It’s been a sad week for UK game development, with NCsoft shutting the UK development studio and cancelling the unannounced MMO they were working on. The designers I knew working on the project are very sad, telling me only that it was an exciting project and they’re absolutely gutted to see it end.
There have been quite a few studios closing down over the past few months, with Pivotal also recently going in the UK. Microsoft have announced that US outfit Ensemble will be shuttered after Halo Wars is done. SEGA Racing was also closed in the UK this April, though Codemasters quickly snapped everyone up to form their own racing studio.
Gareth Edmondson of Ubisoft Reflections cites studio closures and consolidation as a sign of industry maturity. If so, it’s one that has been ongoing for 9 years or so, and I doubt it’s so cut and dry. Often closures and redundancies have been signs of bad production practices, such as scaling problems faced by companies that only work on one project at a time.
It seems the credit crunch is biting the games industry hard. It’s also the case that entertainment does well in times of recession. I expect to see the strongest players doing marvelously by the time the world is maneuvering back out of the present financial crisis, but am worried about developers. It’s highly likely that, big publishers doing business how they do, studios will only see a mite of the proceeds.
(CC image by Jasoon)