International publisher SEGA considers its two UK studios the best in the business, with both teams outperforming their targets financially as well as creating world class products.
In a development environment scarred by high-profile closures from Scotland to the south coast, the studios producing Football Manager and Total War franchises stand strong - last week MP Ed Vaizey praised The Creative Assembly as "geniuses at work" as he opened a new 10,000 square foot studio.
"Our UK internal studios are probably the bedrock of our business," Gary Dunn, SEGA Europe VP of production told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview published today.
The Creative Assembly is seen as the jewel in the crown of SEGA
Mike Hayes, US and European president
"For the second year both Sports Interactive and Creative Assembly are outperforming their business plans from a profitability perspective. These guys are on top of the game, it's a real testimony to the games they make."
SEGA Europe and US president Mike Hayes agreed, noting that The Creative Assembly's skills is in creating brands that reach and sell outside of the UK.
"It's interesting: Creative Assembly are seen as the jewel in the crown of SEGA. That's an interesting thing, I don't think that would have been a thought about that fifteen years ago - but probably Creative Assembly has the consistent highest quality in terms of gaming for any studio, so SEGA's very proud of both.
"But we have a spread - let's not underestimate what Sonic does for us, and what we've done with Mario and Sonic. Those are the behemoth titles that have done very well for us. But at the end of the day, regardless of where you are it's the fact that you have to have an internationally appealing game and brand.
"I think SEGA's fortunate that we've got two excellent UK studios, but the point is the majority of sales, particularly for the Creative Assembly, really have to be outside of the UK. So it needs to have an international appeal - certainly with Total War we get that. I think we're in very, very good shape, actually."
As the UK development scene continues to suffer from high profile closures and redundancies, Hayes remains cautious of the working environment but is confident that the appeal of brands - The Creative Assembly has just announced a new Aliens title - can help lessen some of the risk associated with high-cost development in the region.
"I would never, ever be foolish enough to say it's absolutely ring-fenced and perfect - you can't say that in our industry - but the brands that we have are international brands, they seem to be evergreen and I think working on the Alien license with what we have from a creativity point of view gives you a pretty good chance that you're going to have a commercial success with the project," he said.
"It's never a cast iron guarantee. So do we feel extremely optimistic about our two UK studios? We absolutely do, no doubt about it."
The full interview with Mike Hayes, Gary Dunn and The Creative Assembly studio head Tim Heaton, can be read here.