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Codemasters accuses former exec's studio of poaching staff

High Court writ served on Playground Games; accused of damaging business

Codemasters has accused a rival studio set up by the publisher's former chief executive Nicholas Wheelwright of poaching staff and causing disruption to its development schedule.

According to High Court court documents obtained by the Daily Mail, Wheelwright's Playground Games poached key employees of Codemasters in order to give itself a head start of around 12 months on the development and marketing of its own games.

Those employees had access to trade secrets and confidential information, stated Codemasters, adding that their departures had caused delays to development of its own games.

"Those employees constituted a ready-made top-rate racing games development team. Between them they had some 100 years of experience in creating, developing and producing first-class computer racing games," stated the writ.

It added that poaching the team had enabled Playground to present itself to publishers such as Microsoft and Sega as a business with substantial experience.

The Colin McRae: DiRT publisher named 15 of its former employees in the writ, and stated its intention to seek unspecified damages and/or an account of profits in relation to Playground's actions.

Wheelwright founded Playground Games in November 2009 along with another former Codemasters executive, Trevor Williams.

The studio's website is currently advertising a number of art, design and engineering jobs.

Last week Codemasters confirmed it had secured former Sony Worldwide Studio VP Jamie MacDonald as its new senior VP of production.

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Kath Brice