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Codemasters boss warns against outsourcing abroad

"UK development is worth investing in," Cousens tells EIF audience

Codemasters MD Rod Cousens has called for more investment in the UK games industry - warning there are hidden drawbacks to developing titles in low cost locations.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, Cousens said there are "hidden costs" when outsourcing to countries such as China. "Western companies in these areas are seen coming. They walk in and their cost rate is about 30 to 40 per cent of the UK, and then guess what? They discover the dollar and the rates go up.

"They also have high staff rotation, because they move from one to another as the salaries go up," Cousens continued. "You get rising prices and falling quality."

Other drawbacks, Cousens argued, include the time it takes to manage development in low cost locations, the lack of IP protection in place, and problems caused by language barriers and time differences. "High labour rates are nullified by creativity and quality... There is an aspect of this you can't put a price on, and that is the value of creativity," he continued.

Cousens conceded it can be more expensive to develop games within the UK - but said it's worth the extra investment. "When you create hits, they render development costs relative... For me it's about creating global hits, and then development costs become an academic part of it," he said.

As an example, Cousens cited Codemasters' own Race Driver: GRID, which he said cost "about GBP 6.8 million" to develop. On the game's day of release 1.4 million copies were sold, and Cousens predicted final sales will stand at between 1.8 million and 2 million units, with revenues at around GBP 31 million - 32 million. "That's a pretty good return on investment," he observed.

"I would say that British development is sought after. You only have to look at the activities of companies like Sony, Warner Bros., Take-Two, THQ, EA and Disney, all of whom have bought UK developers at some time and made some of them very successful," continued Cousens.

"UK development is worth investing in. It is strong, vibrant and creative, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a case of Rule Britannia."

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Latest comments (1)

Itís good to read Rod fighting the corner for British based talent.

Many of our clients have had a bad time outsourcing content abroad: thatís why they approach us (3D Creation Studio is an art production studio based in the UK). But at the end of the day, from my perspective, itís down to the quality of the art team and the management structure thatís in place to pull it all together.

Iíve been on the other side of the fence as well and it can be such a false economy using a studio overseas just because it can undercut a British competitor. You can end up spending x amount of time fixing the submitted artwork to get it up to the quality of your internally produced work which kind of nullifies the savings you set out to make by going overseas in the first place.

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