Keywords Studios chairman Ross Graham dies

Chairman of video games developer Keywords Studios dies less than a fortnight before retirement

  • Ross Graham was set to retire from Keywords following its AGM on 26 May
  • Don Robert has been appointed as the firm’s chairman with immediate effect
  • Keywords offers services to most of the world’s largest video games developers

Passing: Ross Graham, the chairman of Keywords Studios, has died aged 75

Ross Graham, the chairman of Keywords Studios, has died aged 75, less than a fortnight before he was due to step down.

Graham was set to retire from the Dublin-headquartered video games services company following its annual general meeting on 26 May, having been chairman since its listing on the London Stock Exchange a decade ago. 

During his tenure, the business expanded from three studios with about 120 full-time staff to one with more than 70 studios across 26 countries and a market value exceeding £1.8billion.

Growth has been driven by a global boom in demand for video games, which was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and dozens of acquisitions, such as the studios Wicked Workshop, Hardsuit Labs and Forgotten Empires.

As well as Keywords, Graham was the chairman of technology group Arithmetica and had held senior positions at microchip maker Wolfson Microelectronics prior to its acquisition by Cirrus Logic.

After qualifying as a chartered accountant, he began his career at Arthur Young – a predecessor firm of Ernst & Young – where he eventually became a partner. 

Graham then spent over a decade as a director at software product provider Misys and also worked for Psion, famous for creating the world’s first handheld computer.

Following his death, which Keywords described as ‘sudden and unexpected,’ former Experian boss Don Robert has been appointed chairman with immediate effect.

Bertrand Bodson, chief executive of Keywords, said: ‘Ross has been a huge influence on the group, and we were looking forward to being able to mark and celebrate his contribution in two weeks, when he had been due to start his well-deserved retirement.

‘For me personally, Ross was a huge source of guidance and knowledge over my first 18 months in the role, and I will miss his wise counsel. 

‘On behalf of everyone at Keywords, we send our sincere condolences to all of his family and friends.’

Founded in 1998 by husband-and-wife couple Giorgio Guastalla and Teresa Luppino, Keywords initially offered translation services to business software providers. 

The company now provides technical services to most of the world’s largest video games publishers, including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Epic Games and Chinese conglomerate Tencent.

This can range from translating in-game text to creating artwork, proofreading, scoring music, player research, and even creating entire games for developers. 

Although it has never released any games under its own name, the firm has worked on many best-selling franchises, such as Guitar Hero, Pro Evolution Soccer, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.

Last year, Keywords reported turnover and profits climbed by more than a third on the back of increasing demand for complex games and the sustained trend towards external service provision.

Keywords Studios shares were 0.3 per cent higher at £23.46 on Monday afternoon, although they have fallen by approximately 15 per cent so far this year.