Codemasters Give Evolution Studios A New Home

 Just a few weeks ago, Evolution Studios was shut down by Sony. Key members of the team told fans that there were some big plans in motion, and today Codemasters has revealed that the once platform-exclusive development team has found a new home with the 30-year veteran based in Southam.

The merger signals the vision of a “UK racing-genre powerhouse” that will house two of the most successful development teams within the UK. Co-founder of Evolution Studios Mick Hocking will become the VP of Product, highlighting that Codies isn’t simply absorbing the staff, but keeping the team as a creative unit that will bring a new IP to the table in the near future. The combined 45 years of industry experience proposes an exciting time for fans of the racing genre: between the two stalwarts, many iconic intellectual properties across both arcade and simulation disciplines have been released.

Driveclub was Evolution Studios' last outing as Sony exclusive. Image courtesy of Meanelf.
Driveclub was Evolution Studios’ last outing as a Sony exclusive. Image courtesy of Meanelf.

From the kitchen table antics of Micro Machines, to the technical proficiency of Colin McRae Rally, and the multi-discipline prowess of Race Driver, Codemasters is as suited as any other parent company to guide Evolution in the direction it wants to chase. Under Sony’s umbrella Evo also gave wildly varying experiences across WRC, Motorstorm and Driveclub.

It seems like a match made in heaven when considering the two companies’ racing IP history, which is something Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier takes very seriously. Talking to Gamesindustry.biz he assures that they want “the team to remain the team that they are”, whilst benefiting from the synergy that both teams working together can provide.

MickHocking
Mick Hocking – new Product of VP can’t wait to get started

Mick Hocking’s comments mirror those from Sagnier, making particular note that the challenge of writing for new platforms excite the team:

“We’ve got the opportunity to write new tech on multiple platforms for the first time, to work on new ideas. It’s really exciting. It’s really the core team we’ve brought across. The core of the Evo team have been together for 15 years and we really love working together.”

Given the current climate of the gaming industry where the ‘big’ players are comfortable in releasing companies like Evolution and Lionhead Studios, it is refreshing to see one of the bigger organizations take on an expansion. The alternative would have been letting a good team go down the hard path through indie development, which has been known to rely heavily on crowd funding and other risky endeavors. Evolution Studios and Codemasters should both benefit from this merger.

How do you feel about this news? What sort of games would you like to see Codemasters and Evolution take on? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks to GamesIndustry.biz for the reveal.

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Comments (36)

  1. 2clickswest

    Exciting news. And even though I don’t want to be all hyped up for the upcoming IP, it is still thrilling.
    I also honestly wish Evo + Codies would have made something like Driveclub but in an open-world. That would work amazingly well in my opinion.

  2. TomBrady

    They better let Evo do the physics. Then maybe Codies games won’t have such garbage gameplay/physics.

  3. Johnnypenso

    Great news for racing game fans all around. Would have been sad to see a good deal of that talent just disappear into the woodwork.

  4. JKgo

    ….Always good to hear people finding work. This seems like a great match, so let’s see what pops out of their oven.

  5. MeanElf

    Nicely put together from the flood of info surfacing since this morning Brend! Thanks once more for using one of my pictures -I do like that one :)

  6. SavageEvil

    “Given the current climate of the gaming industry where the ‘big’ players are comfortable in releasing companies like Evolution and Lionhead Studios, it is refreshing to see one of the bigger organizations take on an expansion.”
    The first part of that statement is insinuation at best, is that really fair and honest statement to make?
    I don’t defend companies but some generalized wording in this article makes insinuations that none of us can back up, but based of history of Sony thus far, do you think it is apt?

    Great to see Evolution Studios was granted a new lease on life, what they come up with next I hope takes on the NFS franchise and crushes it. DriveClub has a nice idea, something with a little more openess and more off road for cars that can take it, courses that are designed to take this into consideration would be really fun. A game that makes you think about vehicle choices and how you face each course would be a breath of fresh air. Doesn’t need to be simulation, just enough to make it believable but still keep that arcade pick up and play fun intact.

    1. Brend

      The wording is apt in my opinion as Sony has got rid of quite a few Western development studios over the past 5 years and don’t seem any worse off as a result of it from a Playstation branding point of view.

      They’ve focused in on other firms they deem more appropriate in the current gaming climate. Hence why they are ‘comfortable’ in decisions like this. Microsoft are a multi-billion organisation who are just as profitable as ever, yet one of the longest standing UK based studios are cut dry before they can release there much hyped E3 frontrunner game.

  7. die996

    Evolution Studios was great when they weren’t man-handled by SONY like they were with both MotorStorm series and DRIVECLUB. Remember the WRC PS2 games? All those were made by Evolution Studios
    WRC3, while unrealistic, had the most mileage I’ve ever seen in a videogame with a full season covering over 550 miles! I know it was “only” like 270 miles of unique roads but even with that it is still the largest rallying game ever… and that game is turning 13 later this year!!!

  8. AudiMan2011

    Although I would’ve preferred to see the Evo team be picked up by Playground Games, I hope something decent comes from this to get me back into CM games.

  9. FS7

    Imo CM should keep release Driveclub content & sequels for casual/arcade players and turn the Grid series into an actual sim that could compete with console games such as Project CARS & Assetto Corsa.
    Grid Autosport had a nice selection of cars & tracks, as well as a good career mode and good options for offline racing but the arcade handling was a turnoff for me.

    1. MeanElf

      Samus is correct – also, Driveclub wasn’t so ‘casual and arcade’ as you seem to be suggesting – true, it was a pick up and play model for the broadest audience, yet for those who wanted to push the challenge further, it’s driving model was far deeper than many realised.

    2. Andyc709292

      @MeanELF – I’d concur with this, I finally bought a PS4 a week ago and got Driveclub as a discount game. I only know it on hardcore with all assists off. Certainly it’s not something you can just rag into every corner and hope.

      Racing a Jag XJ220 up a Chilean mountain pass was a fantastic early game experience and no mistake.

    3. MeanElf

      I remember my first blast along that Chilean highway Andy C – it was a blast alright – get the season pass too, it’ll open so much more content up for you.

    4. Andyc709292

      I did! It’s a bargain when you get the PS+ account, season pass and all.
      I’d heartily recommend it as a cheap purchase of an excellent game.
      I’ll be getting bikes soon enough too, just want to get used to the physics/game first.

    5. TomBrady

      @MeanElf That’s exactly why Driveclub is so superior to anything Codemasters has done. While Codemasters attempts at the simcade market fell completely flat, being to wonky and unnatural for arcade players and simulation fans alike, Driveclub nailed the balance perfectly.

  10. PureAlpha1206

    This is an excellent pickup for CodeMasters. Glad to see the employees at Evolution didn’t completely go unemployed.

  11. dance1211

    With such a powerful development team, maybe we could see what project cars could’ve looked like if it were developed by a competent team.

  12. ZEROTHEKNIGHT

    Codemasters who were behind TOCA series combines with Evolution Studios who made Driveclub … Let’s see how this will turn out :)

    1. die996

      Evolution Studios made one Colin McRae-killer series, the PS2 WRC games. PS2’s WRC3 & WRC4 are better than any CMR game for that console

    2. Andyc709292

      @Die996 – Totally loved those games – cut my gaming teeth on WRC2/3. Used to have friends over and use my steering wheel (remember the blue logitech one!) and a 32″ CRT monster as our gaming cockpit. Happy days that was – we knew we were doing a good run when everyone else stopped talking to watch!

      Actually, I still have the games and console running through component connections – might have to fire up some nostalgia…

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