- Currently has about 40 employees, aiming for 80 over next few months
- Looking at e-sports opportunity, believes content will still be king
CODEMASTERS Software Co Ltd, one of the oldest videogames developers in the United Kingdom, is embarking on an aggressive expansion plan this year, aiming double the size of its team in Kuala Lumpur over the next few months.
The decision comes in the wake of Codemasters’ April acquisition of Evolution Studios, the company behind racing franchises such as Driveclub and MotorSport.
Reliance Entertainment, via its 60%-owned Codemasters, had bought Evolution Studios for an undisclosed sum after then owner Sony Computer Entertainment had decided to close it down.
According to Codemasters vice president of development creative services Stephen Root, since taking on Evolution Studios, there are a number of projects that both teams have in production and another franchise that Codemasters wants to bring back that are “all coming at once.”
“Hence, we have set a very aggressive expansion plan for our KL studio,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur (KL) recently.
Codemasters had set up its MSC Malaysia-status subsidiary back in 2006. The British company, which specialises in racing simulation games, currently has about 40 employees in its KL studio, most of them designers and artists.
These artists are responsible for designing the cars as well as the environments in the company’s games – from the racetracks, to the billboards and tyre barriers on the racetracks or off-road rally courses.
Root said the KL team may be taking on more responsibilities. “We are looking into extending our ability into user interface and more character animation work,” he said.
Codemasters Accelerator Programme
Root said he is also aiming for 75% of Codemasters’ workforce to be Malaysian.
Over the past few years, the company has been training graduates and those relatively new to the industry via its Codemasters Accelerator Programme and other training initiatives.
It is also working closely with stakeholders such as universities as well as government agencies like the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) of the Prime Minister’s Department and InvestKL, on growing the local talent pool.
Pemandu is in charge of the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP), which aspires to see Malaysia become a high-income nation by 2020. InvestKL, also an ETP initiative , is tasked with attracting and facilitating foreign multinational investments into greater KL and the Klang Valley areas.
So far, Codemasters’ specialised programmes have shown encouraging results, Root claimed.
“We did an analysis over a period of four to five years, and more than 95% of the people who have gone through the Codemasters Accelerator Programme are all employed.
“That is a very good statistic,” he said.
Moving into e-sports, expanding platforms
Like many videogames developers, Codemasters is also looking into penetrating the e-sports segment.
“We are currently looking at the possibility of bringing one of our off-road titles into the e-sports arena,” said Root (pic above). “It is an area we find very fascinating.”
Codemasters is in talks with some of the “key e-sports players,” he added.
Today, games are played across multiple platforms – consoles, personal computers, mobile phones, portable gaming devices, and more. Which platform is going to win the game?
“It is very difficult to predict. I think there is a place for all of them,” said Root, adding that companies like Sony and Microsoft Corp will continue pushing game console technology.
Furthermore, videogame consoles are seeing new styles of gaming, including virtual reality (VR). Many games developers and hardware companies are looking into VR, which is certainly picking up momentum.
“If you find the killer game or killer app, it [VR] will explode,” said Root.
But how is Codemasters, a relatively small studio, going to compete with giants like Electronic Arts and Activision over the next decade?
“I think it is a matter of working out what your gaming strengths are, and then matching them with the hardware platform – whether it is virtual reality, e-sports, mobile or console,” said Root.
“However, we would need to be a bit more careful about what we do with our portfolio – we are not a big company which can afford to take on more bets,” he conceded.
“Ultimately, I think the focus should still be on building great games and giving gamers a good experience.
“After all, platforms are just a medium to play on. I believe great content will eventually win out,” he added.
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