Setting up a company in Guernsey
Granite Games is a small outfit, made up of just two people: Jason Magee and Marc Beavan. We both have real jobs and develop games whenever we are not working (and when our families allow us to shut ourselves away in our geeky man caves). We have a history of developing games from childhood through to current day. Having worked together on a handful of projects we both agreed to take our at times unhealthy obsession to the next step and release some titles together and see where it takes us. We aim to document our foray into indie game development and to be as transparent as possible. This blog article documents our first big step of the journey - setting up a company (in Guernsey).
We have a couple of titles that are almost games - spit and polish by the bathtub-full is required, but a beta version is within sight. Before releasing anything we wanted to ensure that we would do so under a name, this with the aim of growing a brand and hopefully some followers/fans.
What’s in a name?
What is rapidly becoming a common theme is coming up with names that aren’t rubbish! We have a few games in the pipeline and the one we are currently working on is called ‘Top Down Puzzler’ as we are incapable of coming up with anything better. Fortunately we think we have fared better on the company name front. Granite Games immediately resonated with both of us as it retains a connection to the small lump of granite that we live on (Guernsey).
Once we had a name, the next few steps were to…
- Grab the domain name GraniteGames.gg
- Create the website (we used Hugo which is awesome)
- Create a logo - this was done by one of our most excellent and talented friends - cheers G.
- Register with the online stores (Google play in progress, itch.io, Apple in progress)
- Set up a company
Surely it’s just a case of filling in some details, hitting next, next finish. Right?
Setting up a company is not the simple 5 minute online form submission that it is in other places (like the UK), so we went to the very friendly John Merrien of Books & Company to seek advice and guidance on what our options were and what we needed to do next.
We had two options available to us:
- An informal sole trader
- A real company (legally recognised)
Option 1 would see us forming an informal partnership (not legally recognised). We would not be able to sign up with the likes of Apple or Google using Granite Games as any contract between them and Granite Games would not be legally binding. Being able to release games as Granite Games was important to us and we felt it would have more credibility than as individuals. It was primarily for this reason that we decided to set up a company.
So it was a no brainer right?
Well, unfortunately one of the downsides of living in Guernsey is that it is geared up for the finance industry and as such is highly regulated. Unlike the UK we couldn’t sign up online, hit next, next, finish and pay the £12 fee and become up and running. In Guernsey you have to go through an accredited Corporate Service Provider (CSP) which ensures that a number of due diligence checks are carried out on the purpose of the business and that the company directors are suitable (no prior convictions for fraud and the like). The CSP document all of this and ensure that the relevant documents (Memorandum of Incorporation, Articles of Incorporation, Share Register, Board minutes for the Inaugural bored meeting) are prepared for the submission to the Guernsey Registry.
Unsurprisingly all of this costs money.
- A £100 incorporation fee to add the new company and register its directors to the registry database.
- Another £20 fee to opt out of filing an annual AGM and audit (I’m sure filing this request incurs a massive cost to the registry and the £20 is a bargain)
- £300 incorporation fee taken by the CSP
- £80 background checks for the two directors
- Around £350 relates to fees and charges taken by the Books and Co for sorting everything out
John also made sure that we were aware that there were a number of annual costs that will need to be paid, irrespective of whether the company has made a single penny or not.
- The most annoying of the recurring costs is a rather annoying £250 Guernsey Registry tax. They call it an Annual Validation fee, but it is really just a stealth tax and really doesn’t help small business get off the ground. You have to acknowledge that the company is still alive (an online form submission) and pay £250 fee. Mercenaries.
- Preparation of the company accounts - this is currently unknown as we are yet to complete our first year, but we anticipate that this will cost between £500 and £1000 for the first year or two where the number of transactions will probably sit comfortably within a single page of an excel document!
Granite Games Limited
So, as of March Granite Games Limited became a thing, a legally recognised thing.
I suppose we had better get on with making some games!