Codemasters is one of the oldest British video game developers. The CEO is Rod Cousens, formerly of Acclaim. In 2005, Codemasters was named as the top independent games developer by Develop Magazine, an international monthly journal for video game developers.
The co-founders, Richard and David Darling, were both appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2008 for services to the computer games industry.
Founded in 1986 by Richard and David Darling (who worked previously for Mastertronic), Codemasters quickly established themselves in the growing ZX Spectrum market, mostly with action games that required the player to solve simple puzzles by combining different objects. Among the best examples of these games are the Dizzy series. While Codemasters found their roots in the ZX Spectrum, they did not exclusively write for this one computer - they also released software (including the Dizzy series) for the Commodore 64, Commodore 16, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.
They were famous for releasing a long series of "Simulator" games, mostly sports simulations. This led to the parody "Advanced Lawnmower Simulator" being developed, praised to the skies and then published by Your Sinclair magazine as an April Fool's Day stunt.
Codemasters were one of a number of software houses in the 1980s that only released low retail price titles. Hence, when in 1992, they began to cut down on the budget releases in favour of full-price titles, they attracted the ire of many fans and the gaming press, the latter questioning the commercial logic behind it as Codemasters had known a great deal of success from their budget titles.
As the 8-bit computer market diminished, Codemasters turned to developing for the 8-bit and 16-bit console markets, as well as moving away from their budget title legacy to more full-price games on the 16-bit computers — 1993 saw the last title in the budget Dizzy series, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, although they released a full-price Dizzy game, Fantastic Dizzy later. They had major success with the Micro Machines series and Pete Sampras Tennis on the Sega Mega Drive. Both franchises featured the J-Cart, allowing two extra controllers to be attached to the game cart without requiring Electronic Arts' 4 way play or SEGA's four player adaptor.
The company attracted positive and negative criticism from the gaming press and the gaming public in the 1980s with quotes that appeared to come from the gaming press on the packaging of their games (e.g. "This game is absolutely brilliant!" on Fruit Machine Simulator) — a standard feature of game packaging. However, on closer inspection, the quote could be seen to be attributed to none other than David or Richard Darling, the founders of Codemasters.
In the early 1990s, the studio was the focus of an episode of It's a Living, a regional ITV programme that examined unusual careers and companies. The show was able to examine the inner workings of the offices and was primarily concentrated on the development of Cosmic Spacehead, plus the marketing efforts surrounding it.
Codemasters is notable for making the large majority of games published by the controversial Camerica company, which bypassed Nintendo's lock-out chip by glitching it and produced unlicensed NES games. These NES games were known for being shiny gold and silver cartridges that were slightly different from normal NES cartridges in shape, though they still fit into the cartridge slot. Many Codemasters titles were also featured on Camerica's Aladdin Deck Enhancer.
In 1990 Codemasters developed a device called the Power Pak, later renamed the Game Genie. It was a cheat cartridge for the NES, released in the US by Galoob and in Canada and the UK by Camerica. In an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit, Nintendo sued Galoob in the case Galoob v. Nintendo, claiming that the Game Genie created derivative works in violation of copyright law.
Between 1998 and 2003 Codemasters dominated one area of Game Console entertainment when they teamed up with Jester Interactive Limited to publish their range of music creation software, for PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PC, namely MUSICtm, Music 2000, MTV Music Generator and MTV Music Generator 2. In 2003 this partnership was dissolved, with Jester releasing their own Music 3000 product. Codemasters released their final music based product called MTV Music Generator 3 in 2004. Acko By Blade
In an effort to establish themselves in the United States, they announced that they would launch a new development studio in Oakhurst, using the abandoned Sierra facilities and hiring much of the Yosemite Entertainment's laid off staff in mid-September 1999.
Codemasters have since continued to release titles for later generation systems, such as the TOCA Touring Car series, Colin McRae Rally series, Brian Lara Cricket series and Operation Flashpoint. They currently own the rights to use the title Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, but have parted with the original developer Bohemia Interactive Studio. In spite of this, Codemasters released Operation Flashpoint: Elite, developed by Bohemia, for Xbox in October 2005. June 2006 saw the long awaited release of Sensible Soccer 2006.
In April 2007, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group entered into a game distribution agreement with Codemasters to distribute the company's titles in North America ending May 2008.
Also in April, Codemasters launched the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar in Europe on behalf of Turbine.
In June 2007 Codemasters were purchased by equity group Balderton Capital and they changed their logo to an interlocked metallic C and M. Later that month they released the latest in the Colin McRae Rally series, Colin McRae: Dirt. They have recently published Overlord and Clive Barker's Jericho.
In March 2008, Codemasters announced a new deal with Majesco. The new partnership will focus on titles for DS and Wii, including Nanostray 2, Toy Shop, Cake Mania 2 and Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society for DS, and Wild Earth: African Safari, Our House and Cake Mania for Wii.
On 9 May 2008, it was announced that Codemasters had won the rights to the Formula One license after Sony's deal ran out. Codemasters released their first Formula One game, F1 2009, on the Wii and PlayStation Portable in Autumn 2009, and another similar game, F1 2010, on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2010. The game will be based on the Dirt 2 engine.
On 8 April 2008, Sega announced the closure of Sega Racing Studio, although no reason was specified for the closure it has been assumed it was due to lacklustre sales of Sega Rally Revo. At a later time Sega announced none of the employees were folded into internal studios. On 25 April 2008, Codemasters bought Sega Racing Studio. The studio was headed by Guy Wilday, who was involved in the Colin McRae Rally games and was formerly the head of the studio behind the games and the series producer.
- Codemasters Studio Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, founded September 2006, a partnership between Codemasters UK and Malaysia's Vision New Media Sdn Bhd. The first game this studio contributed to was Race Driver Grid.
Supersonic Software Ltd. is a UK based independent games developer established in 1989. Supersonic Software consisted of programmer Peter Williamson, graphics artist Neil Adamson, Chris Graham, Lyndon Sharp and David Whittaker. Their games include BMX Freestyle (1989), Moto Cross Simulator (1989), Street Gang Football (1989), Super Car Trans Am (1989), Italian Supercar (1990) and Micro Machines 2.
- ↑ Codemasters ‘on top of the world’ as top 100 games developers league is revealed, Games Industry Biz, 06/05/2005
- ↑ Central Chancery Of The Orders Of Knighthood
- ↑ Cover packaging of Pro Power Boat Simulator, showing a "review" quote from David Darling
- ↑ Warner Bros. To Distribute Codemasters Games
- ↑ "PRESS RELEASE: Balderton Capital buys out founders of Codemasters, company receives £50m funding from Goldman Sachs". Gamesindustry.biz. 2007-06-14. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=25784.
- ↑ Codemasters release statement regarding Colin McRae's Death
- ↑ Codemasters unveils Majesco partnership - MCV 06/03/2008
- ↑ Codemasters secures official FORMULA ONE video game licence - product line to be jewel in racing game crown.
- ↑ Sega Racing Studio closed - news - www.developmag.com
- ↑ IGN: Codemasters Buys SEGA Racing Studio
- ↑ MobyGames - Guy Wilday
- ↑ Guy Wilday of Codemasters Interview /// Eurogamer
- ↑ Hinkle, David (2010-04-05). Reliance Big Entertainment acquires 50% stake in Codemasters. Joystiq. Retrieved on 2010-06-01
- ↑ Supersonic Software Ltd (UK). World of Spectrum. Retrieved on 2009-01-23