Can Brits retain their empire?

Empire announced to the city last Friday (February 3rd) that it is “currently in discussion with a number of parties which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company.”

US firms VU Games and Kelly Sumner’s Red Octane have been named as suitors, with sources claiming bids around the $8 million mark were already on the table.
Codemasters, as revealed by MCV last week, having secured a further cash injection from Benchmark and having attracted former Sony boss Chris Deering as chairman, is pushing ahead with its plan of a float or sale within the next 18 months.

And following its acquisition of Eidos last year, SCi has repeatedly been the subject of takeover chatter, Midway tipped for a swoop, sources claiming that price is the only obstacle.

Meanwhile, Dundee-based Visual Science was this week forced into administration (MCV Newsflash 7/2), following the cancellation of a project with VU Games – something the studio’s chief executive Tim Christian claimed to MCV was a “breach of contract,” with legal action against VU already underway.

Whatever the outcome, Visual Science has become part of a depressing statistic that has seen the number of UK developers halve in five years. Consolidation is certain to continue, with the US giants better placed to do any major swallowing. It’s a predictable chain of events for obituary writers, but other market watchers have an altogether more positive outlook.

“The end of Britsoft has been written about endlessly,” Lodestar Partners’ Nicholas Lovell told MCV. “But SCi has demonstrated that with a lot of brains and ambition it can step up to a global level. Similarly, Coders have managed to attract Chris Deering, Benchmark and Rod Cousens – some real heavy-hitters.

“We should be celebrating the successes of what these guys have gone out and done. Last year there were a lot of very good Brit games from the likes of Lionhead, Frontier and Creative Assembly – Britsoft is not over yet.”


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