Codemasters issued a statement yesterday, confirming that it is set to close its Guildford Studio. The Guildford Studio is known for last month’s lackluster first-person shooter, Bodycount, a game that debuted to poor reviews from critics, including a less than stellar review from our very own Rob Keyes, and peaked at number 36 on the new release chart.
Codemasters explained that the closure is due to a refocusing of efforts on existing franchises such as DiRT and GRID, and a consolidation of operations within the UK to their studios in Birmingham and Warwickshire.
One could take the closure of Codemasters Guildford Studio as a sign of on-going troubles for the games industry in the UK. In fact, the closure of Guildford Studio marks the second such closure of a UK studio within the last two weeks. Disney Interactive closed Black Rock Studios, the creators of Split/Second, in Brighton after an announcement was made in July. In that case, Disney Interactive chose to create two separate studios from the closure of Black Rock.
With Guildford, Codemasters intends to do the opposite and scale back its operations. Below is part of the official press release:
Codemasters’ future product development strategy will see additional studio resource invested to extend its world-class racing portfolio. The company is increasing the size of existing development teams at its on-campus studios in Warwickshire (DiRT, GRID, F1 Online, Central Technology/EGO) while forming a further team to work alongside the F1 2011 team at its Birmingham studio on a new racing title.
In line with the strategy, the company is proposing to retire from its facility in Guildford, most recently responsible for the shooter Bodycount. If progressed, the move will affect 66 Guildford studio personnel; staff are now involved in a consultation period to discuss the proposal.
It’s a shame the studio and personnel couldn’t do more with Bodycount – if it were fleshed into into a worthy full retail game like we wanted it go be, there could have been franchise born from it instead of an immediate shutdown in operations. Codemasters also has the Operation Flashpoint franchise and they will be focusing on their racing titles – rightfully so, considering we enjoyed DiRT 3. According to Codemasters representative, there will be opportunities available on the growing teams for F1 Online as well as the two aforementioned franchises.
“As Codemasters looks to take greater leadership in the racing category, the company is proposing a studio structure that adds resource and strengthens our best-in-class racing teams. The output from the studios on the Warwickshire campus and in Birmingham is on the increase with multiple continuing game series, brand extensions and new racing IPs in production. Both the Warwickshire and Birmingham studios have won BAFTAs for their critically acclaimed, multi-million selling titles and the company is adding resource to ensure they constantly over achieve in this competitive sector.”
Codemasters has not specified an exact date when the studio will close its doors nor a timetable for when this consolidation of its assets and operations will actually occur. Regardless of opinions regarding Bodycount, our condolences go out the 66 members of the Guildford Studio, and here’s hoping they manage to land on their feet. Also lets hope that Codemasters honors its statement about finding new homes for these developers at their Birmingham studio.