully selected partner studios under its Frontier Foundry games label.

Highlights & KPIs

Strategic Highlights

  • Frontier’s launch and nurture portfolio strategy continues to deliver
    • Frontier plays to its strengths by creating deep, immersive and high fidelity games that build on its proven capabilities and unique track record
    • Post-launch, Frontier nurtures its games for many years through community engagement and additional content
    • FY21 saw the announcement and release of Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, our most ambitious expansion yet for our iconic space simulation franchise
    • Planet Coaster expanded its audience through its release on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
    • Jurassic World Evolution accelerated the growth of its player base by launching on Nintendo Switch
    • Planet Zoo continued to delight existing fans and attract new players, supported by a range of popular PDLC packs
    • All four games continued to deliver strong sales on existing platforms
  • Frontier Foundry builds momentum
    • First revenue in Frontier Foundry in FY21, our games label for third‑party publishing
    • Six titles signed for future release, with at least three in FY22, including: Lemnis Gate; FAR: Changing Tides and Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters
    • Set for future success as a material part of our business, with a target of at least four titles expected to launch per year from FY23 onwards
  • Our strongest ever future roadmap
    • Jurassic World Evolution 2 revealed for release on 9 November 2021 (in FY22) – a much-anticipated sequel which builds upon our ground‑breaking and immersive 2018 management simulation
    • The first of our annual Formula 1® management games will release during the 2022 F1 season, as part of our exclusive licence for Formula 1® management games
    • Our Warhammer Age of Sigmar IP real-time strategy game, licenced from Games Workshop, will launch in FY23

Financial Highlights

  • Our established portfolio of genre-leading games, supported by our nurturing approach to post-release development, delivered record financial results in FY21, through continued strong engagement with our games and our downloadable content on new and existing platforms
  • Record revenue of £90.7 million (FY20: £76.1 million) reflected substantial contributions from all four of our existing games franchises, together with our first revenues from Frontier Foundry, our games label for third‑party publishing
  • Strong trading performance and effective portfolio management delivered record operating profit, as reported under IFRS, of £19.9 million for FY21 (FY20: £16.6 million), with operating profit margin maintained at 22%, matching the performance achieved in both FY20 and FY19
  • Cash balances of £42.4 million at 31 May 2021 (31 May 2020: £45.8 million) even after investment of £14.0 million during the year in Frontier and Frontier Foundry games planned for release in future periods
  • Full financial review on pages 38 to 41

Revenue (£m)

£90.7m

Operating Profit (£m)

£19.9m

Operating margin (£m)

22%

EBITDA* (£m)

£38.1m

EPS (basic) (p)

55.4p

Operating cashflow** (£m)

£12.2m

Net cash balance (£m)

£42.4m
* Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. ** EBITDA excluding non-cash items less investments in game developments and game technology.

Statements

Our 'Launch & Nurture' strategy continues to deliver.

Delivering record financial results in FY21 is a testament to the strength of our portfolio of game franchises which is a product of the talent and hard work of our great team of people. I’d like to thank everyone at Frontier for their dedication and teamwork; supporting our games, our players and each other through the challenges of 2020 and 2021.

David Gammon
Non-executive Chairman
PDF icon Chairmans-Statement-2021.pdf (2.08 MB) (2.08 MB)
I am really excited about our roadmap of future releases.

The games industry has always experienced, and driven, significant change, adaptation and evolution over its many decades within the wider entertainment industry. I believe it’s that long experience and expectation of change that has allowed the games industry to deal positively with the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, that has created so much disruption and change to the world in the last 18 months.

David Braben
Founder & CEO
We look to the future with confidence.

Our existing portfolio of games, supported by new content and new platforms for those games through our nurturing post-release model, delivered record financial results in FY21 with revenue of £90.7 million (FY20: £76.1 million) and operating profit of £19.9 million (FY20: £16.6 million). The fact that we delivered record numbers without releasing a major new game demonstrates the success of our “Launch and Nurture” model. As ever our financial performance reflects the hard work of our talented people who continue to support our global game communities. We look to the future with confidence based on our growing team, our great portfolio, our exciting roadmap and our strong financials.

