LONDON FOCUS: Part 2

LONDON FOCUS: Part 2

By Develop

January 21st 2009 at 12:01AM

Part 2 of Develop's week-long special on some of London's most successful studios..

Gamewax

Founded: 2006
Headcount: 12
Notable games: Chase HQ 2 (Taito arcade), Wacky Races (Banpresto arcade)       
Key personnel/staff: Takeshi Uchi, Mitsu Asami
Contact: mitsu@gamewax.com

Gamewax is a fairly unique studio in the UK capital which has pretty much flown under the radar since its founding in 2006.

The West London team of arcade game developers is largely made up of Japanese staff, formally of some major Japanese publishers with the majority having over 10 years experience each. It also has a sister studio in Kobe, Japan. The team is also a registered developer for 360, DS and Wii platforms and is currently actively exploring various technology and concepts as it plans to enter the console games sector.

“Being located in London has great worldwide appeal,” says development director Mitsu Asami. “We have great accessibility here so this is fantastic for clients and visitors from overseas as well. From a development perspective, the large population makes it easier to find resources whilst providing a vast, diverse market for valuable research. London is often the trendsetter for many sectors so there’s good reason to be here.”

The team’s small scale has also meant its been relatively cheap for the studio to set up in central London, as well. “Due to the size of our company, there was no huge benefit to move out of the capital – which would have killed off a great proximity advantage to multiple arcade sites and our ability to observe market trends of the amusement industry easily,” says Asami. “There is of course, a higher cost impact to consider in all of this including personal living expenses but it’s not easy to judge the quality of life by implication of money alone. We love London and are excited to be here.

“London is one of the most attractive and fast moving places in the world. One of the primary reasons we decided to setup in the London was to infuse our Japanese cultural and design background with European influences and create a unique flavour.”

Mediatonic

Founded: 2005
Headcount: 15
Notable games: Amateur Surgeon, Gigolo Assassin, Poppit  
Key personnel/staff: Paul Croft (director of games) David Bailey (managing director)
Contact: info@mediatonic.co.uk

Mediatonic is the exact kind of studio that many think wouldn’t be sustainable in London – a smaller games team working on indie-style projects. But Mediatonic in fact prospers thanks to being based in London rather than being punished by the city’s significant cost demands.

A developer of Flash games, the studio has worked on games including Amateur Surgeon and Gigolo Assassin for Adult Swim’s online sites and Poppit for EA’s Pogo.com.

“There is an incredible amount happening on a daily basis in London,” says game director Paul Croft. “Elements in our games are inspired from a wide variety of sources from art exhibitions to comedy concerts. In order to keep our ideas fresh and take advantage of everything that's happening on our doorstep we have monthly studio outings to different events happening in London.

“Our studio has an eclectic mix of people and we've been able to tap into some of the things at the heart of London. Concepts for different parts of our games come from all members of the team; we believe the environment we're in and the things we do as a studio give us many benefits in terms of the games we great.”

Plus, says Croft, “London hosts many game events and is a strong hub for the industry there's a lot going on studios can tap into and benefit from. Mediatonic also finds that London offers a good talentbase – but not in the obvious way.

Says Croft: “As we make web based games, our main competition when recruiting tends to come from the large London advertising agencies as oppose to other development studios. Luckily the fact that we make games also gives us the advantage over these agencies, it’s a very appealing career and as such we're often inundated with applicants for positions and can cherry pick the very best candidates.”