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The Codemasters Software Company Limited
Electric Games Company Limited (1986)
Traded as LSECDM
Industry Video game industry
Founded 6 August 1986; 32 years ago (1986-08-06)
Founders Richard Darling, David Darling
Headquarters Southam, England
Number of locations
5 studios (2017)
Key people
Frank Sagnier (CEO)[1]
Products List of Codemasters video games
Revenue £104.9 million (2008)
Number of employees
Parent Reliance Entertainment

The Codemasters Software Company Limited (formerly Electric Games Company Limited), doing business as Codemasters, is a British video game developer and publisher founded by David Darling and his brother Richard in 1986. Headquartered in Southam, Warwickshire, Codemasters is one of the oldest British game studios, and in 2005 was named the top independent games developer by Develop magazine.[2]


Early years[edit]

Company logo 1986 to 1991

Established on 6 August 1986 by Richard Darling and David Darling (who worked previously for Mastertronic), Codemasters established themselves in the growing ZX Spectrum market, mostly with action games that required the player to solve simple puzzles by combining different objects, such as the Dizzy series. While rooted in the ZX Spectrum, Codemasters did not write exclusively for this computer. They also released software (including the Dizzy series) for the Commodore 64, Commodore 16, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.

The company originally incorporated as Electric Games Company Limited on 6 August 1986, but reincorporated as The Codemasters Software Company Limited on 18 September 1986.[3]

They were famous for releasing a long series of "Simulator" games, mostly sports simulations (such as BMX Simulator, Grand Prix Simulator and Pro Boxing Simulator). This led to the parody "Advanced Lawnmower Simulator" being developed, praised to the skies and then published by Your Sinclair magazine as an April Fool's Day stunt.[4]

Codemasters were one of a number of software houses in the 1980s that only released low retail price titles. However, in 1992 they began to cut down on the budget releases in favour of full-price titles.[citation needed]

The company developed a reputation for creating highly positive fictitious reviews, which were then included as quotes on the back cover of each game.[5]


As the 8-bit computer market diminished, Codemasters turned to developing for the 8-bit and 16-bit console markets, as well as moving away from their budget title legacy to more full-price games on the 16-bit computers — 1993 saw the last title in the budget Dizzy series, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, although they released a full-price Dizzy game, Fantastic Dizzy later. They had major success with the Micro Machines series and Pete Sampras Tennis on the Sega Mega Drive. Both franchises featured the J-Cart, allowing two extra controllers to be attached to the game cart without requiring Electronic Arts' 4 way play or SEGA's four player adaptor.

Codemasters is notable for making the large majority of games published by Camerica,[citation needed] which bypassed Nintendo's lock-out chip by glitching it and produced unlicensed NES games. These NES games were known for being shiny gold and silver cartridges that were slightly different from normal NES cartridges in shape, though they still fit into the cartridge slot. Many Codemasters titles were also featured on Camerica's Aladdin Deck Enhancer.

In 1990, Codemasters developed a device called the Power Pak, later renamed the Game Genie. It was a cheat cartridge for the NES, released in the US by Galoob and in Canada and the UK by Camerica. In an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit, Nintendo sued Galoob in the case Galoob v. Nintendo, claiming that the Game Genie created derivative works in violation of copyright law.[6]

Company logo, 1991 to 2007

In an effort to establish themselves in the United States, they announced that they would launch a new development studio in Oakhurst, using offices that were abandoned Sierra On-Line and hiring much of Yosemite Entertainment's laid off staff in mid-September 1999.

1998 - 2008[edit]

Between 1998 and 2003, Codemasters dominated one area of game console entertainment when they teamed up with Jester Interactive Limited to publish their range of music creation software, for PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PC, namely MUSICtm, Music 2000, MTV Music Generator and MTV Music Generator 2. In 2003 this partnership was dissolved, with Jester releasing their own Music 3000 product. Codemasters released their final music based product called MTV Music Generator 3 in 2004.

Codemasters have since continued to release titles for later generation systems, such as the TOCA series, Colin McRae Rally series, Brian Lara Cricket series and Operation Flashpoint. They currently[when?] own the rights to use the title Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, but have parted with the original developer Bohemia Interactive Studio. In spite of this, Codemasters released Operation Flashpoint: Elite, developed by Bohemia, for Xbox in October 2005. The year 2005 also saw the appointment of Rod Cousens, formerly of Acclaim, as Managing Director.

In April 2007, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group entered into a game distribution agreement with Codemasters to distribute the company's titles in North America ending May 2008.[7] Also in April, Codemasters launched the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar in Europe on behalf of Turbine. In June, Codemasters were purchased by equity group Balderton Capital[8] and they changed their logo to an interlocked metallic C and M. Later that month they released the latest in the Colin McRae Rally series, Colin McRae: Dirt. They also published Overlord and Clive Barker's Jericho. Following the death of Colin McRae on 15 September 2007, Codemasters released a public statement expressing their sorrow and support for the family.[9]

In March 2008, Codemasters announced a new partnership with Majesco Entertainment which will focus on titles for DS and Wii, including Nanostray 2, Toy Shop, Cake Mania 2 and Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society for DS, and Wild Earth: African Safari, Our House and Cake Mania for Wii.[10] In May, it was announced that Codemasters had won the rights to the Formula One licence after Sony's deal ran out. The first resulting game, F1 2009, was released on the Wii and PlayStation Portable in Autumn 2009,[11] and another similar game, F1 2010, on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2010. The game is based on the Dirt, Grid and Dirt 2 engine.

