Argonaut Games PLC profile
Founded by Jez San (qv), Argonaut Games plc was one of the largest independent games developers in the world with a 17 year history of producing groundbreaking games.
The company was based in Edgware, north London, UK, and at its peak boasted over 300 employees. Argonaut created numerous hit games, most-notably Croc: The Legend of the Gobbos, Alien: Resurrection and the first Harry Potter on PlayStation for EA. Additionally, Argonaut developed the Super FX chip (used in the original SNES Star Fox title) for Nintendo, which ultimately became the foundations for a spin-off company, ARC (Argonaut RISC Cores).
Argonaut worked with a wide-range of publishers including Sega, Nintendo, Virgin, Koei, Mitsui, 20th Century Fox, Electronic Arts, Sierra and Ubisoft.
In 2000 the Argonaut board decided to float the company on the London AIM (Alternative Investments Market) stock-exchange, raising over £20m in working capital. A series of acquisitions followed, adding several small studios to the group, including Just Add Monsters (now Ninja Theory, developers of Heavenly Sword for PS3) and Particle Systems. However, the group struggled with both its new overheads and the fresh challenges in the transition from PlayStation to PS2 and Xbox.
By 2004, after various setbacks, Argonaut's cash reserves were severely depleted, leading to the eventual closure of all of its studios, and the loss of several hundred jobs.
Aside from Ninja Theory, London-based developer Rocksteady (developer of 2006's Urban Chaos: Riot Response for Eidos) rose from Argonaut's ashes, while another acquisition, mobile developer Morpheme, continues to prosper. Jez San went on to found online 3D poker company PKR.com.
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