FORMER Ubisoft Reflections managing director Gareth Edmondson has been unveiled as the new chief executive of mobile games service provider Thumbstar Games.
Ubisoft confirmed Edmondson’s departure from Newcastle-based Reflections last week, although his destination wasn’t discussed. It has now been confirmed that he has joined the three-year-old Liverpool firm, where he will be joined by brother Martin.
Thumbstar also plans to set up a new studio in Newcastle, which will produce exclusive content and IP for the company’s worldwide customers.
Edmondson said the studio will require “something like 10 roles”. It currently employs around eight in Liverpool, and he will split his time between the two locations.
He said: “We see mobile as a rapidly expanding part of the market. There’s a lot of attractive things about the speed of turnover of product. You spread your risk by bringing out a range of products rather than just one that takes a long time.
“My brother Martin invested in the company a number of years ago, and we looked at it recently and said it was ready for real growth.”
As well as the introduction of Gareth as chief executive and Martin as chief creative officer, Thumbstar also announced it had received significant investment which would allow it to set up the Newcastle studio and build on its current activities in mobile development and publishing.
It currently represents more than 100 developers, and provides more than 2,000 titles through channels to 128 global markets including Asia, the UK, Europe and the Americas.
Martin founded Reflections itself in 1984, and was responsible for classics such as the Destruction Derby series and Shadow of the Beast. Gareth has been at the firm for 13 years, and been managing director for seven.
The brothers collaborated on the latest in the Driver series, Driver: San Francisco, which was released to acclaim in September. Thumbstar’s Martin Kitney said the introduction of the brothers “adds a powerful new dimension” to the company.
Gareth Edmondson said Thumbstar was a “good, solid, profitable company” which was working on several interesting projects.
He said: “The strength of Thumbstar is in its distribution abilities within the mobile world. The mobile industry is talking about the growth being in Android at the moment, so obviously we’ll be there, but we’re keen to cover all of the mobile platforms.
“The nice thing about the mobile market is there’s room for exploration and innovation. You can try something no one’s ever tried before and if it’s a total disaster, you’ve only spent about eight weeks on it.
“We’ll be looking at a whole mixture of stuff, including how to make use of new phone features by doing things such as location-based gaming. The ability to innovate on the phone is really attractive.”
Ubisoft Reflections is now being run by Giselle Stewart and production director Darren Yeomans, and Edmondson said he is optimistic about its future.
“When I left Reflections, it wasn’t without some regret, because of what we’d all achieved together,” he said. “I had very strong emotional ties to the studio. I was very proud of Driver: San Francisco, and the team did an amazing job. But in the end I made the personal decision that it was time for something new.”