With the headquarters situated in Horsham, Creative Assembly is a staple in the tech corridor and an excellent inspiration to the small tech-start-ups in the area; an area which has come to be known as the UK’s ‘silicon valley’.
In the early days, Creative Assembly ported games to MS-DOS from Amiga and ZX Spectrum platforms and in 1994 ported the first FIFA game to PC for Electronic Arts, the American video game giant.
It wasn’t until 1996 that Creative Assembly entered the strategy games market by doing something radically different at the time – creating historically accurate battles conducted in real time with entire armies displayed in 3D. The cult following the game received was the start of the now multi-million-selling franchise, Total War.
The first Total War title; Shogun: Total War, was released in 2000. Following up the success of the game Creative Assembly established the Total War franchise, spanning historical time periods, and later, the fantasy realm in partnership with Games Workshop on the Total War: WARHAMMER series, cementing the studio as one of the key players in game development in the UK.
While Total War development continues at pace, the second half of the studio has gone on to create the critically-acclaimed Alien: Isolation with Twentieth Century Fox, and Halo Wars 2 with Microsoft and 343 Industries.
Creative Assembly’s focus on quality is rewarded with several BAFTAs and even an Ivor Novello. They say that their success is owed ‘to our team of world-class, diverse and multi-national creatives, who unite to craft some of the most renowned gaming experiences, giving our loyal fans worlds in which to immerse themselves’. Creative Assembly has grown dramatically over the last few years, but it you think the studio is slowing down, you would be mistaken.
The success has allowed the studio to expand and last year Creative Assembly announced the acquisition of Crytek Black Sea and opened its first studio abroad in Bulgaria, re-named to Creative Assembly Sofia.
Over the last year, the studio’s headcount has risen by 37% and is now over 500-people strong, which will facilitate further growth.
Total War: THREE KINGDOMS will be the next major historical title in the Total War strategy series and the first to explore ancient China. Announced in 2018, the other side of the business is currently also working on a brand-new IP.
The gaming market is one that has grown exponentially in the last 20 years and it continues to thrive, with games generating £2.96bn in 2016, 1.3 times the size of the video market (£2.25bn) and 2.6 times the size of music (£1.6bn).
UK games rank among the most popular in the world, with Creative Assembly’s Total War series seeing a franchise record-breaking monthly average of 1.2m global players in 2017.
However, Creative Assembly is not just focused on themselves. The studio runs educational outreach activities in order to train and inspire the next generation of game developers. The Creative Assembly Legacy Project in their words is, a “commitment to inspiring and educating the next generation of games development talent…by making significant and enduring contribution to local education, community and charity. We choose Legacy Project activities that our team care deeply about.”
A programme of activities have been cultivated by the studio with various partners including BAFTA and Ukie, to allow young people to have hands-on development workshops to give them an unrivalled experience of what developing real games is like, inspiring them to take their gaming education to the next level.
In August of last year the studio announced a new partnership with the 16-19 Academy, East London Arts and Music (ELAM) to deliver a new Game Design course, becoming the first course in the UK for Further Education Game Design in which the students follow an industry-developed curriculum.
Creative Assembly’s ambition in pushing the boundaries in game development and working to inspire future generations can serve as inspiration in the thriving tech area in which they are situated.
Whilst not only being a benchmark in the gaming world, here at Whitehill & Bordon we believe they can be a benchmark to all emerging tech start-ups in the area as an example of the heights they can reach with brilliant, creative ideas and hard work.