Notable Dates in UK Games Industry History
Help us complete this list of notable dates in the UK games industry history by submitting any suggestions you have via this online form.
- 1 1950s
- 2 1960s
- 3 1970s
- 4 1980s
- 5 1990s
- 6 2000s
- 7 2010s
- 8 2020s
- Following the second world war and his groundbreaking work on cracking the enigma machine, Alan Turing develops a chess-playing program
- For a post-war festival celebrating British contributions to science and technology, a computer was developed that could play the game Nim, a mathematical game in which players take turn to remove matches.
- OXO (or Noughts and Crosses) was developed by A.S Douglas for the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC), one of the first games developed in the early history of video games.
- 14th October - The British Computer Society (now known as BCS, The Chartered Institute for I.T.) is founded promote the study, practice and advance the knowledge of computing.
- 25th July - Clive Sinclair founds Sinclair Radionics in Cambridge, developing hi-fi products, radios, calculators and scientific instruments, a precursor to his computer company Sinclair Research.
- 1st April - The Magnavox Odyssey, the first video game console, is released in the UK.
- Roy Trubshaw, a student at the University of Essex, started working on a multi-user adventure game in the MACRO-10 assembly language for a DEC PDP-10. He named the game MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). Deveopment was completed in 1980 by fellow student Richard Bartle.
- Games Workshop, famous for selling Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer tabletop games, is founded.
- 29th January - The Sinclair ZX80 personal computer was launched by Sinclair Research Ltd of Cambridge.
- 5th March - The ZX81, Sinclair Research's pioneering British home computer, was released.
- May - The Commodore VIC-20 is released in the US and Europe.
- 1st December - The BBC Micro, designed and built by the Acorn Computer company for the BBC, is released.
- January - The Commodore 64 is launched worldwide.
- 23rd February - Argonaut Games was founded in Colindale, London. It was most notable for the development of the Super NES video game Star Fox and its supporting Super FX hardware
- 23rd April - The Sinclair ZX Spectrum is released by Sinclair Computers.
- August - The Dragon 32 home computer was released for sales in the European market by Dragon Data Ltd, but with limited graphics capabilities it struggled to compete against the more popular ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro home computers.
- 17th September - Imagine Software was founded in Liverpool byt formeer members of Bug-Byte. The short-lived company achieved nationwide notoriety when it was filmed by a BBC documentary crew while in the process of going bust.It would later be referenced in Bandersnatch, Netflix's interactive espisode of Black Mirror,
- The American video game crash of 1983 occurs, having a significant knock-on impact on the British games industry.
- 1st August - Manic Miner, developed by Matthew Smith, was released by Bug-Byte for the ZX Spectrum.
- Virgin Games was founded. It would later become Virgin Interactive Entertainment, the video game publishing division of the Virgin Group. The company grew significantly afer acquiring Mastertronic in 1987.
- 12th April - The Amstrad CPC 464 was released in the UK. The first personal home computer built by Amstrad, it was one of the bestselling microcomputers of the era with more than 2 million units sold in Europe.
- 20th September - Elite, the space trading game written and developed by David Braben and Ian Bell, is published by Acornsoft for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers.
- Acme Software was founded in Dundee. It would later rebrand as DMA Deisgn and produce many well-known titles across the Amiga, Atari ST and Commodores 64, including the smash hit Lemmings. In 2001, following the release of Grand Theft Auto III, DMA Design was renamed Rockstar North and became part of the Rockstar Games label.
- April - Rare Limited is founded in Twycross, Leicestershire and would go on to have a long history of critically acclaimed and globally successful titles, including Battletoads, Goldeneye 007, Donkey Kong Country and Sea of Thieves.
- June - Atari release the Atari 520ST, the first of their successful ST series of home computers.
- 23rd June - Commodore release the Amiga 1000, the first of the Amiga home computers.
- 3rd July - Psygnosis was founded in Wavertree Technology Park, Liverpool.
- 1st September - The Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the NES, is released in the UK.
- October - Codemasters, one of the oldest active British game studios, founded by brothers Richard and David Darling.
- May - Commodore launch their best-selling Amiga 500, the first low-end Commodore Amiga 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer.
- June - The first game of the Dizzy series is created, proving to be a commercial smash hit and one of the first long term video game franchises.
