80s computer game pioneer Hewson Consultants is back in the game business, having availed itself of the UK Games Fund, and it's still very much a family business.
Founded in the early 80s by Andrew Hewson, the company's first product wasn't game related at all: Hints and Tips for the ZX80 offered users of Sinclair's ZX80 microcomputer, the first machine available for under £100, advice on programming software on the unique keyboard and to fit in its less-than-capacious 1KB of RAM. The publication of the book led to Hewson being bombarded with games written by enthusiastic readers, which he capitalised on by turning the company into a games publishing venture.
During its run from 1981 to 1991, Hewson Consultants was responsible for publishing some of the most-loved games of the 8-bit era. Classics such as Gribbly's Day Out, Paradroid, Firelord, Uridium, Cybernoid, Exolon, Zynaps, Ranarama, and Technician Ted earned the company an enviable reputation for quality, even with early titles such as Space Intruders - the company's first game, a Space Invaders clone released in 1981 - lacking the polish for which the Hewson brand would become known. After its closure in 1991, its management team went on to found 21st Century Entertainment - known for its quality 16-bit pinball titles - while Andrew Hewson would also be known for founding the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA).
Recently, Hewson came out of retirement to publish a book, dubbed Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers, and the success of the yet-to-be-released title on crowd-funding site Kickstarter appears to have spurred him on to new heights - or, more accurately, old ones, with Hewson Consultants to begin publishing games once more.
The reformed Hewson Consultants will include Andrew Hewson as chairman and finance director, John Ogden as technical director, and Andrew's son Rob Hewson as the chief executive and creative director. Rob Hewson's appointment isn't mere nepotism, though: he has his own history in the games industry, having worked on several popular LEGO-branded titles for TT Fusion over the years. Funding for this rebirth has come from the UK Games Fund, winners of which were announced today as Atomicom, Cardboard Sword, Clever Beans, Coatsink Software, Fallen Tree Games, Futurlab, Noble Games, Nosebleed Interactive, Paw Print Games, Plug-in Media, Roll 7, Ruffian Games, Rumpus Animation, Semaeopus, Sensible Object, Six to Start, Slug Disco Studios, Spilt Milk Studios, Tag Games, The Secret Police, Two Way Media, White Paper Games, Yakuto, and Hewson Consultants.
'I’m delighted to be joining the company I grew up with,' said Rob Hewson of his appointment. 'Our aim is simple – to develop and publish original, innovative games once again. We are extremely fortunate to have a small but hugely passionate community of retro gamers behind us, and we are excited to take them along on this journey.'
The company has confirmed that it is to concentrate on releasing the crowd-funded book before announcing any game-related projects.