Cousens: Competitors shouldn't have dismissed F1 license

Publishers "knocking on Bernie Ecclestone's door, trying to take the license away from us"; browser F1 game in the works

Codemasters' CEO Rod Cousens has said he believes the company doesn't get enough credit when it produces a hit such as F1 2010 - a licence that rival publishers initially dismissed but are now circling Formula One Management in a bid to snatch the rights to.

Speaking in a interview published today, Cousens said that rumours of the company's health still dog the business, despite a significant financial investment from Reliance, which now owns 50 per cent of the publisher.

"Where it's particularly galling is where you come off of the back of a 2 million-seller that's F1 2010 that any other software house in the world, regardless of size, would like to have in their portfolio... a number of whom had that opportunity and dismissed it," said Cousens.

"And that's just in the first month as well - and we all know that as a sport, Formula One's roots are within Europe and Asia, and yet the largest single market in the world is the US. So that 2 million units has been achieved largely without the United States... and if you translated that up on a pro rata basis that's the equivalent of a 4 million-seller.

"I challenge anyone that wouldn't want that. I'm sure they're all knocking on Bernie Ecclestone's door, trying to take the license away from us."

As well as an annual update in 2011, Cousens also revealed that the company is working on a browser-based F1 game as it looks to expand to new markets. And the publisher's 20-year track record of making driving games is more significant to making the F1 license work than the amount of money a publisher could throw at it.

"What we don't do as an industry is give enough credit, and it's very easy to knock. We're not complacent as a company, but we're difficult to beat in racing - and someone should give us credit for that.

"In the same way that I believe Electronic Arts with FIFA have done a tremendous job - that's come about because they've got 20-plus years invested in development; it's come about with Codemasters and racing because we've got 20-plus years of development. It's not the last two years that we've put into F1 2010 - the game has had the benefit of the expertise, the technology, the DNA that is Codemasters in racing.

"For someone to think they can simply come along and try and entice that away with a cheque is unrealistic," he added.

Acknowledging there were some issues with the initial release of the game, Cousens pointed to other new racing titles released this year from the likes of Activision and Disney that haven't hit similar highs.

"We believe we've got racing - now, if I'm some of my competition and I've looked at the performance of Blur and Split/Second, I'd rather have my problems," he said.

The full interview with Cousens, in which he talks about the health of the company, developing the Operation Flashpoint franchise and more, can be read here.

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Latest comments (15)

Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.10 years ago
Couldn't agree more. I think Codemasters have done a brilliant Job on it - not only from a development point of view, but from a marketing point of view too. Despite launching near the end of the season, they've done everything right from a product point of view and I hope they continue with the license and making even better in the future. Clearly a very talented team and a great desire for quality. I think that although F1 really isn't massive in the States, they can certainly find new opportunities elsewhere in the world....thinking specifically about the new markets for F1 in India next year, when they will be hosting their first race and then going forward Russia too. I know not everyone in those countries will be buying PS3/360's in massive volumes, but game like this, with true global appeal, should help grow the markets in those regions.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Burcombe on 15th November 2010 11:39am

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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D10 years ago
What Nick said:)
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Michael Armer Studying Games Development National Diploma Level 3, Lancaster and Morecambe College10 years ago
he is right but some of the problems with f1 2010 are fairly major to people like me who follow f1 all the time. like the ability to see the whole grid order at any time or how far way people are in the race and if they have pitted or not. great racing game don't get me wrong but they should have put much more effort into the menu's and H.U.D. the style they used is fine for games like dirt and grid but not for f1 so i hope they will change this with dlc if they can
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Show all comments (15)
Armando Marini Product Development, Big Viking Games10 years ago
It just proves once again that a quality game makes a difference. The F1 titles of the past were awful games and made the buyer feel like a fool for purchasing them. The titles didn't fail because of the F1 license, they failed because of the poor quality. Its amazing how this obvious fact is lost to so many.
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Howard Parry10 years ago
Armando, there were quite a few decent F1 games of past - F1 98 on the PS, F1 world Grand Prix on the N64... and who can forget Geoff Crammond's legendary Grand Prix series?
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Pierre Vandenbroucke Assistant de production, Gorgone Productions10 years ago
I must agree with John and Howard, especially as I was fond of F1GP2 for many years (until something like 2002 I think!) but I think one of the last very good F1 game i Monaco RS, which actually did not have the F1 licence..
And even considering those games, the last 5 years were a F1 desert, don't you think?