- 18th August - Creative Assembly, one of the largest studios in the UK and creators of the Total War franchise and Alien Isolation, is founded in Horsham, West Sussex by Tim Ansell.
- Bullfrog Productions was founded in Guildford by Peter Molyneux and Les Edgar. The company went on to achieve a string of hits, including Theme Park, Magic Carpet, Syndicate and Dungeon Keeper.
- 13th May - Core Design, developers of the original Tomb Raider titles, is founded in Derby by former employees of Gremlin Graphics.
- October - Eurocom was founded in Derby. The studio was mainly known for its arcade to console ports and games based on licensed properties.
- March - Tim Berners-Lee lays out his vision for what would become the web in a document called “Information Management: A Proposal”.
- 5th June - Bullfrog Productions releases Populous on the Amiga. The game would go on to sell over 4 million copies, becoming one of the biggest-selling PC games of all time.
- 27th July - Guerilla Cambridge, initially known as Millennium Interactive Ltd, is founded. The company was best known for producing the MediEvil series.
- 6th September - Ukie, then known as ELSPA, is founded - the first trade association for the video games industry anywhere in the world.
- Traveller's Tales, best known as the developers of the LEGO games franchise, is founded in Knutsford, Cheshire.
- September - The Nintendo Game Boy is released across Europe.
- 7th December - Team 17 is founded in Wakefield. The company has produced many well known titles, most notbaly including the Worms series.
- 14th February - Lemmings is released on the Amiga by DMA Design. One of the best-selling games of all time, it is estimated to have sold around 20 million copies.
- April/June - The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the SNES, is released in Europe.
- May - The first game in the Sensible Soccer series is released
- 10th July - The Phillips CD-i is released across Europe. The "interactive multimedia CD player" would become seen as a commercial failure, estimated to have lost Philips as much as $1bn in the American market.
- Criterion Games, best known for the Burnout series, is founded in Guildford.
- 11th June - The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, often called the 3DO, is released across Europe. The console's comparably high price prevented it achiving the same success as the SEGA and Nintendo's conosles of the same era.
- January - Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is established in London.
- 1st June - Team 17 releases Worms across multiple formats, incluing the Amiga, CD32 and Mega Drive. The original entry in the series would go on to sell more than 5 million copies and spawned over 20 sequels over the next 20 years.
- 21st July - Nintendo's Virtual Boy was released in Japan. The first ever console to utilise stereoscopic 3D graphics, it failed to meet sales tarets and was eventually discontinued after only 22 games. While later released in North America, the console was never made available to the European market.
- 29th September - Sony Computer Entertainment release the first PlayStation console in Europe.
- 29th September - Psygnosis's futuristic racing game Wipeout was released as a launch title for Sony's new PlayStation console. As well as the game's positive reviews and controversial marketing, Wipeout was also famous for its unique techno and electronica soundtrack.
- August - Launch of Develop, a monthly UK trade magazine for the UK video game industry. It closed in December 2017, eventually merging with MCV to become the combined MCV/Develop brand.
- 7th Septmeber - SEGA opens SegaWorld London in London's Trocadero complex in Picadilly Circus. It was the largest indoor arcade in Europe, with 10,200m² of floorspace over seven floors.
- 25th October - Tomb Raider, the first game in the best-selling Tomb Raider franchise, is released worldwide by Eidos Interactive and UK developer Core Design. It would go on to sell over 7 million copies globally and and continues to be cited as one of the greatest video games ever made.
- March - Nintendo's N64 console is released in Europe.
- 20th June - Carmageddon is released by Stainless Games. The controversial game was partly censored upon released and even banned in some countries. After successfully appealing, the uncensored version was released in the UK ten months later. The series would go on to sell around two million copies.
- July - Lionhead Studios is founded by Peter Molyneux, Mark Webley, Tim Rance, and Steve Jackson. It would go on to produce the hit Fable and Black & White series.
- 25th August - GoldenEye 007, developed for the N64 console by UK company Rare, is released.
- 17th July - Rare released Banjo Kazooie, both a critical and commercial success.
- 15th July - Codemasters release the hugely successful Colin McRae Rally for the PlayStation, which would go on to sell over 4 million units across all formats.
- 29th October - The first Bafta Interactive Entertainment Awards take place, with Stephen Fry presenting ‘Best Computer Game’ to Rare’s GoldenEye 007.
