Notable Dates in UK Games Industry History

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Help us complete this list of notable dates in the UK games industry history by submitting any suggestions you have via this online form.

1950s

1950

1951

1952

  • 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.

1957

1960s

1961

1970s

1975

  • 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.

1975

  • Games Workshop, famous for selling Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer tabletop games, is founded.

1980s

1980

  • 29th January - The Sinclair ZX80 personal computer was launched by Sinclair Research Ltd of Cambridge.

1981

  • 1st December - The BBC Micro, designed and built by the Acorn Computer company for the BBC, is released.

1982

  • 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
  • 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,

1983

  • 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.

1984

  • 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.

1985

  • 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.

1986

  • January - Commodore launch their best-selling Amiga 500, the first low-end Commodore Amiga 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer.
  • October - Codemasters, one of the oldest active British game studios, founded by brothers Richard and David Darling.

1987

  • 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.

1988

  • 13th May - Core Design, developers of the original Tomb Raider titles, is founded in Derby by former employees of Gremlin Graphics.

1989

  • 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.

1990s

1990

  • 7th December - Team 17 is founded in Wakefield. The company has produced many well known titles, most notbaly including the Worms series.

1991

1992

  • 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.

1993

1994

  • 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.

1995

  • 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 - 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.

1996

  • 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.

1997

  • 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.

1998

  • 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.

1999

  • 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.
  • 14th October - SEGA release their Dreamcast console across Europe, launching the "sixth generation" of game consoles.

2000s

2000

  • 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.
  • November - Sony Computer Entertainment release the PlayStation 2 in Europe.

2001

2002

  • 14 March - Microsoft release the Xbox console in Europe.
  • May - The Nintendo GameCube is released in Europe.
  • 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.

2003

  • 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.

2004

2005

  • 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.
  • 2nd December - Microsoft release the Xbox 360 console in Europe.

2006

  • November / December - The Nintendo Wii is released in Europe.

2007

  • 23rd March - Sony Computer Entertainment release the PlayStation 3 in Europe.
  • The Chinese Room, creators of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture founded in Brighton.

2008

  • 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 - The first Android-enabled smartphone, the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream) is released in the UK.

2009

  • 2009 was when game profits in UK exceeded those from film for the first time (source?)

2010s

2010

  • 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.

2011

2012

2013

  • 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.
  • 22nd November - Microsoft release the Xbox One in Europe.
  • 29th November - Sony Interactive Entertainment release the PlayStation 4 in Europe.

2014

2015

  • 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.

2016

  • 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.
  • 13th October - Sony releases PlayStation VR (also known as PSVR), a virtual reality head-mounted display for the PlayStation 4.

2017

  • 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.

2018

  • 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.

2019

  • 19th September - Apples flagship games subscription service, Apple Arcade, is launched worldwide.
  • 19th November - Google launch their cloud gaming service, Stadia worldwide.

2020

2020

  • 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.