British game companies

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Michael Ward

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Nov 28, 2000, 2:30:40 AM11/28/00
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Just out of curiosity, could some one tell me the names of a few current,
larger, British game companies, and maybe the strategy game they're most
noted for? I hear about scads of German companies, and a few French, Dutch
and Spanish and even Polish, but next to nothing about British companies.
Sometimes I see a game reviewed in Counter magazine and I think the
publisher might be British, yet often I can't tell if its a company with
only one title or not, or whether they only do cheap Desk Top Publishing
games. Example: Bladder by Purkess Brittain Games in Counter #10. They
appear to be British, but the review gives the impression they only have
about 3 titles. And the company is only 3 years old.

And if there are a few large (I realize that's a relative term) British game
companies, why aren't they heard from more? I can't believe that only
Germans can design award winning games.

Michael Ward
Fort Worth, Texas


Peter Card

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Nov 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/28/00
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Michael Ward wrote:
>
> Just out of curiosity, could some one tell me the names of a few current,
> larger, British game companies, and maybe the strategy game they're most
> noted for?

Gibsons. Er, that's it.

Gibson's haven't published any hobby games for some years now. The most
recent were a bunch of neat little games in seriously nasty boxes,
including Formula Motor Racing (Reiner Knizia) and Turf Horse Racing
(Knizia again) They have also published UK versions of Brittania,
Civilisation, History of the World.

Other UK games companies are mostly one horse operations run by people
who haven't given up their day jobs.

Warfrog (Martin Wallace) are the next closest thing to a big games
company, and have produced "Empires of the Ancient World" and "Way out
West" this year, on show at Essen and now in the shops. With a solid
box, mounted map and professionally printed cards these are a quantum
leap above previous Warfrog games in terms of production quality. And
good games too. Apart from the infamous "white box" series of games
(requiring some heavy duty counter counting), they have also produced
Lords of Creation. They have connections to Winsome Games in the USA,
who have published Martin's excellent "Lancashire Rails"

The Ragnar Brothers produced the original History of the World, the
"teatowel" version, and later did two Lake District walking games, also
using "teatowel" technology.

Tresham Games ~are~ Francis Tresham, the designer of 1829 (and thus
progenitor of the 18xx train game genre) and Civilisation. Francis'
original company was Hartland Trefoil, which he sold to Microprose when
they tidied up the whole vexed Civilisation licencing mess, and Hartland
Trefoil (ie. Microprose (ie. Hasbro)) now licence the rail game 1825
back to Tresham Games. Other Tresham designs include 1830, 1853.


Fiendish Board Games are John Harrington, who has produced a number of
interesting games on a shoestring. See http://www.fbgames.co.uk/

NOTE: This is nothing to do with Fiendish Games , who are a computer
game company

I hear about scads of German companies, and a few French, Dutch
> and Spanish and even Polish, but next to nothing about British companies.
> Sometimes I see a game reviewed in Counter magazine and I think the
> publisher might be British, yet often I can't tell if its a company with
> only one title or not, or whether they only do cheap Desk Top Publishing
> games. Example: Bladder by Purkess Brittain Games in Counter #10. They
> appear to be British, but the review gives the impression they only have
> about 3 titles. And the company is only 3 years old.
>
> And if there are a few large (I realize that's a relative term) British game
> companies, why aren't they heard from more? I can't believe that only
> Germans can design award winning games.
>

There are plenty of, (well a few), British game designers, but the hobby
games market is small, so their work is mostly self published or
produced elsewhere.

--
----------------------------------------------------------
email Peter...@jet.uk || pete...@csi.com
As the Tortoise crosses the line:
"Hello, we are the Hare's lawyers"

Paul Mazumdar

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Nov 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/28/00
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In article <AaJU5.38626$yR4.7...@news1.rdc1.tx.home.com>,
mwar...@home.com says...

> Just out of curiosity, could some one tell me the names of a
> few current, larger, British game companies, and maybe the
> strategy game they're most noted for?

That depends how you'd define large...

For example, Rostherne produced quite a number of different titles
(Railway Rivals, Buss Boss, Mine etc.), but they were all
self-published small runs.

The big family games firms such as Waddingtons, Spears and so forth
have been taken over by the large multinationals like Hasbro and
MB.

The biggest 'remaining' firm is Gibsons, who've done well at
licencing games in a similar manner to Rio Grande (Fair Means or
Foul, Pass the Bomb, Civilisation, History of the World - generally
Gibsons have re-done the whole game rather than using the original
bits) plus a few good titles of their own (Formula Motor Racing,
Turf Horse Racing &c). But even then it's a couple of years since
Gibsons produced anything to get the attention of the hobby market.
They have a web site:
http://www.gibsonsgames.co.uk

> And if there are a few large (I realize that's a relative
> term) British game companies, why aren't they heard from
> more? I can't believe that only Germans can design award
> winning games.

They get their titles published in Germany. Alles fur die Katz,
Morgenland, Dampfross, Hase und Igel, Billabong, Der Weisse Lotus,
und Tschuss, Atlantis, Ballonrennen and many others are designed by
Brits but published in Germany (and, latching on to your "award
winning" comment, two of those are SdJ winners). And, lest I be
accused of being biased towards a particular type of game, I also
ought to point out that 1830, 1870, Civilisation, History of the
World and Assassin are examples of British designers getting
published in the US.

And arguably we can lay claim to Reiner these days.... ;-)

Best wishes,
Paul


Stephen Tavener

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Nov 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/28/00
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Michael Ward <mwar...@home.com> writes:

>Just out of curiosity, could some one tell me the names of a few current,
>larger, British game companies, and maybe the strategy game they're most
>noted for?

A few years ago, we had Spear's, Gibson's, Waddington's, Games Workshop
(of these, I think only GW and Gibson's are still independent.) Going
back further, there were the likes of Intellect and Invicta.

These days we do have a lot of small companies, like WarFrog, R&D Games,
etc. These are usually the showcase of a single designer, who may be
quite prolific.

>I can't believe that only
>Germans can design award winning games.

German designers like Sid Sackson, Eric Solomon, and Alex Randolph? The
Germans don't necessarily design the best games, what they have is a
market for the best games, so many foreign designers find it easier -
and more profitable to publish there than in their native countries.

TTFN,


Stephen
--
Stephen Tavener | There is no such thing
Games bought,sold,traded,played | as "just a cat"
http://www.scat.demon.co.uk/ | - Tanya Huff

Michael Ward

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Nov 28, 2000, 9:52:24 PM11/28/00
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Thank you all for the information.
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