Rumor: Free Radical shutting down

Queasy

Moderator<br>Console Gaming
Aug 24, 2001
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Update: Free Radical put up for sale. Hoping that someone like Ubisoft, Valve, or EA buys them. Haze was a disappointment but Timesplitters needs a go around for this generation.

Free Radical still exists, that we can confirm, but things aren't looking good with more than 75% of the workforce now made redundant (over 140 employees); the developer officially up for sale.

The Nottingham-based game developer entered administration in the run up to Christmas, with Resolve Partners appointed to make the best of a bad situation.

Cameron Gunn, representing the administrators, reveals that there has been a lot of interest from third-parties considering the purchase of the developer, other gaming firms presumably eying IP like TimeSplitters with interest.

Forty employees remain at Free Radical, the 140 redundancies effective from the end of the year.

It remains to be seen if something of Free Radical can be saved, but with costs now dramatically cut there certainly seems to be a good chance of something being salvaged.

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Link

Reports are circulating that Free Radical Design has closed its doors and could even be shut down entirely.

Numerous calls to the publisher's offices and its staff at the time of going to press have not been returned, as speculation mounts that senior executives and other members of staff have had to walk away from the business.

Rumours that the developer has shut down were initially sparked by a number of sources claiming that the company?s Nottingham studio has been locked up, with staff unable to enter the building.

This remains purely speculation at this stage. Edge understands that a company meeting has taken place earlier today. More as it comes through.

 

Queasy

Moderator<br>Console Gaming
Aug 24, 2001
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Originally posted by: BoberFett
No! I need a new Timesplitters! :(

They were working on Star Wars: Battlefront III as well.

More

A source close to staff at Free Radical Design told Edge on Thursday that the developer has shut its doors--and changed the locks--just before the Christmas holiday.

"Staff arrived for work this morning to find the locks had been changed and notices on the doors advising them to attend a meeting at a nearby Novotel [a hotel chain] at 12 noon today," said the source, who preferred anonymity and worked with Free Radical in better times. "Heavy duty security staff was patrolling the buildings."

"...I think they're all a bit shell-shocked."

The studio employed around 150-200 staff, the tipster said. "After the poor reviews of Haze and subsequent loss of a contract with LucasArts, [Free Radical was] struggling to find publishers to back the long-awaited TimeSplitters 4 and other smaller projects and were left with no choice but to pull the plug."

Free Radical was founded in 1999 by former Rare developers including David Doak, Steve Ellis, Graeme Norgate and Karl Hilton, who created games including Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. Free Radical also created the aforementioned TimeSplitters series of games.

The independent studio had a publishing deal with LucasArts on the unannounced Star Wars Battlefront III, a deal that fell through in October after about two years of development, the source said. "[Free Radical] was relying on Lucas for further contracts which had been promised in some sort of exclusivity deal. Obviously that all went down the pan."

Perhaps the worst news for fans of the studio is the demise of TimeSplitters 4. "They had already started working on TimeSplitters 4, and had been for over a year, but due to the failure of Haze and the deal falling through with Lucas, they couldn't get a publisher to back them. They had a last ditch attempt last week down South somewhere, but it came to nothing so I think that was the last hope."

The source claimed that the company "didn't treat their staff well at all." Rumors of a closure were circulating within the company for "a few weeks."

"People have been leaving in droves due to lack of security, poor treatment of staff, better offers and guaranteed work from other local developers such as Monumental Games and one in Derby whose name escapes me [Rebellion and Core Design both have Derby locations--ed.]."

Doak reportedly "officially" left the company early this month, and Ellis has set up another company called Pumpkin Beach, which already has a placeholder website registered under his name. The two are reportedly working on this project together and will "hand pick" Free Radical staff to join them.

The source also said that despite the looming closure, the company still held a big Christmas party last week and gave staff a week's pay as a Christmas bonus.

Attempts to contact Free Radical have been unsuccessful.

After the meeting

Later on Thursday, our source updated us with more inside information from the Free Radical staff meeting that took place at a hotel near the studio. Apparently, Free Radical knew the urgency of its situation six months ago.

Co-founder Ellis was "visibly upset" when he talked to the staff, the source said. "[He] told staff how very sorry he was and they'd been doing all they could, working flat-out to either find a publisher or a buyer over the past six months, but no offers were made. There have been several visits to the States, but to no avail."

About 20 staff members were offered positions, possibly with Ellis' new venture, Pumpkin Beach, although this is yet to be confirmed. The rest of the employees were told in a separate room that they would be laid off.

Staff had reportedly been paid to the end of December, but are not expected to receive any further compensation "as there was nothing left to give."

Reps from U.K. game makers Codemasters and Monumental Games were at the hotel after the meeting asking for CVs and applications from former Free Radical staffers.
 

erwos

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Apr 7, 2005
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Color me not shocked. The decision to make Haze into a PS3 exclusive was a pretty bad business plan. Well, that and releasing a crappy game. Same thing happened with Factor 5, now that I think of it.
 

Queasy

Moderator<br>Console Gaming
Aug 24, 2001
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Originally posted by: erwos
Color me not shocked. The decision to make Haze into a PS3 exclusive was a pretty bad business plan. Well, that and releasing a crappy game. Same thing happened with Factor 5, now that I think of it.

Well, Factor 5 hasn't closed down yet. They laid off approximately half of their staff and the remaining staff took pay cuts.
 

bdubyah

Senior member
Nov 20, 2007
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oh noes! i hope someone picks up TS4 if they end up shutting down. i needs me some of that TS goodness!
 

erwos

Diamond Member
Apr 7, 2005
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Originally posted by: Queasy
Originally posted by: erwos
Color me not shocked. The decision to make Haze into a PS3 exclusive was a pretty bad business plan. Well, that and releasing a crappy game. Same thing happened with Factor 5, now that I think of it.