Alex Bevis
CFO & Company Secretary

Annual Report and Accounts 2021 – Key Sections

Our released titles

ELITE DANGEROUS – available for Windows PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 – is the definitive massively multiplayer space epic, bringing gaming’s original open world adventure to the modern generation with a connected galaxy, evolving narrative and the entirety of the Milky Way uniquely created by Frontier at its full galactic proportions. Our ambitious expansion, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, landed on PC in May 2021, marking the birth of a highly anticipated new era for the long-running definitive space simulation, allowing players to touch down on countless new planets powered by stunning new tech, see breath‑taking new scenery, engage in first-person combat and explore with unrestricted freedom from a feet-on-the-ground perspective.

PLANET COASTER – available for Windows PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 – builds on Frontier’s genre-defining expertise with coaster park games such as RollerCoaster Tycoon® 3 and Thrillville. It further raises the bar for this popular genre, allowing players to create the theme park of their dreams as they surprise, delight and thrill incredulous crowds, and share their success with the world via the Steam Workshop community. Originally launching on PC only in November 2016, we expanded the Planet Coaster community even further in November 2020 with the release of Planet Coaster: Console Edition for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION – available for Windows PC, Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 – evolves players’ relationships with the Jurassic World film franchise, placing them in control of operations on the legendary island of Isla Nublar and the surrounding islands of the Muertes Archipelago. Players create and manage their own Jurassic World as they bioengineer new dinosaur breeds, construct attractions and containment and research facilities. Every choice leads to a different path and spectacular challenges arise when ‘life finds a way.’ Frontier’s world-class team further expanded the Jurassic World Evolution player community with its release on Nintendo Switch in November 2020.

PLANET ZOO – available for Windows PC – is the ultimate zoo sim, featuring authentic living animals who think, feel and explore the world players create around them. Planet Zoo allows players to experience a globe-trotting campaign or let their imagination run wild in the freedom of Sandbox mode, create unique habitats and vast landscapes, make big decisions and meaningful choices, and nurture their animals as they construct and manage a truly modern zoo where animal welfare and conservation comes first. We continue to provide our players with the opportunity to expand their zoos with regular new content.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Our business model and strategy

INVEST

We invest our development resources in games with strong franchise potential, primarily on PC and console. In order to maximise the return on our core skills and assets we target game genres where we have established expertise and/or intellectual property within our teams. Audiences on the chosen platforms tend to value games that exhibit Frontier’s key development strengths.

DEVELOP

We use online channels to create and engage with player communities during game development, a practice which provides a valuable source of feedback, and these player communities provide excellent advocacy for each franchise prior to launch.

PUBLISH

With each of our franchises, we plan for the long term, and how best to support and sustain the audience for each one. A dedicated team monitors progress based on sentiment towards the games, the success of each of the distribution channels and platforms, and the uptake of additional content both free and paid, allowing us to reach the widest possible audience over time.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Our people

Frontier employs amazing people who are instrumental in making games that define genres, break boundaries and sell millions of copies to gamers around the world. We share a vision of developing, launching and nurturing world-class games that put both Frontier and the games industry itself at the forefront of the global entertainment industry.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Our impact

Since the founding of the company in 1994, Frontier has endeavoured to conduct business in a considerate, responsible and ethical manner. To do this, we have placed our key stakeholders – our people, our players, our partners and our investors – at the core of everything we do. We aim to be a leader in our industry for creating games which in themselves, and through the process of creating and nurturing them, resonate with the key environmental, social and governance (‘ESG’) principles of our stakeholders, as well as society as a whole.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Managing our risks

The global pandemic has changed our business, as it has done for so many companies. The biggest change has been the enforced period of remote working for the majority of our workforce. Collaboration is a very important element of our success in developing sophisticated and engaging games and content, and so the extended lack of opportunities for teams to work together in the same physical space has been a challenge. On the other hand, task-based work can be very efficient at home as it can often be a less distracting place to work compared to a busy office environment. In our view it’s not appropriate to simply add a ‘pandemic risk’ to the risk register which is regularly reviewed by the Board. Instead we have considered the resulting impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the various risk items within our register – for example the increased risks of lower levels of engagement through reduced physical team interaction, leading to inefficiencies, underperformance and/or retention issues.

While coronavirus has created a lot of change in the last 18 months, we are well placed as a company which is used to reacting to and creating change, to deal with those challenges. Our industry is used to regular and significant changes in terms of business model, competition and technology.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

The Odyssey has begun

Elite Dangerous is now in its eighth financial year since release on PC in December 2014, coming to Xbox One in 2015 and PlayStation 4 in 2017. Since first release we have continued to support Elite Dangerous and our Commanders with updates, free content, major expansions and personalisation opportunities.

