LONDON FOCUS: Part 4

LONDON FOCUS: Part 4

By Develop

January 23rd 2009 at 2:33PM

Part 3 of Developâ??s week-long special on some of Londonâ??s most successful studiosâ?¦

Ideaworks3D

Founded: 1998
Headcount: 65
Notable games: Metal Gear Solid Mobile, Project Gotham Racing Mobile, The Sims 2 Mobile
Key personnel/staff: Rob Hendry (Head of Studio), Tim Closs (CTO), Alex Caccia (CEO), Julian Jones (VP business development)
Contact: julian@ideaworks3d.com

If proof were needed that London is host to cutting-edge games developers, then Ideaworks3D is it. A handheld games and technology developer, it has invested over 30 man-years in its Airplay technology, which has been licensed to power a number of handheld games published by firms in Europe, North America and Japan.

Ideaworks3D is also a skilled developer, its most recent notable game being Metal Gear Solid Mobile for BREW and N-Gage.

“At the end of 2008, we find ourselves in an enviable position,” says CTO Tim Closs.
“Having for years been viewed, wrongly, as focusing purely on niche high-end projects, the startling success of Apple’s iPhone and App Store, and major emerging native platforms such as Nokia N-Gage has brought a broader awareness of our value offering.”

As it looks forward to 2009, the company is preparing to support more platforms and further establish itself as a key name for mobile games development. Says Closs: “The platform approach and business model of iPhone is becoming aligned in publishers’ minds with handheld platforms and even digital distribution platforms such as XBLA. Ideaworks3D is currently extending Airplay to support these. The increased tools and runtime functionality already added to Airplay to exploit OpenGL ES 2.0 can naturally be expanded to encompass the higher-end platforms such as WiiWare and PlayStation Network.”

As well as expanding its platform remit, the studio is also keenly keeping its workforce diverse, reflecting their home the city of London. Says Rob Hendry, head of studio at Ideaworks3D: “London is a creative city that attracts the best people from around the UK and the rest of the world. We have always worked hard to source staff globally, reflected in a company make-up which is notably diverse for its size.”


Zöe Mode London

Founded: 2008
Key personnel/staff: Nick Rodriguez (head of studio)
Contact: www.zoemode.com

Zoe Mode’s London team was opened just three months ago, after it became apparent that its Brighton parent was not only reaching full capacity at nearly 300 staff, but was still hungry for new talent to support its lifestyle games. The team is headed up by Nick Rodriguez.

Like his peers at Sony’s London Studio, Rodriguez says concerns of the higher cost of living and operating costs on the capital aren’t as high as many might fear.
 
“In the current climate, some of the things we would have expected to be very expensive are actually very competitive, office space for instance, we are looking to outgrow the current office in the next six months or so and it looks like there are some great deals about.

“With regards to staff, many of them were London-based already and so are just relieved not to be spending so much time and money on commuting. One of the things we were very conscious of when choosing the location for the new studio was that it was appealing to staff and there was easy access to the rest of the city and the commuter belt. It would have been odd not to take advantage of everything the city has to offer and chosen a location that wasn’t central and easily accessible.”

Being based in London also perfectly places Zoe Mode’s new team when it comes to finding people who have worked in other media fields who can compliment the kind of games the studio makes.

“We’ve had a policy of looking for people from outside the industry at Zoe Mode for some time with excellent results. We’ve hired people from film, broadcast and advertising as well as the corporate sector. The thing is to get people to understand that games have grown up and that skills from other industries are transferable and valuable to the games industry. Given the massive talent pool here in London, it would be foolish not to investigate and leverage all that potential.”