One of Scotland and the UK’s most important games development firms, Realtime Worlds, has gone into administration.
Few beyond the games industry will have heard of the company, or know that it is based in Dundee, but it is connected through its founder, David Jones, to several globally famous games, including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.
The latter games came out of defunct but influential company DMA design, founded in Dundee in the late 1980s by Jones and Mike Dailly, and which went on to create Lemmings, one of the most remembered games of the era. The company also came up with Grand Theft Auto, nowadays one of the industry’s biggest console franchises.
As Scotland’s largest games development outfit, until recent lay-offs employing 250 people, its possible demise would be a technological disaster to match the worst days in the decline of silicon glen.
Problems seem to have come to a head with the failure of the company’s latest online game, APB (All Points Bulletin), to find a big enough audience. Administrators will now attempt to find a buyer for the company, although it seems unlikely that Realtime’s best developers will hang around long enough to make this a viable option.
"As the jewel in the crown of Dundee's computer games development sector, Realtime Worlds epitomises the creativity and determination of the entire Scottish industry,” the BBc quoted Professor Bernard King of Abertay University as saying. "It is unfortunate that market conditions have dictated this drastic step."
In June, new chancellor George Osbourne abandoned tentative plans by the previous administration to introduce an R&D tax break on games development, although tax does not appear to have at the core of Realtime's troubles.