Bodycount devs to close
Codemasters Guildford, the studio responsible for recent action shooter Bodycount, is to close its doors for good.
Staff were informed of the decision by parent company Codemasters at a meeting at 11 this morning, reports Gamesindustry.biz. It appears that staff were recalled from holiday to attend the crisis meeting, and some began receiving recruitment emails this morning.
Codies’ decision follows the poor review showing of Bodycount, which achieved a Metacritic rating of only 53 in its Xbox incarnation. Our review cited several problems with the game, including the frustrating controls, badly designed enemy AI and underwhelming multiplayer. The developer also lost creative director Stuart Black last year, and seems to have suffered from the departure of the gaming celebrity.
The company looks set to expand its remaining teams in Warwickshire and Birmingham, and throw more resources behind its popular and successful racing games such as Dirt and F1. The full official statement reads:
“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.
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 envisages that it will continue to have a number of open positions within the Racing and Online studio teams at Codemasters’ campus in Warwickshire working on Dirt, Grid, F1 Online and with the F1 team in Birmingham, which is being expanded to house a full second team working on a new racing IP. In the event that staff working within the Guildford site are affected by the current proposals, they will be encouraged to apply for suitable positions on campus and in the Birmingham studio.”
It is a real shame to see developers losing their jobs, and only serves to underline the high stakes involved in the modern games industry. A single damaging failure can often spell severe financial hardship for a studio, which tends to discourage companies from taking risks. The profusion of sequels and remakes coming from the big publishers this year is a consequence of this aversion to risk, and as budgets become ever higher for AAA titles, it’s unlikely we’ll see big companies gambling on new IP as often in the future.