Ex-Black Rock staff return to Climax
Portsmouth-based Climax Studios has hired staff left jobless by the closure of Black Rock, the Split/Second and Pure developer that was formed following the sale of Climax Racing to Disney Interactive in 2006.
Disney closed Black Rock in July, having made some 100 staff redundant a couple of months beforehand, leaving a team of just 40 who ultimately failed to get a project green-lit. Now, Climax has stepped in and hired the six staff pictured above – Martyn Taylor, Craig Moore, Ian Hudson, Ralph Tittensor, Chris Bowles and Tom Geddes – as well as Will Myles and, as a contractor, Jay Bell. Six of those eight staff were employed by Climax when the Racing Studio was sold to Disney.
"We are very pleased to be able to welcome these guys back to the Climax fold," CEO Simon Gardner tells us, explaining that he does not regret the sale despite Black Rock's eventual closure. "At the time it seemed entirely the right thing to do for both Climax as a whole and Climax Racing.
"We do have immense sympathy for the talented staff there, and the final outcome is a shame, but with the apparent decline in the racing sector it may have happened if they were still part of our group."
The capital raised from the sale, Gardner says, not only meant stability and security but fostered creativity. "When we signed [2010 Wii title] Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, we made a conscious decision to make it the best game we could within the platform and time constraints," he explained. "We tried to give the team everything they needed to make the best game they could.
"That included trying new ideas, ways of telling narrative, lighting and shadow technology for the Wii and even risky gameplay experiences. Not everything paid off, and we were still constrained by time, but it really was a crucial point for us."
In a year which has seen the demise of a number of UK studios, with many of those remaining streamlining and shifting to the low-risk, high-reward opportunities found in the mobile and social sectors, Climax is an exception. It currently has 120 staff on its books, is still hiring, and has several console titles in development.
But that does not mean it has dismissed emerging markets. "We haven't ignored the opportunities of new distribution methods," Gardner explains, "and will be announcing a title that we have developed for PC and iOS in the next few months."