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UK dev Atomicom reinvented as Starlight Games to focus on new IP

Founder Gary Nichols says the new Liverpool-based studio will concentrate on fostering young talent from the local area

Image credit: Above from left to right: Gary Nichols, Ben Cronin, Nick Burcombe, and Andy Santos

Former Psygnosis developer Gary Nichols has formed a new studio, Starlight Games.

Based in Liverpool, the team had previously been working as Atomicom since 2010.

"We decided we wanted a fresh new studio focused on creating our own IP, so Starlight Games was born," founder and CEO Gary Nichols tells

Representatives said Starlight was formed as a different company because new investment was landed to focus on building a team around new IP, moving away from its previous specialty as a work-for-hire studio.

The Atomicom name was therefore abandoned for the studio to reinvent itself as Starlight Games. Atomicom will still exist on paper, to fulfil a historic IP deal and for VGTR reasons, but the whole team moved over to work under the new Starlight banner, and is still operating from the same office in Liverpool as well.

In addition to Nichols, the Starlight founding team includes new hires production designer Ben Cronin (Gamesco, Openbox Gaming), design director Nick Burcombe (Psygnosis, Playrise), and game director Andy Santos (PortalOne, co-creator of Skate).

"We already had a core team in place and wanted to build on this with our great relationships, experience, and history and make sure we had the right talent internally, as well as those we work with as contractors who feel the same as we do," Nichols explains. "We have worked to bring in many new people and offer them a great place to work and ability to help us move forward and build this new studio."

"We want to help give the new generation of passionate game developers a chance to get into the games industry"

He continues: "We are a tight team, and we have ambitions on the games we want to create, which are fun and diverse, and we want to also embrace new talent within the studio across different roles, helping give the new generation of passionate game developers a chance to get into the games industry."

Starlight currently has several games in development, including House of Golf 2, a successor to its own 2019 title released under the Atomicom name, and a couple new IPs including a "futuristic" sports game led by Burcombe, and a "rogue-like science fiction strategy simulation management game."

This includes involving young talent in the development process. For example, Starlight Games are currently working with a group of students who are leading projects using Epic's Unreal Editor for Fortnite.

"We work closely with a local university to give students a place to learn and excel at while they do their final year of their degree," Nichols says. "All have gone on to [graduate] and many are now in the games industry including a good number that are on our team.

"A few of our new local recruits are already taking on a lot of responsibility and showing how talented they are. We have one young team member that's leading a tech change brought about by Unreal Engine 5's GAS system [a framework used for implementing gameplay tags and abilities], another two are creating their own UEFN titles at the studio. It's great to watch how they develop their skills and experience."

One of their main goals as a new studio is to focus on fostering young talent as well as utilising an already established talent pool of developers and creators.

"One of the biggest issues right now is how much noise there is, so many different platforms and everyone trying to be heard – it's a tough time, our approach is to go out and look," Nichols highlights.

"We go to open days at universities, we talk to lecturers and try to find the people that are passionate and motivated and have talent, to help them shine. We struck lucky with a very talented young programmer that after finishing university went on to the Mastered program, which showed how determined they were to get into games."

"One of the biggest issues right now is how much noise there is and everyone trying to be heard – it's a tough time, our approach is to go out and look"

Despite the current climate of layoffs and studio closures, Nichols is optimistic about the future of the UK games industry, from working and supporting young talent to the efforts of organisations such as the Games Fund.

"The amazing things the Games Fund are doing [such as supporting independent developers and awarding grants], the Mastered program, the break-out hits from UK studios, show how much potential there is in the UK for success and how driven we are in the UK games industry to make things happen.

"Throughout most of 2023 we were talking to publishers and it's clear there's a big issue, not many are signing games, not many have resources available or willing to take risks. We had a couple of offers but they were not mutually beneficial. So while we want to work with partners and publishers, we're trying to get to a place where we don't have to depend on them if it's not beneficial to both of us. The industry is evolving away from that old model, I feel, and we must adapt."

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Sophie McEvoy avatar
Sophie McEvoy: Sophie McEvoy is a Staff Writer at She is based in Hampshire and has been a gaming & entertainment journalist since 2018.
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