The Department for Transport heard proposals from just one UK studio, and two from the US, when deciding which company should be commissioned a ₤2.8 million game project, Develop can reveal.
Code of Everand, developed over four years by New York studio Area/Code, is a browser game that can help teach young Britons road safety issues.
Yet the department has confirmed that only three studios – two of which were based in the US – had offered to work on the lucrative project when a call was first sent out.
The apparent lack of UK interest in a lucrative, government-funded project has raised suspicions that the British games industry had not been widely informed of the deal.
A Freedom Of Information request found that, over a four year funding stretch, a total of ₤2,785,695 was sent across the Pacific for Area/Code to develop and update Code of Everand.
Analytics reports have shown the game has flat-lined in popularity since April 2010. Its 170,000 registered user-base represents a development cost of about ₤16 for each person signing up to the game. Media reports previously suggested the project had been delayed past at least two deadlines.
The Department for Transport said it could not reveal the name of the UK studio that offered its services. It added that calls to games developers were made through a third-party agency, which had not been named.
“We followed COI guidelines when deciding who to award the contract for the development of the Code of Everand,” a spokesperson for the department said.
“All of the proposals put to the Department were judged against strict criteria and UK suppliers were considered. The contract was awarded to the company who put forward the proposal which best responded to our brief.”