I was wondering, as I was watching events unfold recently about Codemasters Guildford, how sad it is when a company shuts down purely because of a product they spent so much time and effort working on fails, when it comes to sales.
That seems to be what happened with the recent release of Bodycount, a first person shooter from the guys at Codemasters Guildford that really isn't all that bad when it comes down to it. Sure the story isn't all that magnificent and the shooting mechanic has been done better in other games, but does that mean the the developers that poured sweat, tears and sometimes even literally blood into bringing us the product deserve to be out of a job?
It's always sad to see companies go the way of the dodo and it's even worse when it's a company as close to my heart as Codemasters Guildford, but is there something they could have done to avoid being closed down? I don't think so. At the end of the day it all comes down to marketing in my opinion (and that's all this post is, an opinion), Bodycount just happened to hit the shelves at the beginning of a period in the gaming year when just about everything under the sun is coming out. Driver: San Francisco came out on the same day, a franchise that has always sold well, as well as Gears of War 3 coming out mere weeks later. Bodycount was quickly submerged in a sea of games that were of a higher development value and, arguably, valued more by the customer.
I think what I'm saying is that the closure of Codemasters Guildford is the fault of bad marketing, not once did I see a trailer for Bodycount anywhere other than dedicated gaming websites, I never saw posters for it, TV spots, nothing. Couple that with the fact that adverts for the other games released during the same time frame were almost literally everywhere, and you're left with a game that's pretty much destined to fail before it's even hit the shelves.
A game could be the best game in the world but, if it's marketed badly, and people don't know it even exists, then it's guaranteed to fail miserably. Normally that means that a game doesn't sell well, big deal, the company goes back, tries again and maybe makes something a little bit more successful next time, this time, however, it's cost the games industry a development studio, something that the UK doesn't have all that many of to begin with. Codemasters Guildford won't be able to just "try again next time", not any more.
I just hope they can all find the jobs they deserve, the put out a game that deserves recognition. It's not magnificent, it's not special, but it deserves to be much more than "the game that put Codemasters Guildford out of business".
It's a sad, sad, time.