|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||5 May 1992|
|Tim Bates (general manager)|
Rockstar Lincoln Limited (formerly Spidersoft Limited and Tarantula Studios) is a British video game developer based in Lincoln, England. The company was founded as Spidersoft, by Steve Marsden, David Cooke and Andrew Hewson in May 1992. At that time, they primarily developed Game Boy and Game Gear ports of various titles, including pinball-style games from publisher 21st Century Entertainment. The publisher acquired Spidersoft in 1995, though shut down in March 1998.
In June 1998, Take-Two Interactive acquired Spidersoft, renaming them Tarantula Studios. The new studio continued working exclusively on Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, either for original concepts or for conversions of other Take-Two Interactive-owned properties, such as Grand Theft Auto (1999). In 2001, the studio was renamed Rockstar Lincoln, and became part of Take-Two Interactive's Rockstar Games label. The studio has since become dedicated to working only on video game localisation and quality assurance for games published by Rockstar Games.
As Spidersoft (1992–1998)
Spidersoft was founded by Steve Marsden and David Cooke, with assistance from Andrew Hewson, on 5 May 1992.:208 Marsden and Cooke had previously developed Technician Ted for ZX Spectrum, which was published by Hewson's Hewson Consultants in 1984.:79 Although Hewson Consultants shut down in 1991, a successor, 21st Century Entertainment, was founded by Hewson just a few weeks after the prior's closure.:187 Spidersoft mostly developed ports or adaptations of other games, predominantly to Game Boy, Game Gear and MS-DOS, including pinball-based video games developed by Digital Illusions and published by 21st Century Entertainment.:208 Following the success of Pinball Fantasies in 1992, and its subsequent ports to other platforms, including Spidersoft's 1995-released ports to Atari Jaguar, Game Boy, PlayStation and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 21st Century Entertainment acquired a controlling stake in Spidersoft.:203 Through the purchase, 21st Century Entertainment aimed at ensuring a steady supply of further pinball games and avoiding the need to rely on third-party contractors, such as Pinball Fantasies developer Digital Illusions, which appeared to want to cease operations in the pinball games niche market.:203 By that time, Spidersoft had around 20 employees.:208 In March 1998, 21 Century Entertainment's British headquarters shut down.
As Tarantula Studios (1998–2002)
On 1 June 1998, Take-Two Interactive announced that they had acquired Spidersoft, which would henceforth be known as Tarantula Studios. As part of the deal, Tarantula Studio would shift its focus on game development solely for Game Boy and Game Boy Color, starting with Montezuma's Return!, In-Fisherman Bass Hunter (unreleased) and an unannounced project for the prior platform, as well as Three Lions and Space Station Silicon Valley for the latter. Notable games developed by Tarantula Studios include Las Vegas Cool Hand (1998), Montezuma's Return! (1998), Rats! (1998), Space Station Silicon Valley (1999), Jim Henson's Muppets (1999), Evel Knievel (1999), Grand Theft Auto (1999), Grand Theft Auto 2 (2000), Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair! (2000), and Austin Powers: Oh, Behave! (2000). Amongst Tarantula Studios' games, some have received very negative reception; on IGN, Evel Knievel and Jim Henson's Muppets each received a review score of 2.0/10, the site's lowest-ever score for a Game Boy Color game, where Evel Knievel was said to be the overall worst game on the platform. Tarantula Studios' last projects under that name were the PlayStation ports of Wildfire Studios' Kiss Pinball and Illusion Softworks' Hidden & Dangerous, both released in 2001 to negative reception.
As Rockstar Lincoln (2002–present)
In 2002, Tarantula Studios became part of Take-Two's Rockstar Games label under the name Rockstar Lincoln. In January 2011, long-time studio head of Rockstar Lincoln, Mark Lloyd, announced that he had resigned from the company. His leaving coincided with that of Mark Washbrook, founder and former studio head of Rockstar London. Rockstar Games reassured that neither departure would affect projects in development at their studios at the time. While Washbrook went on to work with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Lloyd founded his own video game consultancy service, Titanium Consultancy, which was later voluntarily wound down. In May 2012, both Washbrook and Lloyd signed with Activision to work for their mobile-focused Activision Leeds studio. Later renamed The Blast Furnace, the studio also hired Gordon Hall, co-founder and former president of Rockstar Leeds, in August 2012. Lloyd was succeeded by Tim Bates as general manager.
Rockstar Lincoln offers subsided gym memberships to its employees and hosts a "Sports & Social" team, which organises sporting and leisure activities. The studio won the "Active Workplace" award in the Lincolnshire Sports Awards in 2015 and 2016, and was nominated a third time in 2017. Leading up to the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in October 2018, it was revealed that Rockstar Lincoln had, of all other Rockstar Games-owned studios, suffered the worst "crunch time". Both former employees and employees working at the studio at the time reported that testers were paid low wages, had to work long hours and were subjected to strict security regulations. Mandatory overtime for working on Red Dead Redemption allegedly started in August 2017, prior to Rockstar Games entering "official crunch mode" in October 2017. Testers at Rockstar Lincoln were asked to work on evenings and weekends; initially, they would work three nights per week, and later five. Of those working overtime, localisers and lead testers were paid annually, and are thus were not compensated for working additional hours. Meanwhile, regular testers were paid hourly and, depending on how long they worked, earned more than their leads. In response to overtime reports, the studio's management announced in a meeting held on 19 October 2018 that overtime at the studio would from that point on be optional.
- Hewson, Andrew (9 May 2016). Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers (First ed.). Lulu.com. ISBN 9781844991365. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
- "21st Century Entertainment Ltd R.I.P". pcpinball.com. 10 March 1998. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
- Johnston, Chris (28 April 2000). "Take 2 Captures Tarantula". GameSpot. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
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- Harris, Craig (28 June 2000). "Austin Powers: Welcome To My Underground Lair". IGN. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Carle, Chris (29 September 2000). "Austin Powers: Welcome To My Underground Lair". IGN. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Harris, Craig (28 June 2000). "Austin Powers: Oh Behave!". IGN. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Carle, Chris (29 September 2000). "Austin Powers: Oh Behave!". IGN. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
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- Hillier, Brenna (27 January 2011). "Rockstar bids farewell to two studio heads". VG247. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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- Martin, Matt (22 May 2012). "Ex-Rockstar bosses working with Activision Leeds studio". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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- French, Michael (27 January 2011). "Two Rockstar UK dev execs depart". Develop. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
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- Nunneley, Stephany (22 May 2012). "Report – former Rockstar London bosses sign on with Activision Leeds". VG247. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- Orry, James (9 August 2012). "Former head of Rockstar Leeds joins Activision's mobile studio". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- Franklin, Ashley (12 July 2017). "Lincolnshire Sports Awards 2017 - Rockstar face tough competition in quest to make it three in a row". Lincolnshire Live.
- Schreier, Jason (23 October 2018). "Inside Rockstar Games' Culture Of Crunch". Kotaku.
- Kim, Matt (19 October 2018). "Rockstar Lincoln QA Tester Says Overtime is No Longer Mandatory". USgamer.