THE END OF BRITISH
Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com Source:
[ July 7th 2001 ]
to a report from an influential think-tank into
the British new media revolution, foreign competition
and a lack of vision could prevent the UK from
repeating the worldwide success of titles like
Core Designs Tomb Raider series in the future,
Guardian Unlimited reports today:
the release this weekend of the Lara Croft movie,
domestic games developers are enjoying unprecedented
popularity. The company which created Tomb Raider,
Eidos, has sold 22m copies of the game since 1996
and last year had a turnover of £195m. The success
is not limited to Eidos. Britain ranks second
only to Japan in the authoring of games software
in a global market worth over £12bn a year. Home-grown
products account for 12% of the US market and
25% of the European market. British game players
alone spend £1bn a year, compared with £650m spent
in cinemas. But the new report on knowledge entrepreneurship,
to be published by Demos, warns that the very
factors that led to the current success may ultimately
be the industry's downfall.
British computer games industry is at a critical
point in its development," the report concludes.
"The next few years will prove whether it will
suffer the fate of earlier innovative British
industries, built on a mixture of entrepreneurship
and DIY knowledge - shipbuilding in Glasgow, textile
machinery in Lancashire - which were unable to
meet better organised, funded and skilled competition
as the market matured." Born out of the home computer
craze in the 1980s, the pioneers of British gaming
taught themselves how to programme on cheap machines
such as the Sinclair Spectrum and the Commodore
C64. As the industry has evolved, it has retained
this do-it-yourself culture, with power remaining
in the hands of self-taught computer enthusiasts.
According to the Demos report, this culture may
hold the industry back as the technology and skills
required for authoring games becomes more sophisticated.
It is also becoming more ex pensive to develop
successful games, and the resources required may
be beyond the reach of the average UK company,
the report says.
British industry, despite its strength in developing
games, is comparatively weak at marketing and
publishing them. Foreign companies, such as the
US giant Electronic Arts, or the French developers
Infogrammes and Havas International, are far stronger.
Too many British companies lack ambition, focusing
only on producing the next game. This cottage
industry approach, according to Demos, could be
fatal. "They have a garage mental ity; not enough
of them want to be Microsoft," said John Sutherland,
who has developed the UK's first computer games
degree courses at Abertay university in Dundee.
They don't know how to scale up and there are
a lot of small, vulnerable, companies across the
UK." Peter Molyneux, one of Britain's most successful
games developers, who sold his first venture,
Bullfrog, to Electronic Arts in 1995 to set up
his company Lionhead, agreed.
games industry will never become higher profile
until it becomes mass-market. It's all very well
to have games that get harder and harder to play.
But you are just appealing to the same people
that bought your games last time."