Ian Bell came a long way since the early days of sim racing, when in 2001 he co-founded the SimBin modding team which produced a number of successful free add-ons for various racing games, culminating in the highly popular GTR2002 mod. The SimBin modding group, later on, became the foundation for the famed SimBin Studios known for the awesome GTR series.
In 2009 Ian Bell founded Slightly Mad Studios which became the award-winning team behind era-defining games such as Need For Speed Shift™, Shift 2 Unleashed, Red Bull Air Race, the popular Project CARS franchise, and many other top-tier games. Slightly Mad Studios fantastic in-house Madness game engine is now powering Automobilista 2.
In November 2019, the well-known British games developer Codemasters officially announced that they had acquired the London-based Slightly Mad Studios. The announcement also confirmed that Ian Bell would retain his position as Founder and CEO of Slightly Mad Studios. In December 2020, Electronic Arts (EA) confirmed that they in their turn had reached an agreement with Codemasters to take over the UK gaming company at a value no less than $1.2 billion, outbidding an offer by Take-Two Interactive. In 2021, Ian Bell announced that he was leaving the company.
Being no stranger on various social media channels, Ian Bell already hinted that he would be back with a new project, and at numerous times posted about an effort to get the old Pcars2 development team back together to start a new Development studio (Mildly Annoyed Studios) and start working on a GTR Revival Racing Simulator. Famous Simbin and Project CARS names such as Stephen Viljoen, Andy Garton, Stephen Baysted, Henrik Roos, Johan Roos, Vik Klomiets, and ex-Top Gear Stig, Ben Collins gave their interest to come on board the new company.
Now Ian is back announcing that he (and presumably others) have founded a new studio branding named Straight4Games or just plain Straight4. While no further details have been shared, the latest communication included some interesting screenshots depicting pretty impressive graphics of an Audi interior, accompanied by the words “When you look like this in-engine…”.
At this time we could start to speculate about the actual plans of Mr. Bell and friends, but I will leave that to the community. Whatever the outcome, I am always excited to see Ian Bell come up with a new possible project.
While Ian Bell has been criticized in the past for a number of things, I for one can only applaud the projects he has been part of, as they all were projects I enjoyed, and can only remember with a big smile on my face.
Best of luck Mr. Bell. Make it happen!
Official Webpage – straight4.com