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Codemasters to close Guildford studio

Wed 14 Sep 2011 10:30am GMT / 6:30am EDT / 3:30am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

66 staff begin consultation phase as publisher withdraws from action and strategy genres

Codemasters

Taken from MobyGames.com:

Codemasters develops and publishes video games for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft...

codemasters.com

Staff at Codemasters Guildford were called to a company meeting at 11am today, where they were told the company was proposing to close down its Guildford operations.

A source told GamesIndustry.biz that Guildford staff were asked to return from holidays to attend the meeting, and many began to receive emails from a recruitment company early this morning.

"The company is proposing to retire from its facility in Guildford, most recently responsible for the shooter Bodycount," confirmed the company in an official statement.

"If progressed, the move will affect 66 Guildford studio personnel; staff are now involved in a consultation period to discuss the proposal."

The company intends to close down its action and strategy teams, and instead focus on its more successful racing brands like Dirt and F1 at its Southam and Birmingham studios. Birmingham will grow to include a second team to work on a new racing IP, opening up new job opportunities.

"In the event that staff working within the Guildford site are affected by the current proposals, they will be encouraged to apply for suitable positions on campus and in the Birmingham studio."

Codemasters Guildford's most recent project Bodycount was poorly received, achieving only a handful of sales and entering the UK chart last week at number 36. It also worked on the Operation Flashpoint series.

Last year the Guildford studio lost Bodycount creative director Stuart Black, quickly followed by general manager Adrian Bolton.

The full statement from Codemasters follows:

"Codemasters' future product development strategy will see additional studio resource invested to extend its world-class racing portfolio. The company is increasing the size of existing development teams at its on-campus studios in Warwickshire (DiRT, GRID, F1 Online, Central Technology/EGO) while forming a further team to work alongside the F1 2011 team at its Birmingham studio on a new racing title.

In line with the strategy, the company is proposing to retire from its facility in Guildford, most recently responsible for the shooter Bodycount. If progressed, the move will affect 66 Guildford studio personnel; staff are now involved in a consultation period to discuss the proposal.

As Codemasters looks to take greater leadership in the racing category, the company is proposing a studio structure that adds resource and strengthens our best-in-class racing teams. The output from the studios on the Warwickshire campus and in Birmingham is on the increase with multiple continuing game series, brand extensions and new racing IPs in production. Both the Warwickshire and Birmingham studios have won BAFTAs for their critically acclaimed, multi-million selling titles and the company is adding resource to ensure they constantly over achieve in this competitive sector.

Codemasters envisages that it will continue to have a number of open positions within the Racing and Online studio teams at Codemasters' campus in Warwickshire working on Dirt, Grid, F1 Online and with the F1 team in Birmingham, which is being expanded to house a full second team working on a new racing IP. In the event that staff working within the Guildford site are affected by the current proposals, they will be encouraged to apply for suitable positions on campus and in the Birmingham studio."

15 Comments

Ben Furneaux Designer, Turbulenz Limited

116 55 0.5

Edited 1 times. Last edit by a moderator on 14th September 2011 12:56pm

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Good luck to those involved. Sad, but like Ben said, probably not completely unexpected.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by a moderator on 14th September 2011 12:56pm

Posted:3 years ago

#2
I think the action and strategy market is tiered into the super AAA and the AA lite, and the amount of effort required to translate a good IP into a profitable one can far outweigh the cost of developing a casual/social or racing title.

Thus, perhaps a alternative is to make B grade games using decent middleware and focus on developing enjoyable, lower costing games that are profitable?

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts

199 56 0.3
Good Luck to all affected all the other studios in Guidlford appear to be hiring so hopefully all will be able to find a new home!

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
This is a shame, but I concur not entirely unexpected. I haven't played Bodycount, as I found the demo very disappointing; particularly so as I was hoping for an unofficial successor to Black. As Chee and I had in a similar discussion a week or so back, I think the AAA shooter market is a tough nut to crack if you don't have both a massive development budget and (perhaps more importantly) a massive marketing budget, and I think more developers and publishers should take a serious look at the downloadable sector as a means to get their product to market.

Posted:3 years ago

#5
Alternatively, develop and market from poland and Russia for AA lite products :)

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Alex Wright-Manning Talent Acquisition Manager, The Creative Assembly

172 2 0.0
Awful news, but I think a lot of people - as evidenced here - saw it coming. Fortunately given the strength of the Guildford development community, I can see most of the guys and gals affected finding themselves something pretty quickly, and I do sincerely hope that Codies can keep hold of the majority of the team as there are some great projects in development at the other studios in the group. Good luck all.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Luke Salvoni Co-Founder & iOS Developer, Officially Made Ltd

65 4 0.1
Very sad to hear this news - I was in Guildford only a handful of months ago and know a number of those affected; best of luck to you all.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

257 562 2.2
Shame, it looks like large UK AAA developers are becoming an endangered species. Good luck to all those involved.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 14th September 2011 4:34pm

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games

363 207 0.6
why not do iphone games? what is wrong with it?
It is a hugely creative and prosperous market! Still a great option for talented groups of developers with fresh ideas!! i can't really think of many game ideas that cannot be realised on ipad for instance... iOS is going to take over the next years and those who have established their place in this market are going to benefit greatly from it. i expect only 1-2 years left until iOS is taken over by the known giants. it was a window for small developers that is now closing.

Tax breaks are necessary, but making awesome games is equally important. I had not even heard of this game... It's always sad to hear about studio closures... Good luck to those who lost their job. I hope they find a place to the other studios of CM that are expanding.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 15th September 2011 2:21am

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

820 653 0.8
Best wishes for them. Also wonder if this is a signal about how oversaturated is the FPS market.

Nonetheless, hope everyone affected will find a new good place to continue their career.

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
I suspect, given the amount of roles Codies have up in the midlands, many of them - especially those not tied to the area - will get offers up there. I hope so, anyway.

Closures are always tough, but people always land on their feet, eventually anyway. The kids TV animation studio my wife worked at shut down over a year ago now - but although if was tough for people at the time, I don't think many of them would choose to go back there over what they're doing now. Onwards and upwards, and one way or another you guys will be absolutely fine.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Adam Clixby Technical director & co-founder, Rodeo Games

5 1 0.2
Offers in the midlands probably won't be of much comfort, but thankfully there are many other studios within walking distance of Codies Guildford. I imagine the talented guys won't have too much trouble finding new work.

Posted:3 years ago

#13
Or starting up a bunch of new outfits!

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
@Yiannis
Well if there's money to be made and you're into that kind of thing, sure, it makes sense. Personally I find it depressing to see AAA companies being replaced with iphone developers because I've yet to play a decent iphone game. To me iphone games will always be at best, a mindless distraction while on a train as opposed to a AAA title to look forward to and sink hours into.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

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