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[ May 11th 2006 ]

British publisher Eidos - the company assimilated into SCi Entertainment Group earlier this year - has hammered the final nail into the coffin of Core Design by selling off the Derbyshire-based studio and moved towards opening a new studio in Sweden, trade paper MCV reports this morning.

Core Design - founded by brothers Adrian and Jeremy Heath-Smith - paved the way for 3D action-adventure gaming in 1996 with the release of Tomb Raider. The game's main protagonist, Lara Croft, went on to become one of video-gaming's most prolific female heroines, spawning six further adventures, two motion pictures and a string of promotional tie-ins.

Core Design also produced the ground-breaking, squad-based shooter Project Eden and warmed the hearts of Disney lovers by introducing the insatiable Herdy Gerdy and his technicolor capers to console owners.

The studio hit turbulent waters in 2004 with the premature release of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness, and although numerous factors were responsible for the game being rushed to the shelves, ultimately Core Design weathered the full force of a critical mauling and became the scapegoat for a string of failures.

Jeremy and Adrian Heath-Smith quit Core Design, and with a large portion of the studio's workforce, created Circle Studio, where the team have successfully established themselves as a leading force in DVD interactive titles.

Eidos ported future development of the Tomb Raider franchise to U.S. developer Crystal Dynamics, who - in 2006 - successfully met their charge to rejuvenate the series with the release of Tomb Raider Legend.

Following massive restructuring at Core Design, both in terms of mission objectives and Eidos' plans to streamline its business, the studio refocused and geared its workforce to create and develop titles for Sony's PSP. Smart Bomb and Free Running were born.

According to MCV, 60 staff at Core Design will now join UK studio Rebellion and begin working on a sequel to Shellshock.

SCi is following a strategy of in-house studios for top franchises and third party deals elsewhere, whilst also eagerly looking at new resources in Europe. Wholly-owned studios now consist of Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider Legend), I-O (Hitman Blood Money), Pivotal (Conflict Global Storm) and Beautiful Game (Championship Manager).

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