When I think of the British development scene my mind typically flashes to a period in the mid-’90s when Core Design and Rare were at the height of their powers. Of course it’s now Rockstar North, Lionhead and Media Molecule that I think of first. In my consumer mind, it’s a scene that hasn’t changed all that much: I can always rely on the U.K. to turn out a few impressive titles each year. I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment either; however, in believing that the community is largely the same, that only the dominant studios have changed and all is as it should be, I show just how little I, and others like me, understand the U.K. development community.
Given my ignorance, the articles this week were eye openers. What I found in the process of putting the issue together was that the heyday of the U.K. development scene was focused around a few charismatic personalities and the games that comprised the bedroom coding scene in the mid-1980s. Since then, the development community has been suffering a continual brain drain as much of the talent fostered in that era has moved overseas. Whether it’s because of a lack of government support, a shift in the focus of the education system or the dearth of accessible amateur development platforms, the portrait of the U.K. development community that emerges is one of a scene in decline.
This week we shook up the Magic 8-ball on the future of U.K. developers and received the equivalent of a “Reply Hazy.” What is clear is that despite the challenges ahead, the U.K. has produced its fair share of industry luminaries and leaders in the past and will likely do so again. May the sun never set on U.K. developers.