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Ex-Rockstar bosses working with Activision Leeds studio

Mark Washbrook and Mark Lloyd on board for new mobile business; Martyn Brown becomes director of partnerships and communication at Activision

Two ex-Rockstar UK bosses are working with Activision's new mobile studio, currently being established in Leeds.

GamesIndustry International understands that Mark Washbrook and Mark Lloyd are helping Martyn Brown (now officially director of partnerships and communication at Activision) to build the studio, which hopes to eventually boast around 40 staff.

Mark Washbrook was responsible for establishing Rockstar's London studio from scratch, which built handheld versions of Midnight Club and Manhunt 2 and most recently worked on the online components of Max Payne 3. He left Rockstar in February last year before working for six months at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe as game director.

Mark Lloyd was studio head of Rockstar Lincoln for over 12 years, overseeing QA and localisation for the company franchises. He left in March last year and established his own games consultancy service, Titanium Consultancy, now voluntarily wound down.

Today an Activision spokesperson would not discuss individuals, only stating: "It is very early days, but we are looking to recruit great talent from across the UK. We have retained a number of consulting firms to help us achieve this."

It's not yet known whether the pair will remain with Activision Leeds in the long-term or are just helping in the early stages of growth.

Activision Leeds was established in November last year. Opening a business in the city puts it in direct competition with Rockstar Leeds for local talent, as well as a number of other studios in the North East of England.

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Latest comments (8)

Carl Silvers Researcher, Electronic Arts9 years ago
It's great to see renewed investment in the UK games industry........long overdue!
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Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz9 years ago
Interesting that they're creating a mobile studio from scratch where competitors splash out on an acquisition. Activision could have its pick of European mobile studios but it's building to order.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
They might be wary of buying out one-hit-wonders that just got lucky.
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Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz9 years ago
Oh sure, but there's also a lot of established mobile/portable studios with plenty of years' experience and some decent hits under their belts.

Another thing I find interesting - if you look at the people involved so far Activision is making sure it gets very experienced portable console dev talent. That console experience applied to tablets/smartphones could be really interesting (as opposed to talent that has come into the industry from a purely mobile background).
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Some points:

There are several really juicy looking acquisition targets like Neon Play and Full Fat who have a roster of IP and who really know what they are doing.

Games as a service is vastly different from games as a boxed product in very many ways. Moving from console to iPhone means unlearning quite a lot. Which is why so many fail when they try.

Leeds is not exactly a thriving cluster like Brighton, Guildford, Dundee or Silicon Spa. It will be difficult to find talent there and more difficult to attract talent there. Why move to an employer who is the only option in town?

40 staff in a mobile studio is huge. Teams of 2 using Unity on 6 week cycles will produce more than 3 games a week!

Watch this space. Bobby Kotick is probably the best businessman in the game industry, he knows what he is doing and doesn't mess round with small distractions like some other big publishers do. He concentrates on big things, so this will be big.

Exceptionally good news for British game development. Could this be the beginning of all those ex-pats returning from Canada?
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Leeds would be a good worthwhile area to set up. Cheaper than the southern counties, without the economic independence issues of Scotland. Cost of living is much cheaper! Maybe as a mobile dev, they do NOT need a established cluster - they could be a Army of one...

All in all, the good news is UK is having reinvestment without recourse to the Govt (excludes UKTI who keep doing a fantastic job) who invariably seem to kick the ball (UK games stimulus, awareness, investment) into the long grass
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Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham9 years ago
Leeds may not be a hotspot, but it's a lot cheaper than those areas. It's not like there aren't developers around that area too, you have Sumo, Rockstar North, Team 17 and a few others.
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Overall a astute decision by Activision I say
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