- 27th March - The first Insomnia Gaming Festival, Insomnia99, run by Multiplay, brings together a reported 300 PC gamers for the UK's then largest ever LAN party.
- April - Free Radical Deign Ltd, most notable for the Timesplitters series was founded in Nottingham. The studio would later be bought by German developer Crytek and renamed Crytek UK, before eventually closing in 2014.
- 20th April - Racing game specialists Evolution Studios, creators of the World Rally Championship and MotorStorm series, were founded in Runcorn, Cheshire.
- 25th June - Newcastle's Reflections Interactive (later Ubisoft Reflection) released the critically-acclaimed Driver for Sony's PlayStation.
- 14th October - SEGA release their Dreamcast console across Europe, launching the "sixth generation" of game consoles.
- March - Ninja Theory (initially known as Just Add Monsters Ltd), creators of the multi-BAFTA winning Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, were founded in Cambridge.
- 28th April - Jagex, creators of one of the world's largest massively multiplayer online roleplay games, Runescape, are founded in Cambridge.
- 13th June - Creative Assembly releases Shogun: Total War, the first game in the long-running Total War series.
- November - Sony Computer Entertainment release the PlayStation 2 in Europe.
- 24th November - Timesplitters by Free Radical Design is released in Europe for the PlayStation 2.
- 4th January - Jagex release the original version of Runescape (now known as Runescape Classic) for Windows PC.
- 30th March - Lionhead release God-simulator Black & White worldwide for Windows PC.
- 30th April - Multiplayer first-person shooter specialists Splash Damage were founded in London.
- June - Nintendo's Game Boy Advance is released in Europe.
- 22nd October - Rockstar Games release Grand Theft Auto III.
- The first MCV/Develop awards take place, celebrating the success of UK publishers, retail and distribution.
- 14 March - Microsoft release the Xbox console in Europe.
- May - The Nintendo GameCube is released in Europe.
- 29th Oct 2002 - Rockstar Games releases Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
- 24th September - Microsoft acquires Twycross-based developer Rare Ltd for $375m.
- 18th November - Eurocom releases James Bond 007: Nightfire, achieving “Platinum” sales in the UK.
- 11th December - Sony's SCE London Studio and Team Soho releases The Getaway for the PlayStation 2. The game is especially notable for its realistic re-creation of large areas of London.
- 9th April - The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) video game content rating system is launched. The PEGI system is now used in 39 countries. more detials on the number of games rated each year is available here.
- 31st July - Derby-based Core Design loses the rights to develop future Tomb Raider games, as parent company Eidos shifts development to California-based Crystal Dynamics.
- 11th September - Valve releases the PC-based digital distribution platform Steam worldwide.
- 3rd October - Nokia releases the N-Gage, one of the first major attempts to combine a mobile phone and a handheld game system.
- Sumo Digital, a prolific developer of games across multiple platforms is is founded in Sheffield. The studio would grow to become one of the UK's largest developers, employing over 500 people across multiple sites.
- February - The first British Academy Games Awards takes place.
- 21 May - Sony London Studio releases SingStar for the PlayStation 2. The series would go on to achieve over 17.5m units.
- 14th September - Lionhead releases Fable worldwide, the first game in the successful Fable franchise.
- 26th October - Rockstar Games releases Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
- 5th November - Sports Interactive releases Football Manager 2005, the first of the popular football manager series to be released after splitting from the previous Championship Manger brand.
- March - Nintendo's handheld DS console is released in Europe.
- 1st September - Sony Computer Entertainment releases the PlayStation Portable handheld console across Europe.
- 12th October - Rag Doll Kung Fu was the first third party game released on Steam. It was created predominantly by artist Mark Healey, while working for Lionhead Studio.
- 18th October - Rebellion Developments releases the first game in the Sniper Elite series.
- 2nd December - Microsoft release the Xbox 360 console in Europe.
- 7th December - The Ask About Games website is launched by industry body ELSPA (now known as Ukie), providing information to parents and carers about the video games age ratings system used in the UK.
- 4th January - Media Molecule, creators of the LittleBigPlanet franchise, is founded in Guildford, Surrey.
- November / December - The Nintendo Wii is released in Europe.
