The UK games industry has today felt a bitter blow as one of the oldest studios in the country, Blitz Games Studios, broke the news that it has closed its doors.
Blitz was a major part of the games and tech cluster in Leamington Spa – aptly known as Silicon Spa, and profiled in Develop's September issue – and its founders, the Oliver Twins, took a keen interest in the area’s development scene and the opportunities it offered talent.
With more than two decades of history behind the studio, social media has been awash with messages of good luck and condolences for Blitz and its staff.
Develop has contacted a number of UK studios from the region to hear their views on the closure, and what it will mean for the Leamington Spa development scene.
Richard Eddy, director of communications at Codemasters, said: “Blitz has been a core player in the West Midlands development scene for so many years and it is exceptionally sad to learn of its closing. We have been in contact with Philip to offer our best for the future and to provide details of some 30 development positions at Codemasters in Warwickshire and Birmingham that we are able to offer to Blitz staff affected.”
Chris Southall, CTO of Sega Europe, said: “We’re really saddened here to see Blitz shutting its doors – they’ve been a fantastic employer with one of the lowest staff turnovers around and been a big influence in development scene here over the years. It’s a close development community, with many links between Hardlight and Blitz staff – we wish everyone well in whatever they go on to do next.
“The local area in and around Leamington Spa continues to be very active as a hub for game development in the UK, so from this bad news I’m confident we’ll see some great new ventures from the talented Blitz folks appear in due course.”
Richard Tawn, group art director at Exient, said: “This is a tragic time for so many talented developers and indeed the numbers are quite unprecedented in the history of the town’s games business. Right now I think it’s really important to underline the many opportunities available to those effected and I know many studios within the town and further afield are already speaking with staff about what is available.
“Speaking of the Leamington Spa ‘cluster’, I’m not convinced that this will change things for the worse, quite differently the experience and knowledge that was at one time locked away in a single business will now spread out into the surrounding operations or even grow into several new outfits and we may get to see something that every developer strives for; new, fresh and innovative experiences.”
Andy Wafer, CEO of Pixel Toys, said: “It’s disappointing, saddening and no doubt very stressful for those losing jobs. As such a large employer of talent closure will certainly impact the cluster in the short term. Blitz has been a positive force in the local gaming community, driving local IGDA events, mentioning initiatives, indie support and knowledge sharing in and around Leamington.
“However, through the transition into a new leaner company many jobs are likely to be saved. The support for staff from both inside the company and elsewhere in the area suggests many of those who lose jobs may be picked up by other local companies. And with all that talent and experience, as well as local peer and government support, there's a good chance we may see more start-ups seeded. There’s a strong growing start-up community here, we wouldn’t have wanted to start Pixel Toys anywhere else.”
Fish in a Bottle
Justin Eames, co-founder and managing director of Fish in a Bottle, said: “Like many of the smaller studio in the area, we’ve benefited from Blitz’s generosity many times. They have provided us with work, given us a voice when lobbying government and Philip and Andrew were always willing to give their time and advice.
“No doubt Blitz’s closure will leave a big hole, and I hope over time that can be filled by others, including the ventures that will no doubt be formed on the back of todays news.
“Philip and Andrew were personally behind many of the Leamington Spa initiatives and I hope they will be able to continue that effort in some capacity in the future.
“Our industry has not only lost a great independent developer, but one of the nicest collections of people I've ever met. For 23 years Philip, Andrew and their team built a business based on strong ethical values and nurtured talent across the board.”
Develop is awaiting more responses and will update this story as soon as we receive them.