FACTFILE: VENOM GAMES
Location: Tyne & Wear, UK
Number of Employees: 32
Recent Softography: Rocky: Legends (Xbox, PS2), Prey (360 version)
Currently Working On: Two undisclosed next gen projects
Acquisitions are ten-a-penny in the games industry, but there’s something strangely pleasing when you hear that some studios eyed for a purchase have ignited fierce bidding wars between suitors.
This was the case for Newcastle-based Venom, which was acquired by Take 2 at the end of 2004, but not until the publisher battled for ownership with a rival.
That was a key turning point for studio boss Peter Johnson, who says it was a proud moment for them: "It was great to have two of the largest publishers in the world competing with each other to acquire us as a studio when we completed Rocky Legends."
The studio had been opened just a year previously as an independent formed by the core members of Rage’s Rocky team. The gang managed to secure the contract for a sequel from Ubisoft which went on to become the aforementioned Legends – a title which turned the heads of Take 2.
"On completion of Legends at the end of 2004 we joined Take 2’s group of companies which enabled us to ramp up considerably for next gen development," explains Johnson.
First, the company worked on the 360 version of Prey as work progressed on its own original games – the first of which is on track for release next year.
Key to the company’s current activity has been a focus purely on next-gen platforms.
"We work only on PS3 and 360, and at the moment have two teams, a small one focusing on cross-platform conversion work (similar to that which we did on Prey), and the larger one on original games for those same platforms," explains Johnson.
As such, he says they’re primed for next-gen work, and the various team management and scale issues that brings, ahead of many others – and he’s not surprised by worries of not finding enough staff:
"It has been a big change for everyone in the industry, although we heard the same stories with the shift to PS2 and Xbox, so its not a new thing for us. We did our Rocky games with a pretty small team (around 16 people) and nearly doubled our headcount two years ago in readiness for next gen."