- 23rd March - Sony Computer Entertainment release the PlayStation 3 in Europe.
- 19th June - The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) bans Rockstar Games' Manhunt 2 across the UK. It would eventually be approved by the BBFC for release on 31st October 2008 with an 18 certificate.
- 23rd June - Apple launch the iPhone worldwide.
- 20th Septmeber - Sony Computer Entertainment acquires Evolution Studios and Bigbig Studios.
- 26th September - Activision acquires Bizarre Creations, known for the Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars series.
- The Chinese Room, creators of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture founded in Brighton.
- February - Hello Games is founded in Guildford.
- 28th October - The first Eurogamer Expo, now known as EGX and the largest single games event in the UK, takes place at the Truman Brewery in London, attended by 4,000 people.
- November - Playground Games, developers of the Forza Horizon franchise, is founded in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
- November - The first Android-enabled smartphone, the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream) is released in the UK.
- 2009 was when game profits in UK exceeded those from film for the first time (source?)
- June - The all-party Parliamentary group for the computer and videogames industry was founded, chaired by Bill Olner MP, with Lord Puttnam and John Whittingdale MP as vice-chairs. The group continues today as the APPG for Video Games and Esports.
- 26th February - The new £36.2m inner-city Derby ring road is renamed Lara Croft Way following overwhelming support in a public vote.
- 19th March - ELSPA announces its name change to Ukie (the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment).
- 4th November - Microsoft launches the Kinect, an infra-red camera for the Xbox 360 that can track players body movements. It becomes the fastest-selling consumer device to date, selling more than 8 million units in a 60 day period.
- February / March - The Nintendo 3DS is released in Europe.
- 20th February - Peter Molyneux opens new game development studio 22Cans in Guildford.
- 22nd February - Sony Computer Entertianment releases the PlayStation Vita handheld console across Europe.
- 9th May - An Xbox 360 version of Minecraft is released, developed by 4J Studios.
- 30th July - The PEGI age rating system becomes legally enforceable in the UK.
- 22nd August - Sony Computer Entertainment officially closes SCE Studio Liverpool, founded in 1984 as Psygnosis and best known for the Wipeout series.
- November / December - The Nintendo Wii U is released in Europe.
- 25th June - The Ouya was released worldwide. The Android-based microconsole was a Kickstarter success, raising $8.5m, however underperforming post-release sales saw the unit discontinued in 2015.
- 17th September - Grand Theft Auto v is released by Rockstar Games and becomes the fasting-selling entertainment product in history, grossing over $1bn in three days. To date, it has sold over 100 million copies and is considered the most profitable entertainment product of all time.
- 22nd November - Microsoft release the Xbox One in Europe.
- 29th November - Sony Interactive Entertainment release the PlayStation 4 in Europe.
- 30th January - The Chancellor, George Osborne, officially launches the video games tax relief (VGTR).
- 1st April - The Uk's video games tax relief officially comes into effect.
- 5th April - HTC and Valve Corporation release the HTC Vive, a high-end virtual reality head-mounted display offering "room scale" tracking technology, allowing the user to move in 3D space and use motion-tracked handheld controllers to interact with the environment.
- 27th November - Samsung release the Gear VR, their head-mounted visrtual reality display designed to incorporate Samsung Galaxy mobile phones.
- 22nd March - Sony announces the closure of Evolution Studios. However, the Evolution Studios team would join Codemasters less than a month later on 11th April, forming Codemasters EVO.
- 28th March - Oculus release the Oculus Rift, one of the first major virtual reality head-mounted displays.
- 9th August - Hello Games releases No Man's Sky, featuring a procedurally-generated universe, comprising over 18 quintillion planets.
- 27th September - Playground Games releases Forza Horizon 3 worldwide and would go on to sell over 2.5 million copies.
- 13th October - Sony releases PlayStation VR (also known as PSVR), a virtual reality head-mounted display for the PlayStation 4.
- 12th January - Sony closes Guerilla Cambridge.
- 3rd March - The Nintendo Switch is released worldwide.
- 4rd April - The inaugural Digital Schoolhouse esports tournament culminates with the Grand Final at Gfinity's arena in London, the first immersive careers education event of its kind.
- 8th August - Ninja Theory release the multi-BAFTA winning Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Most notably, the game featured a credible and well-received depiction of psychosis, constructed in collboration with neuroscientists, mental health specialists and people suffering from the condition.
