Codemasters' new online race

Codemasters' new online race

By Rob Crossley

January 25th 2011 at 8:00AM

The team that packaged Grid and Dirt in boxes is taking a key IP to browsers - we ask why

Just months after India's Reliance Big Entertainment bought a 50 per cent stake in Codemasters, the Britsoft publisher is already showing signs of rude health.

The company has embarked on a hiring spree across its studios, and in particular sees growth opportunities in the emerging social and browser game markets.

Cue the developer’s new online free-to-play games project – a browser title that uses the lucrative F1 licence. Built at the firm’s Warwickshire base, Codemasters is on a major recruitment drive for the project and more.

Develop spoke to Codemasters Online Gaming producer Jim Brown for more details.

Do you believe bringing big brands to browser games, like F1, is part of a new trend in the browser games market?

Brown: Yeah I think developing high-quality 3D browser video games is becoming increasingly viable, and the social space has proven lots of consumers react positively to products you can play for either 5 minutes or 5 hours.

Running in a browser minimises barriers to players entering the game and allows product to be played on multiple platforms very easily. So, for us it’s a logical choice.
 
Trends come and go but this one’s definitely already started, and given the speed and quality of development in products like Unity 3D, I think it’s here to stay too.

In any new space having obvious initial appeal to the consumer is vital and a massive brand like F1 is a great way to achieve that.

Codemasters is on a hiring spree for this project as well, how many staff is it still looking for at its Warwickshire HQ.

We’re looking at a portfolio of products that leverage core company IP across various genres. The Studio is around 50 heads right now with potential to add more, we’re about 50 per cent staffed already.

It’s getting increasingly time-consuming to make big games across multiple platforms and the focus on gameplay can get lost sometimes, or at least hard to maintain. We want to get away from that and get back to a focus on fun, core mechanics and content.
 
Anyone who’s interested in rapid development with an emphasis on fun and playability, working in an excited & enthusiastic team should get in touch.

Is this focus to online and browser games another signal that the UK has to look beyond triple-A development, and in emerging technologies, to thrive?

I think this applies across the whole industry not just the UK, growth areas are good for all of us. Codemasters has been into the online space for 5 years now with our MMO titles and developing our own service-based games is the next logical evolution.

You’re again competing with Eutechnyx! They’re soon to release a racing MMO of their own – how healthy is that kind of competition?

I haven’t seen details of their product but the game we’ve just announced is pretty different and has several unique features. I’d hope by the time we’re done there’s little cross-over. Even if we were chasing the same consumers we’ll always be competing with someone, it’s a global market these days!

On the subject of competition, how do you feel about the loss of another competitor – Bizarre Creations?
It’s always sad to hear of developers facing challenges and particularly a company that’s delivered such high quality titles in the past.

Activision believes the racing genre is facing difficulties – is that a sentiment you understand?

I don’t think there’s any problem with the racing scene. The games market has grown and racing hasn’t necessarily grown as fast as some other segments but there’s still a sizeable and healthy appetite for good innovative racing titles, particularly for a major sport like Formula 1.