Elite Systems Ltd

Founded By:Richard Wilcox, Steve Wilcox
Location:12a Lombard Street, Lichfield, Staffs. WS13 6DR. England
Year Started:1984
Year Wound Up:
Titles in Database:60
Rights Now With:Elite Systems
Elite Systems is a UK video game developer and publisher established in 1984 as Richard Wilcox Software. After one release, Blue Thunder, the company name was changed to Elite Systems. They are best known for producing home computer conversions of popular arcade games. By 1986, the team were hiring freelancers and developing many home computer licenses of arcade machines. Ghosts 'n Goblins, for example, was converted to the Spectrum by freelance programmer Nigel Alderton and graphics designer Karen Trueman, plus Elite's regular team. The Aldridge-based headquarters housed a row of arcade cabinets for games that were being converted. Their hardware had been hacked so the team could analyse the games to ensure an accurate, licensed conversion. Elite also published games under the budget re-release labels Encore and Hit-Pak.

Today Elite is a highly-specialised developer of game software products for hand-held, mobile and wireless systems; providing game publishers and distributors around the globe with innovative solutions to their game software product-development needs.


Titles per Year

Breakdown by Genre
Breakdown by Platform

Company History


The Retro Isle team
Added: 22 Jan 2020
Click here to view a list of titles we have in the database here at Retro Isle.

From Then To Now


RVG (2012)
Added: 13 Aug 2014
Huge thanks to Steve and Elite for agreeing to do this interview. Enjoy.

How many copies of Space Invasion were actually sold/ made?

Steve / Elite
We'd have to recover the data from some ancient back-up tapes to be able to say but from memory, "several thousand; almost exclusively for the C64 and the German-speaking markets"

How different is the gaming industry now to how it was when Elite first started in the 80's?

Steve / Elite
How long have we got to answer that one. It's perhaps easier to say what's similar. It's a little glib to say it but great product is still vitally important; as is being first or early to market (whether it's on a new platform or by creating a new product category) and being able to get your message out there. Also, with the advent of mobile the wireless devices the barriers to entering the market have fallen in recent years, back to levels not seen since the mid-80s. The differences are in many cases more obvious; both the size and the geographical and demographic spread of the market for games is much, much greater. Consequently, the number of people engaged in the games business is much larger than when Elite entered it in 1984. At that time, even though this is obviously not true, it felt like we knew or knew of everyone in the business, not just in the UK or even in Europe but also in North America and in Japan. These days I'm not sure we know or know of everyone in the business in Staffordshire!

What system was the most fun and challenging to work on and why?

Steve / Elite
In the late 1990s we worked with Kumyang Co Ltd to develop and commercialise the racing game Ford Racing for the Korean company 's 2nd-generation coin-operated, motion-base video game simulator. As a closet petrol-head, from a personal point of view, I found that was a real pleasure - even though the products we produced fell somewhat short of meeting our hopes and others' expectations.

If you could turn back the clock and cancel one of your released games, which one would it be and why?

Steve / Elite
There are few too many of them to name one!

The Laird
Elite were working on several games for the Atari Jaguar including Virtuoso and Powerslide. Virtuoso was known to be finished and has been in the hands of the publishers Telegames for many years now but they claimed they couldn't release it because Elite wanted too much in royalties, is there any truth to this?

Steve / Elite
I'm sure any terms that may have been discussed would have been "commercially reasonably".

The Laird
A prototype of Powerslide for the 3DO turned up recently, do you know what happened to the Jaguar version?

Steve / Elite
It may well be residing on a disc in Elite's office.

In terms of playability your games often were at their best on the Spectrum. Why was this?

Steve / Elite
Unlike some of the contemporary and later systems for which Elite developed and published games, EVERYONE - including our then Managing Director - understood what could and could not be achieved from / on the Spectrum. That made it much easier for management to press the developers to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the device and ensured that, most, games were not released until that had been done. Another factor of course was that many of those games were based on very successful arcade games, for which Elite held exclusive licences.

Will Elite ever release any next gen games?

Steve / Elite
We're working on XBLA! games as I write. Does that count?