- January - UK video games trade magazines Develop and Esports Pro are merged with sister trade magazine MCV. The combined publication would eventually be rebranded to MCV/Develop in October 2019.
- 2nd January - Sumo Digital acquires CCP Games' Newcastle studio of 34 staff, developers of EVE Valkyrie after CCP indicates a move away from VR content.
- 15th May - Hanger 13 opens a new studio in Brighton.
- 8th / 10th June - The Rocket League World Championship Finals take place in London at the Copper Box Arena.
- 10th June - Microsoft announces the acquisition of both Hellblade developer Ninja Theory and Forza series developer Playground Games at E3.
- 15th August - Sumo Digital acquires The Chinese Room, developers of the BAFTA-winning Everybody's Gone To The Rapture.
- 15th August - THQ Nordic acquires Timesplitters series
- 8th September - London's Victoria & Albert Museum opens its first video game exhibition entitled Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt.
- 18th October - Rockstar Games release Red Dead Redemption 2 for the Playstation 4, and experiences the largest opening weekend of any product in the history of entertainment, making over $725 million in revenue in three days. Within two weeks, it had shipped over 17 million copies, and increased to 23 million copies by February 2019.
- 29th October - The UK Houses of Parliament, in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Video Games, hosts the first ever parliamentary event on esports.
- 8th December - Epic Games launches the Epic Games Store, a digital storefront for PC and Mac platforms.
- 14th December - Game Workers Unite UK, a branch of the IWGB, becomes a legal trade union dedicated to representing game developers.
- 3rd January - The Entertainment Retailer's Association announces figures showing UK sales of games exceed the combined sales of music and film for the first time.
- 9th May - SEGA acquires Two Point Studios the Farnham-based developer of Two Point Hospital.
- 19th September - Apples flagship games subscription service, Apple Arcade, is launched worldwide.
- 19th September - SEGA enters the mini-console market with the launch of the SEGA Mega Drive Mini.
- 19th November - Google launch their cloud gaming service, Stadia worldwide.
- 4th February - Ukie and the University of Sheffield launch the UK Games Industry Census results, the most detailed assessment of diversity in the UK games industry workforce ever conducted.
- 19th March - UK trade association Ukie launches Ukiepedia, a brand new repository of games industry facts, insight, resources and links.
- 28 April - MacArthur Fortune acquires Cambridge-based Runescape studio Jagex for $530m.
- 18th May - Sumo Group acquires Leamington Spa-based work-for-hire development studio Lab42 for an undisclosed fee.
- 25 September - Epic Games acquires London-based "kidtech" specialist SuperAwesome for an undisclosed fee.
- 05 October - Sunderland developer and publisher Coatsink acquired by Swedish company Thunderful Group for £23m.
- 13 October - Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset released worldwide.
- 14 October - Ruffian Games becomes part of Rockstar Games as Rockstar Dundee
- 10 November - Microsoft Xbox Series X/S released worldwide.
- 12 November - Sony PlayStation 5 released worldwide.
- 08 December - London-based mobile studio Hutch Games acquired by Swedish media company Modern Times Group.
- 14 December - Tencent acquires Bromley-based Splash Damage as part of $1.3bn purchase of Leyou Technologies Holdings.
- 22 January - Carlyle group acquires Jagex, matching previous $530m price.
- 18 February - Electronic Arts completes its $1.2bn acquisition of UK-based racing games specialist Codemasters after outbidding a previous offer from Take-Two.
- 18 February - Belgian games company Larian Studios acquires Turbulenz to found Lartian Guildford.
- 02 March - Epic Games buys Tonic Group for undisclosed sum.
- 05 March - Australian fitness company OliveX acquires Zombies Run! developer Six to Start for $9.5m.
- 22 April - Portsmouth company Climax Studios joins Keywords Group for £43m.
- 23 June - Electronic Arts purchases Golf Clash developer Playdemic from Warner Brothers for $1.4bn.
- 19 July - Tencent acquires Sumo Group for $1.3bn.
- 08 September - Liverpool VR developer Firesprite joins PlayStation Studios for undisclosed sum.
- 14 September - Sumo Group adds Bristol-based Auroch Digital to their roster for £6m.