Codemasters is one of the longest running British video game developers. Currently the CEO is Rod Cousens (formerly of Acclaim) . In 2005, Codemasters was named as the top independent games developer by Develop Magazine, an international monthly journal for video game developers.The co-founders, Richard and David Darling, were both appointed Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2008 for services to the computer games industry.
Founded in 1985 by Richard and David Darling (who worked previously for Mastertronic), Codemasters quickly established themselves in the growing ZX Spectrum market. Richard and David mostly associated themselves with action games that required the player to solve simple puzzles by combining different objects. One of the best examples of these games is the Dizzy series. While Codemasters found their roots in the ZX Spectrum, they did not exclusively write for this one computer--they also released software (including the Dizzy series) for the Enterprise 128, Vic 20, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST.
As the 8-bit computer market diminished, Codemasters turned to developing for the 8-bit and 16-bit console markets, as well as moving away from their budget title legacy to more full-price games on the 16-bit computers 1993 saw the last title in the budget Dizzy series, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, although they released a full-price Dizzy game, Fantastic Dizzy later. They had major success with the Micro Machines series and Pete Sampras Tennis on the Sega Mega Drive. Both franchises featured the J-Cart, allowing two extra controllers to be attached to the game cart without requiring Electronic Arts' four way play or SEGA's four player adapter.
They were famous for releasing a long series of games called "Advanced Something Simulator" or "Professional Something Simulator". This led to the parody "Advanced Lawnmower Simulator" being developed, praised to the skies and then published by Your Sinclair magazine as an April Fool's Day stunt. Codemasters were one of a number of software houses in the 1980s that only released low retail price titles. Hence, when in 1992, they began to cut down on the budget releases in favour of full-price titles, they attracted the ire of many fans and the gaming press, the latter questioning the commercial logic behind it as Codemasters had known a great deal of success from their budget titles
In the last three years Codemasters have since continued to release titles for later generation systems, such as the TOCA Touring Car series, Colin McRae Rally series, Brian Lara Cricket series and Operation Flashpoint. They currently own the rights to use the title Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising, but have parted with the original developer Bohemia Interactive Studio. In spite of this, Codemasters released Operation Flashpoint: Elite developed by Bohemia, for Xbox in October 2005. June 2006 saw the long awaited release of Sensible Soccer 2006.
In April 2007, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group entered into a game distribution agreement with CodeMasters, Inc. to distribute the company's titles in North America ending May 2008.
In June 2007 Codemasters were purchased by equity group Balderton Capital and they changed their logo to an interlocked metallic C and M. Later that month they released the latest in the Colin McRae Rally series, DiRT. They have recently published Overlord and Clive Barker's Jericho.
On March 2008, Codemasters announced a new deal with Majesco. The new partnership with Majesco will focus on titles for DS and Wii, including Nanostray 2, Toy Shop, Cake Mania 2 and Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society for DS, and Wild Earth: African Safari, Our House and Cake Mania for Wii.On May 9, 2008, Codemasters announced that they had won the rights to the Formula One license after Sony's deal ran out. Codemasters will release Formula One 2009 for the Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP in October 2009. It was also announced they would release Formula One 2010 in mid 2010 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Games for Windows Live using the same graphics engine as was used on GRID.