One last thing, I'm not very comfortable about the Blur/split second comparison, those 2 titles and F1 2010 aimed at very different audiences.
Arcade addicts vs simulation maniacs. Also they were released at the same time (direct confrontation) a few months ago (different schedule, I 'm sure the last 4 or 5 epic GP of the season gave a boost in sales to F1 2010) It seems a great game, keep up the good work coies, but there are a couple of titles upper in my shopping list right now. maybe in a couple of months. :-D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pierre Vandenbroucke on 15th November 2010 3:51pm

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Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.10 years ago
@Armando - Ouch! We did our best on a new platform (PS3) with F1CE ;) (I used to work at Sony for the last two F1 games). For Codemasters, starting out with the nicely matured Ego engine is a great leg up for the F1 franchise, but...of course it still took two years to put the next generation version out there - well worth the investment though. The foundation of their technology should mean that they can put something out earlier next year to equally good quality, have a longer selling period and still address all the foibles and demands of the F1 community (@Armer, you should join the community forums at Codemasters and get your ideas talked about - I agree that the demands of the HUD are an exceptionally interesting challenge for the designers on F1 - everyone wants different data. I think completely customisable HUD based on a series of widgets is a nice answer (like apps for little bits of data the player might want) - really flexible 2D system to allow player to organise on-screen elements in any way they want, but have enough widgets that (nearly) everyone can have whatever they want on screen). Codemasters seem to be great with their community side of things too.

I think at Sony the big compromise was that there was just too much of the PS2 reminents left in the PS3 game - but, in all fairness, this was a necessity at the time because we needed to get it out early in the console launch cycle. In truth though, we all suspected that with a one year gap for a proper next gen transition - we'd have been in a much stronger position and able to really address community needs and put the game out early in the season and to higher quality.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Burcombe on 15th November 2010 3:47pm

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Kane Caswell Community Manager, Crowdstar Games 10 years ago
HAve to say myself, i was greatly suprised by how polished this game was. Great marketting, released at the perfect time, and the game itself is one of the best driving games ive played in a wihle, and must say, I really feel it does the genre and sport justice. The way tracks must be practiced and learned, every mistake is payable (apart from the three time rollbacks; use them very wisely!!) and all the rules are there, I must say myself that Codemasters did a great job on this game.
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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari10 years ago
F1 is a great game. Too bad my save file got erased by a bug on the 360, luckily I wasn't that far along but it certainly lowered my enjoyment level.

I wonder if the success of F1 will open the door to a proper rally game for the codies? Dirt 2's car selection was perhaps the worst ever seen in a licensed racing game and while I have hopes for Dirt 3, I wouldn't mind seeing the same level of detail seen in F1 2010 applied to Rally... with group B cars included of course!

Regardless, Sony's F1 game on PS3 was a joke so I'm glad to see some enthusiasm and effort (and most importantly game design) put forth.

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Mark Faulkner Game Manager, Market Spring Pad Ltd10 years ago
An F1 browser game....interesting....
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Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.10 years ago
@Mark - Like your thinking.....Fully hardware accelerated HTML5 F1 game in a browser window - free to play and ad-supported? Hmmm.

@John - Re: F1CE (PS3) Ouch! Bit harsh mate..... anyway, Gamers liked it and their opinion is more important than yours ;)
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Chris Wise Game Developer / Entrepreneur 10 years ago
John, it's a pity you saw Sony's F1 game for PS3 as a joke, I thought it was far from that and was quite decent as far as F1 console games go. Being an F1 fanatic myself, I've played practically every F1 game released in the past 20 odd years and there's been some really good ones, but I've only ever felt the true essence of F1 come from one developer, and that was from Geoff Crammond. Apart from creating an atmosphere like no other, he nailed the perfect balance of simplicity and technical know-how ...a very similar approach to what I see in the Gran Turismo series, coincidentally Yamauchi-san is supposedly a big fan of Geoff Crammond. ;)
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Mark Faulkner Game Manager, Market Spring Pad Ltd10 years ago
@ Nick: depends on how hard-core you want to go. Unity would make an very playable browser game, or how about an F1 management game for social networks. The opportunities abound.
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Nick Burcombe CEO & Co Founder, Playrise Digital Ltd.10 years ago
@mark - totally agree. I play the fantasy f1 game on facebook every year, as do 25000 others, but an officially sanctioned management game on facebook would certainly appeal to me too. :)
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Andrew Bryant Content Manager 10 years ago
I'm must have missed all the 'great marketing'. All that stood out to me was the highly publicised yet fundamentally flawed 'career' mode (that was clearly hamstrung by the yearly license model) and the PR faux pas of promising before the game had even shipped that all the niggles that pre-release reviews had picked up on would be tidied in next years release. Especially galling for PC owners who were stuck with a digital-download-only retail model.

Still, the racing was fantastic, so it's good to note that Codemasters focused on what they do best!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Bryant on 16th November 2010 3:19pm

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