Things looked pretty bleak last summer for developer Radiant Worlds. The Leamington Spa studio was working exclusively for South Korean publisher Smilegate on SkySaga: Infinite Isles when the word came down to stop development indefinitely.
With its income source halted, the company posted that it was entering consultation with all staff, with massive job losses on the cards. After four years of development on the title it was a massive blow for the Oliver Twins, CEO Philip and CTO Andrew, and all the staff
Thankfully, as we reported last week, a knight in shining armour has come to their rescue, in the form of Rebellion. With the studio to be renamed as Rebellion Warwick and to immediately start work on the company’s upcoming titles – including third-person, co-op shooter Strange Brigade. It joins Rebellion Liverpool in the Oxford-based publisher’s northern expansion.
Staff at the newly renamed developer were unavailable for comment, so we caught up with Rebellion’s Jason Kingsley to talk about the thinking behind the acquisition.
What attracted you to the studio?
The timing was right for us both, in that Radiant Worlds had just concluded the SkySaga project, and we were looking to expand, but were, and still are limited in physical space here in Oxford.
We have also worked closely with the Olivers over the years, particularly through their involvement with TIGA, and they are friends of ours, and lastly, the team they have managed is very talented and felt like it would fit into our ethos at Rebellion.
Have any wider trends in the industry informed your decision to expand?
Not really, as you know we’re pretty independent, so what others do or don’t do is not that relevant to us. We simply want to make good games. Having more people help us do that is a good thing and the opportunity came at the right time for both parties.
What specific expertise does the studio possess which Rebellion can make use of?
There’s nothing specific that stands out other than the general ability of the Warwick studio to develop great games. They probably have a bit more experience than Oxford of live game operations but overall the general making-games skills are the thing that is the most valuable to us.
Could the new studio allow you to further explore your current stable of IP?
Maybe, though these days, even an additional 70 people doesn’t go very far, so it won’t mean more games from Rebellion in the near future but it will help us get the games we are making out on time and to a high standard.
Can we expect more titles per year from the expanded Rebellion?
Probably not, we have an ambitious schedule of releases over the next few years. The new studio will help get those released.
Has the weakness of the pound, and consequently bigger profits from EU and US game sales, made investing in UK development talent more appealing?
I think a weaker currency is generally good for net exporters, so yes I’d say the fall in Sterling has been a benefit for the UK development scene.
With so many ‘healthy’ platforms now in the market (PC, PS4, Xbox, Switch), is having a larger team necessary to make the most of them all?
Having a larger team is only necessary if you are doing ‘larger’ type games. It is possible to make great games with both small and large teams. We tend to make the larger type titles such as Sniper Elite or Strange Brigade, but we have made medium-sized gems like Battlezone VR [about which we discussed VR nausea at length last year]. As always it depends on the type of game you want to make.
So everything looks to be settled in Leamington Spa for now. For more about Rebellion’s ambitions read our recent 25th anniversary piece.