The demise of the iconic Leamington-based computer games developer Blitz Games does not mean bad news for the town, says the 23-year-old firm’s chief executive.
Philip Oliver, who - with his twin brother Andrew Oliver - co-founded the company behind scores of popular games including SpongeBob Squarepants and The Biggest Loser series, was speaking to the Courier after announcing that Blitz Games had gone into voluntary liquidation last Thursday (September 12).
The news meant that all 175 people employed at the town centre-based firm - including Mr Oliver - lost their jobs.
But on the very same day, Mr Oliver announced that he was setting up a new company to continue working on two financially robust projects and offered 50 jobs to staff among those made redundant.
And he is confident that the other “talented” individuals will not be without a job for long. He told the Courier: “Trading has been difficult for a year or so. By last week, we had run out of options.
“We did not want this to happen, but the Blitz employees are such talented people that I genuinely believe that there will only be a handful of them who are not back in jobs by the end of September.”
Explaining why the firm was forced into this position, Mr Oliver said: “The business world is changing for all businesses, but in the games industry - like in the music industry - there are a lot of changes.
“The old consoles have gone into decline and new consoles have taken a long time to arrive, so there are few development contracts being offered.
“A big company with 175 employees is a lot of people to find work for in this market.”
But Mr Oliver does not believe that the games industry as a whole is in decline. He said: “There are some really exciting and new areas.
“It might sound strange to say, but if anything, this will make Leamington a bigger and better place for the games industry.
“There will be several new start-ups that will be formed by people who have been made redundant. But also the games companies around us will strengthen and we have heard of at least one based elsewhere looking to set up a division in Leamington.”
Oxford-based developer Rebellion made 25 job offers on the very day Blitz ceased trading, while other firms in the industry were also quick to pounce on Blitz’s staff.
Mr Oliver added: “Everybody will be fine. We hope to have this new company up and running as soon as possible and to get everyone back in jobs as quickly as possible.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, who has spoken several times of the successes of ‘Silicon Spa’, said: “I am very saddened by the loss. My thoughts are with the people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
“I still very much believe in the concept of Silicon Spa. We have a good number of businesses in the industry which will hopefully be able to absorb some of those talented individuals.
“We are a centre for creativity for the industry and we have a strong heritage and a strong future to come.”