In May 2021 we released our most ambitious expansion to date, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, on PC. Odyssey marks the birth of a highly anticipated new era for our long-running definitive space simulation, allowing players to touch down on countless new planets powered by stunning new tech, see breath-taking new scenery, engage in first-person combat and explore with unrestricted freedom from a feet-on-the-ground perspective.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Evolving coaster park simulation

Planet Coaster was successfully launched in November 2016 after a short beta period, achieving the global #1 position on the Steam distribution channel and continuing to sell strongly through the subsequent holiday period. In accordance with our strategy, we began to release free updates, each of which adds headline features but also expands and improves different creative and management aspects of the game.

Planet Coaster expanded its audience in November 2020 through its arrival on console, launching simultaneously on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Our team did an amazing job in bringing the creativity of Planet Coaster to console audiences, including the delivery of Frontier Workshop – a brand new tool which allows our console players to share content.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
Planet Coaster

Build Your Own Jurassic World

Jurassic World Evolution, our first self-published licensed title, launched on 12 June 2018, at the start of FY19. It was our first self-published title (although not our first game) to debut simultaneously on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the first to benefit from a major marketing event by launching alongside the latest film in the franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, at the start of the biggest games industry show of the year – the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Jurassic World Evolution is Frontier’s biggest selling game to date by revenue, passing 3 million base game units sold in March 2020. Following its significant success on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Frontier’s world-class team further expanded the Jurassic World Evolution player community with its release on Nintendo Switch in November 2020 through the release of Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
Jurassic World Evolution

Simulation Runs Wild

Frontier’s fourth self-published title, Planet Zoo, launched exclusively for PC on 5 November 2019. Planet Zoo rapidly established itself as the ultimate zoo simulation, becoming Frontier’s biggest selling PC game during an equivalent time period from release, crossing 1 million units in less than six months.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
Planet Zoo

A World Evolved

Unveiled in June 2021, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to the highly successful Jurassic World Evolution, which builds upon the groundbreaking and beloved 2018 dinosaur park management simulation, offering players a thrilling front seat as they take charge of their own Jurassic World park.

With a brand-new immersive narrative campaign voiced by cast members from across the Jurassic World film franchise, exciting new features, four engaging game modes, and an enhanced and expanded roster of dinosaurs, Jurassic World Evolution 2 provides fans with everything they need to create authentic and compelling Jurassic World experiences.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 will release on 9 November 2021 on PC, PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
Jurassic World Evolution 2

A proven track record

In March 2020 we announced a multi-year exclusive licence (the ‘Licence’) with Formula One Management to develop and publish PC and console management games annually for the FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ (‘F1’), the world’s most prestigious motor racing competition.

Under the terms of the Licence, Frontier has exclusive rights to develop and publish F1 management games worldwide for PC and console platforms, together with the rights for streaming services, with the first game expected to release for the 2022 F1 season. The Licence provides Frontier with the rights for four F1 seasons (2022 to 2025 inclusive), subject to the achievement of certain financial performance thresholds.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
F1

A whole new universe

In May 2020 Frontier announced an exclusive IP licence (the “Licence”) with Games Workshop to develop and publish a real-time strategy game within the rich and extensive world of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar is Games Workshop’s most recent iteration of the globally renowned fantasy setting in which the four Grand Alliances of Order, Chaos, Death and Destruction vie for control of the Mortal Realms. Unique and distinct in style, and endless in scope, this ever growing universe sits alongside the far future dystopia of Warhammer 40,000 as the most successful tabletop miniatures games in the world.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1
Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Our games label for third-party publishing

Frontier Foundry’s mission is simple: expand the Company’s excellent game portfolio by partnering with exciting developers. With our heritage as a developer, combined with our wealth of publishing experience, Frontier is perfectly placed to offer third-party studios expertise and guidance throughout the development cycle, delivering the vision its creators intended.

Frontier Foundry successfully released two games in FY21 and we have six titles signed for future release, with at least three planned for FY22. Over the next few years we plan to establish Frontier Foundry as a significant business, generating a material proportion of Frontier’s revenue and profit. Our initial target is to achieve at least four releases per year from FY23 onwards, helping to expand the overall Company’s portfolio into new genres and platforms.

PDF icon Strategic-Report-2021.pdf (12.44 MB)81Spa111dF1

Annual Report and Accounts 2021

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