Do you have any sneak peaks for us of any future releases?

Steve / Elite
For the next few months we'll be refocusing our effort from 'retro' to sports. Can you guess why?
Xbox Live Indie Games
Added: 13 Aug 2014

We caught up with Steve Wilcox from Elite to talk about Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner and the state of the XBLIG marketplace.

If the saying, “look at the past to see the future”, is correct then Steve provides some interesting thoughts and ideas.

Q: So ELITE are who exactly?

RESPONSE: Elite Systems Ltd is, arguably, the UK’s oldest continually operating developer-publisher of computer and video games. Incorporated in England in 1984 (by myself and my father Brian), Elite was originally a leading developer and publisher of groundbreaking games for the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64 home computer systems…

Today Elite is a highly-specialised developer AND publisher of game software products for handheld, mobile and wireless systems; providing mobile network operators and selected other partners around the globe with “the best names in mobile games”.

Q: I’m of the age that, errm, remembers Jet Set Willy on the spectrum. Along with Manic Miner, these games were pretty ground breaking. Were you aware of this when the games came out.

RESPONSE: Software Projects (the company which first published Jet Set Willy for the Sinclair Spectrum) was, like Elite, incorporated in 1984 by Tommy Barton, Alan Matton and Matthew Smith. We knew Tommy at that time and were obviously aware of the significance of Jet Set Willy. We’re still in touch with Tommy and with Matthew today.

Q: In this day and age the graphics and sound etc aren’t exactly cutting edge. Do you think that the gameplay alone can make this a hit? Or is this purely a trip back in time?

RESPONSE: Just like other timeless games which don’t have “cutting edge graphics” – take chess and drafts (checkers) for example – Jet Set Willy endures because of its impeccable game-play.

Q: You’ve released a few games on to the XBOX LIVE Indie Games market, but what is your view of the market in general? Do you think there is a future for this type of marketplace.

RESPONSE: The XBLIG market place is sufficiently large to support a commercial nano-/micro-publisher and is sufficiently well policed (by its development community) to avoid the hideous piracy problems that plague the Android platform. So, at least from a developer-publisher’s perspective, the XBLIG marketplace has a future. How Microsoft’s Xbox division would answer that question is another matter.

Q: Is there anything that you, as a Publisher, would like to see happening with the XBOX indie games platform?

RESPONSE: Well any opportunity to co-market the XBLIG marketplace / content with the platform holder would be a real boon. Even something as simple as on-deck promotional slots, whether that be for ‘categories’ or for individual XBLIGames would raise the profile of the entire XBLIG marketplace and catalogue.

Q: XBLIG is in the same space as the iTunes and Android marketplaces – cheap games, casual players. Do you think that consoles can ever be really successful in this area, given that consoles have always been for the hard-core gamer?

RESPONSE: Nintendo might disagree with that description of the Wii’s audience. Consequently we do think consoles offering a meaningful opportunity.

Q: Are you currently playing any games? Or have you just about had enough of games when you leave work?

RESPONSE: I play our games and I play our competitors’ games – only occasionally, for example on a long flight, might I play games for recreation.

Q: Any tips for budding developers?

RESPONSE: Make sure you know why you’re developing what you’re developing, before you start. Analyse the competing products and be sure you can explain convincingly to others, not just to yourself, why what you’re developing is better than what’s already out there.

Q: So what’s next in the pipeline for Elite? And will you continue to support the XBLIG platform?

RESPONSE: Having started on iPhone / iPod Touch we’ve spent the last 12 months rolling out our Sinclair Spectrum catalogue to a growing number of platforms – currently that extends to iOS, Windows Phone, Bada and XBLIG. In the not too distant it’ll also be available on selected Android devices. On a similar timeframe, we’ll be rolling out our other 8-bit catalogue (which is currently only available on iOS) to other platforms. Additionally, we’ll be adding functionality, such as multi-player and 3D, to our entire wherever possible.


Other Pictures

Fill in this section now and click "Add my comment"

Your Name:   Category:

Security Code:

Please enter the letters and numbers shown in the image to the left (all in lowercase):-