Well, Factor 5 hasn't closed down yet. They laid off approximately half of their staff and the remaining staff took pay cuts.
You don't need an MBA to know that laying off half the staff and cutting the pay of everyone else basically means you're screwed. The morale hit alone is going to sink the company.
 

bl4ckfl4g

Diamond Member
Feb 13, 2007
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Well Famitsu gave White knight absolute shit scores and if they give it bad scores then it must be pretty bad so maybe they'll be next.
 
Dec 8, 2008
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Originally posted by: erwos
Originally posted by: Queasy
Originally posted by: erwos
Color me not shocked. The decision to make Haze into a PS3 exclusive was a pretty bad business plan. Well, that and releasing a crappy game. Same thing happened with Factor 5, now that I think of it.

Well, Factor 5 hasn't closed down yet. They laid off approximately half of their staff and the remaining staff took pay cuts.
You don't need an MBA to know that laying off half the staff and cutting the pay of everyone else basically means you're screwed. The morale hit alone is going to sink the company.

The other half are looking for jobs.
 

erwos

Diamond Member
Apr 7, 2005
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Originally posted by: bl4ckfl4g
Well Famitsu gave White knight absolute shit scores and if they give it bad scores then it must be pretty bad so maybe they'll be next.
Level 5 isn't the same as Factor 5 - but in any event, L5 has a lot more going on than F5. For one thing, L5 could come crawling back to Microsoft with exclusivity agreements in exchange for tons and tons of cash.
 

Queasy

Moderator<br>Console Gaming
Aug 24, 2001
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Originally posted by: erwos
Originally posted by: Queasy
Originally posted by: erwos
Color me not shocked. The decision to make Haze into a PS3 exclusive was a pretty bad business plan. Well, that and releasing a crappy game. Same thing happened with Factor 5, now that I think of it.

Well, Factor 5 hasn't closed down yet. They laid off approximately half of their staff and the remaining staff took pay cuts.
You don't need an MBA to know that laying off half the staff and cutting the pay of everyone else basically means you're screwed. The morale hit alone is going to sink the company.

Not saying they aren't screwed. Just saying they haven't shuttered the doors and changed the locks yet.
 

destrekor

Lifer
Nov 18, 2005
28,799
359
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Well as far as Factor 5 and Free Radical - that's what happens when you invest a few years worth of time into developing what is supposed to be a grand game, and just falls flat. Factor 5 I was kind of surprised with, but they put so much into LAIR that it single handily just about killed them, but they can bounce back since they've done some other successful projects.

Free Radical - well they invested a lot of time developing Haze, especially since at first it was bound to be a multiplatform release, and then decided to make it PS3 only. What does not help is when you invest all that time and effort into what ends up becoming an exclusive release, and the game blows. Free Radical doesn't release all that many games, they are a smaller team, so that definitely was a fatal blow to the team. Sucks because I would have loved to have a nextgen Timesplitters, and I was hoping Haze was going to provide that same level of multiplayer fun, but guess that didn't happen.

Level 5, on the other hand, I wouldn't imagine, even if White Knight Chronicles ends up being absolutely terrible, that they'll be hurt that bad. It might mean some reorganizing of the work force, but they release quite a few RPGs and one or two being bad games isn't a fatal blow for them.

I'm hoping that Famitsu's scores is just the Japanese and their love for JRPGs, so maybe there's enough of a difference that it'll be successful US/Europe. I'm hoping it's a fun game to play, but I might be let down.
 

Queasy

Moderator<br>Console Gaming
Aug 24, 2001
31,796
2
0
Update: Free Radical put up for sale. Hoping that someone like Ubisoft, Valve, or EA buys them. Haze was a disappointment but Timesplitters needs a go around for this generation.

Free Radical still exists, that we can confirm, but things aren't looking good with more than 75% of the workforce now made redundant (over 140 employees); the developer officially up for sale.

The Nottingham-based game developer entered administration in the run up to Christmas, with Resolve Partners appointed to make the best of a bad situation.

Cameron Gunn, representing the administrators, reveals that there has been a lot of interest from third-parties considering the purchase of the developer, other gaming firms presumably eying IP like TimeSplitters with interest.

Forty employees remain at Free Radical, the 140 redundancies effective from the end of the year.

It remains to be seen if something of Free Radical can be saved, but with costs now dramatically cut there certainly seems to be a good chance of something being salvaged.
 

imported_Lothar

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2006
4,559
1
0
Originally posted by: Queasy
Update: Free Radical put up for sale. Hoping that someone like Ubisoft, Valve, or EA buys them. Haze was a disappointment but Timesplitters needs a go around for this generation.

Free Radical still exists, that we can confirm, but things aren't looking good with more than 75% of the workforce now made redundant (over 140 employees); the developer officially up for sale.

The Nottingham-based game developer entered administration in the run up to Christmas, with Resolve Partners appointed to make the best of a bad situation.

Cameron Gunn, representing the administrators, reveals that there has been a lot of interest from third-parties considering the purchase of the developer, other gaming firms presumably eying IP like TimeSplitters with interest.

Forty employees remain at Free Radical, the 140 redundancies effective from the end of the year.

It remains to be seen if something of Free Radical can be saved, but with costs now dramatically cut there certainly seems to be a good chance of something being salvaged.

I would rather they shut their doors than for EA to buy them.
 

BladeVenom

Lifer
Jun 2, 2005
13,540
16
0
Originally posted by: Inspector Jihad
tough shit, don;t make shitty games and thsi wont happen.

QFT. Haze bombed and no one is going to spend the money to give them a second chance, especially in this economy. Better developers than them have disappeared.