Type Private
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1986
Headquarters Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Key people Richard Darling, David Darling, Jim Darling, Anil Ambani
Products Dizzy, Micro Machines, Brian Lara Cricket, TOCA/Grid, Colin McRae Rally/Dirt, LMA Manager, Operation Flashpoint, Overlord
Employees 800
Website Official website

The Codemasters Software Company Limited, or Codemasters (earlier known as Code Masters) is a British video game developer founded by Richard and David Darling in 1986. Codemasters is one of the oldest British game studios, and in 2005 was named as the top independent games developer by Develop Magazine.[1]



Company logo, 1986 to 1991

Founded in 1986 by Richard 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 Codemasters found their roots in the ZX Spectrum, they did not exclusively write for this one 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.

They were famous for releasing a long series of "Simulator" games, mostly sports simulations. 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.[citation needed]

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 favor of full-price titles.[citation needed]

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.

Company logo, 1991 to 2007

In the early 1990s, the studio was the focus of an episode of It's a Living, a regional ITV program that examined unusual careers and companies. The show was able to examine the inner workings of the offices and was primarily concentrated on the development of Cosmic Spacehead, plus the marketing efforts surrounding it.

Console modifications

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[citation needed].

Music software

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.

Recent history

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

Codemasters have since continued to release titles for later generation systems, such as the TOCA Touring Car series, Colin McRae Rally series, Brian Lara Cricket series and Operation Flashpoint. They currently 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. June 2006 saw the release of Sensible Soccer 2006.

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.[2]

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 2007 Codemasters were purchased by equity group Balderton Capital[3] 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.[4]

In March 2008, Codemasters announced a new deal with Majesco. The new partnership 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.[5]

On 9 May 2008, it was announced that Codemasters had won the rights to the Formula One license after Sony's deal ran out. Codemasters released their first Formula One game, F1 2009,[6] on the Wii and PlayStation Portable in Autumn 2009, and another similar game, F1 2010, on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2010. The game is based on the Dirt 2 engine.

On 8 April 2008, Sega announced the closure of Sega Racing Studio, although no reason was specified for the closure 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.[7] On 25 April 2008, Codemasters bought Sega Racing Studio.[8] The studio was headed by Guy Wilday, who was involved in the Colin McRae Rally games[9] and was formerly the head of the studio behind the games and the series producer.[10]

Notable also in 2008 was the Darlings' participation in the Queen's Birthday Honours of that year, as both were appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the computer games industry.[11]

On 5 April 2010, Reliance Big Entertainment, an Indian company acquired a 50% stake in the company.[12]

Later in 2010, Codemasters launched the Free-to-play version of Lord of the Rings Online. While originally scheduled for September 10, it was delayed due to contractual reasons and launched on 2 November.[13]

In late 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[14].


  • Codemasters Studio Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, founded September 2006. A partnership between Codemasters UK and Malaysia's Vision New Media Sdn Bhd. The first game this studio contributed to was Race Driver Grid.
  • Sega Racing Studio, purchased from SEGA.
  • Codemasters Birmingham, acquired from Swordfish Studios in November 2008.[15] Developers of F1 2010 and F1 2011. Located in Tricorn House, Edgbaston.
  • Codemasters Southam
  • Codemasters Guildford, On September 2011, Codemasters announced that they are planning to shut down the studio due to the disappointing sales of Bodycount.[16]


Supersonic Software Ltd. is a UK based independent games developer established in 1989. Supersonic Software consisted of programmer Peter Williamson, graphics artist Neil Adamson, Chris Graham, Lyndon Sharp and David Whittaker. Their games include BMX Freestyle (1989), Moto Cross Simulator (1989), Street Gang Football (1989), Super Car Trans Am (1989), Italian Supercar (1990)[17] and Micro Machines 2.



  1. ^ Codemasters ‘on top of the world’ as top 100 games developers league is revealed, Games Industry Biz, 6 May 2005
  2. ^ Mike Fahey. "Warner Bros. To Distribute Codemasters Games". Kotaku. 
  3. ^ "PRESS RELEASE: Balderton Capital buys out founders of Codemasters, company receives £50m funding from Goldman Sachs". 2007-06-14. 
  4. ^ Codemasters release statement regarding Colin McRae's Death
  5. ^ Codemasters unveils Majesco partnership - MCV 6 March 2008
  6. ^ Codemasters secures official FORMULA ONE video game licence - product line to be jewel in racing game crown.
  7. ^ Sega Racing Studio closed - news -
  8. ^ Ryan Geddes. "Codemasters Buys SEGA Racing Studio". IGN. 
  9. ^ MobyGames - Guy Wilday
  10. ^ Guy Wilday of Codemasters Interview /// Eurogamer
  11. ^ "Central Chancery Of The Orders Of Knighthood". BBC News. 
  12. ^ Hinkle, David (2010-04-05). "Reliance Big Entertainment acquires 50% stake in Codemasters". Joystiq. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  13. ^ The Lord of the Rings Online™ now Free to Play in Europe!, Codemasters, 2010-11-02,, retrieved 2010-11-02 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Crossley, Rob (14 November 2008). "Codemasters Acquires Swordfish Birmingham". Edge Magazine. 
  16. ^ "Codemasters planning Bodycount studio closure". Gamespot. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Supersonic Software Ltd (UK)". World of Spectrum.^Supersonic+Software+Ltd$&loadpics=1. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 

External links

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