Leamington Spa start-up optimistic about UK development scene as it instigates substantial headcount boost

Playground Games on 50-man hiring spree

UK studio Playground Games is looking to hire at least 50 more developers to boost its headcount as production speeds up on an unannounced triple-A project.

The studio, which spent its first year growing steadily to build a core team of 21 staff and establish its infrastructure, is now looking to fill positions across all disciplines and at every level.

Playground’s design director Ralph Fulton told Develop that despite an explosion in cheap app studios, the team is working on a big budget release.

“Much has been made recently of diversification within games – new platforms, new audiences, new business models – but our focus is creating rich entertainment experiences for the core console gamer, and we believe there are lots of development staff out there who want to do the same,” said Fulton.

“Opportunities to work on games of this type are less common than they once were in this country, so we’re well placed to attract UK developers who have triple-A experience and wish to continue making triple-A games.”
A number of new team members have already joined Playground Games, including senior recruits from recently defunct outfit Bizarre Creations such as lead environment artist Chris Downey and art director Anthony Filice.

Playground’s growth means it is one of the few UK studios (outside of super-sized outfits such as Jagex, see page 10) actively expanding. Good news for those worried about British games development’s place on the global stage.

“Game development in the UK has had a bad couple of years, and is undeniably weaker than it once was, but the end is certainly not nigh, as some have suggested in recent months,” said Fulton, before encouraging others to set up new studios in a country often portrayed as a victim of the allure of the affluent Canadian industry.

“The UK remains a good place to start a new studio because it offers an abundance of talented and creative development staff,” insisted the design director.

 “If we’ve lost talent in the brain drain to Canada and the US over recent years, we’re equally seeing many of those ex-pats returning to Britain – working in a Canadian super-studio isn’t for everyone.”

Fulton insists that the UK can maintain its relevance, and points to other big budget consoles games like Arkham Asylum and the upcoming Arkham City, Fable 3 and the Grand Theft Auto series as proof of this.
“There is still a serious quality of developer in the UK to rival anywhere in the world,” he said.
“We set up Playground Games in order to harness that very quality, and to make games which sit comfortably on that list.”

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