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A million downloads for video game from Wales Interactive

Maid of Sker

Produced by Pencoed-based Wales Interactive, Maid of Sker is a survival horror game inspired by Welsh folklore, and set in a remote hotel. The game’s atmosphere is enhanced by the re-imagining of famous Welsh songs Calon Lân (A Pure Heart), Suo-Gân (Welsh Lullaby) and Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night) from the spine-chilling voice of Welsh artist Tia Kalmaru. The game picked up the Heritage award at last year’s prestigious TIGA games industry ‘Oscars’.

Co-founder with Dr. David Banner MBE, Director Richard Pring said: “Maid of Sker was critically well received when it was launched last summer, and now it’s becoming a great commercial success with a million downloads to date. It’s a real ‘made in Wales’ story, with a strong Welsh narrative, and was produced in our studio in Pencoed – in fact some of our team even worked on it from home when lockdown was imposed.”

The title originates from a Welsh ballad, The Maid of Sker and a novel of the same name was written by Lorna Doone author R. D. Blackmore who was familiar with Sker House near Porthcawl. Set in 1898, and inspired by the haunting Welsh tale of Elisabeth Williams, the video game follows a family empire driven by torture, slavery, piracy and a supernatural mystery that suffocates the grounds of the hotel.

Last year, fan site Rely On Horror said: “Maid of Sker is easily one of my top horror games this year so far, even standing its own against the AAA horror giants like Resident Evil 3” 9/10.”

And despite the pandemic, last year proved to be exceptionally busy for the Wales Interactive team. In 2020 they launched three titles, supplementing Maid of Sker with The Complex and Five Dates as the games industry experienced huge demand during lockdown. All of these have received great critical acclaim and achieved commercial success, helping the company reach over four million downloads and more than 50 million global views to date for their collective portfolio of 20 titles over eight years. 

As testament to the company’s craft and versatility, The Complex is an interactive sci-fi thriller movie where decisions lead to one of eight suspenseful endings, winning two awards for Special Effects, and Best Sound & Visual Effects at the British Film Festival Awards. Five Dates is an interactive rom-com about the unpredictable world of digital dating, starring Mandip Gill (Doctor Who), and Georgia Hirst (Vikings), with the voice of Sinéad Harnett.

Wales Interactive have benefitted from Welsh Government sector support over the years, through the Digital Development Fund and on trade missions to San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference. Maid of Sker received significant Creative Europe video games development funding from the Creative Europe Desk UK Wales, part of Creative Wales.

Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director for Creative Wales said: “Wales Interactive is a terrific example of a commercially successful Welsh company with the talent and ambition to become one of the best games companies in the world. The Maid of Sker has taken the Welsh language and culture to a new global audience through the medium of video games, a community that has seen massive expansion during the pandemic.”