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Developers swoop for ex-CiRCLE staff

Leading development studios based in the Midlands have already begun recruiting staff from defunct outfit CiRCLE Studios, <i>GamesIndustry.biz</i> can reveal.

Leading development studios based in the Midlands have already begun recruiting staff from defunct outfit CiRCLE Studio, GamesIndustry.biz can reveal.

Although the closure of the studio is yet to be made official, as revealed on Tuesday, the company founded by industry veterans Jeremy Heath-Smith and Adrian Smith has gone into liquidation.

However, staff at the Derby-based developer could soon be recruited by a number of studios in the region, including Free Radical Design, Swordfish Studios, Rebellion and Eurocom.

"The closure of CiRCLE Studios means that we are now talking to some ex-CiRCLE employees," confirmed David Doak, director of Free Radical Design, based in Nottingham.

CEO of Rebellion, Jason Kingsley, also revealed the company is currently in talks with members of the CiRCLE team, stating: "We're talking to some selected individuals who have sent in CVs direct to our Rebellion Derby [offices]."

Although a studio closure can be bad news for the industry as a whole, Doak sees the opportunity to recruit skilled staff and keep them in a region well-populated with some of the UK's world-class development teams.

"Whilst the closure of a studio is obviously unfortunate for those involved, it does present an interesting opportunity for recruitment," said Doak.

"A number of skilled and experienced people who may have been quite happy in their jobs are now looking for new work. The challenge for us is to find the good ones."

Sources close to CiRCLE revealed that Birmingham developer Swordfish Studios is another interested party, demoing a new title at the studio the very afternoon that employees had been informed of their redundancy.

Swordfish had clearly been made aware of the impending crisis, allowing them to prepare a pitch to recruit key personnel and keep staff in employment.

Recruitment firms are also said to be hovering over the studio, as is Pirates of the Caribbean developer Eurocom, a company situated in the same city as CiRCLE.

CiRCLE had released only one game for home consoles since the outfit was formed in 2003, the poorly received Without Warning with publisher Capcom.

Since then, the company had gone on to forge a niche in the interactive DVD market, signing partnerships with The Discovery Channel, Sony BMG, EMI and Universal Music.

The company also mooted a flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, and in May 2006 secured a seven figure sum from The Royal Bank of Scotland to invest in official iDVD titles for FIFA, Eurosport and the NBA.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.