On 8 April 2008, Sega announced the closure of Sega Racing Studio, although no reason was specified it has been assumed it was due to lackluster sales of Sega Rally Revo. At a later time Sega announced none of the employees were folded into internal studios.[12] On 25 April 2008, Codemasters bought Sega Racing Studio.[13] The studio was headed by Guy Wilday, who was involved in the Colin McRae Rally games[14] and was formerly the series producer.[15]

Notable also in 2008 was the Darlings' recognition in the Queen's Birthday Honours, as both were appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the computer games industry.[16]

Present day[edit]

On 5 April 2010, Reliance Big Entertainment, an Indian company acquired a 50% stake in the company.[17] Later in 2010, Codemasters launched the free-to-play version of Lord of the Rings Online. While originally scheduled for 10 September, it was delayed due to contractual reasons and launched on 2 November.[18] In May 2011, Codemasters transferred control of the European Lord of the Rings Online to Turbine, Inc.. On 3 June 2011, the website was breached. It is believed that the attacker was able to gain access to the personal information of registered users with Codemasters accounts. Codemasters notified its users about the attack via email on 10 June 2011, after which their websites were pulled down and users redirected to their Facebook page.[19]

In mid-2012, it was announced that Codemasters' racing games, whether about to be produced or developed, would begin to be branded under the 'Codemasters Racing' label. Dirt: Showdown and F1 2012 were the first racing titles to receive the new label name. The label was discontinued in 2016, as Codemasters' latest racing games, Dirt Rally and F1 2016 are branded with the regular Codemasters logo.

On 9 June 2013, Reliance Entertainment increased its stake in Codemasters from 50% to 60.41%, making it the majority owner.[20]

In April 2015 Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens left to join Jagex, leaving COO Frank Sagnier as the new Temporary CEO.[21] In April 2016, Codemasters announced that they had hired most of the staff of racing game developer Evolution Studios after Sony closed the company.[22]

The first Codemasters title for eighth generation consoles was F1 2015, launched in July 2015. In October 2015 they released Overlord: Fellowship of Evil, their first non-racing game since 2011 and the last as of May 2018, not counting Onrush, which shares many aspects with racing games but is specifically in the separate vehicular combat genre.




  1. ^ a b Maxwell, Ben (27 April 2017). "Studio Profile: Codemasters". Edge. No. 306. pp. 80–83. 
  2. ^ Codemasters ‘on top of the world’ as top 100 games developers league is revealed Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Games Industry Biz, 6 May 2005
  3. ^ "CODEMASTERS SOFTWARE COMPANY LIMITED(THE) - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Archived from the original on 1 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Advanced Lawnmower Simulator". 10 August 2014. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Your Sinclair issue 41, Dennis Publishing, May 1989, page 50 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  6. ^ "964 F.2d 965: Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc., v. Nintendo of America, Inc.,". Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Fahey, Mike. "Warner Bros. To Distribute Codemasters Games". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Balderton Capital buys out founders of Codemasters, company receives £50m funding from Goldman Sachs". 14 June 2007. 
  9. ^ "Codemasters release statement regarding Colin McRae's Death". Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Codemasters unveils Majesco partnership Archived 10 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. - MCV 6 March 2008
  11. ^ "Codemasters Home - Codemasters". 
  12. ^ "Sega Racing Studio closed - news". Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Ryan Geddes. "Codemasters Buys SEGA Racing Studio". IGN. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Guy Wilday". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Published, Gestalt (29 July 2002). "Guy Wilday of Codemasters Interview /// Eurogamer". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "Central Chancery Of The Orders Of Knighthood" (PDF). BBC News. 
  17. ^ Hinkle, David (5 April 2010). "Reliance Big Entertainment acquires 50% stake in Codemasters". Joystiq. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  18. ^ The Lord of the Rings Online now Free to Play in Europe!, Codemasters, 2 November 2010, archived from the original on 9 November 2010, retrieved 2 November 2010 
  19. ^ Codemasters Websites Pointing To Facebook Page Following Hack Attack Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. (19 June 2011). Retrieved on 23 August 2013.
  20. ^ Reliance takes stake in Codemasters video games Archived 16 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Telegraph. Retrieved on 23 August 2013.
  21. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (2 April 2015). "Codemasters boss Rod Cousens leaves for Runescape developer". Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Evolution Studios joins Codemasters, Hocking becomes VP of product". Archived from the original on 1 October 2016. 

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