After reports in November indicated that Free Radical Design, the team behind the TimeSplitters franchise that had been reformed in 2021 to create a new entry in the series, was facing a complete shutdown, the studio closure happened yesterday. Game Informer reached out to Free Radical Design parent company Embracer Group for a comment on the closure – it pointed us to the following LinkedIn post by Plaion, which owns Free Radical Design.
“It’s with a heavy heart that we must announce yet another difficult decision,” the post reads. “Today, we have to confirm the official closure of Free Radical Design, and say goodbye to many remarkable, talented, and hard-working people. We are beyond grateful for their incredible contributions to Plaion and wish them the best of luck and success on their professional journey from here on out.”
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Last month, VideoGamesChronicle reported that Free Radical Design, the team behind the TimeSplitters franchise, might be facing a complete shutdown. It seems that shutdown has happened, as the Free Radical Design website now leads to a 404 page. Plus, various employees have been posting about the studio, saying goodbye to it and more online.
The last day at FRD was very different from what I imagined. I don’t think it sunk in properly just yet, but handed my keys in and left the building the last time. It’s Time to Split pic.twitter.com/n1UGELsoED
— Adam Kiraly (@94Kiraly) December 11, 2023
Game Informer has reached out to Embracer Group, which, via publisher Deep Silver, announced in 2021 that it was reforming Free Radical Design to work on a new entry in the TimeSplitters series, for confirmation and comment on the matter. It will update this story if it learns more.
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Original story, 11/08/23:
Publisher Deep Silver, which is owned by Embracer Group, announced in 2021 that it was reforming TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Design to begin development on a new entry in the series. Now, a new report from VideoGamesChronicle says this reformed Free Radical Design could be facing a complete shutdown, adding to Embracer’s continued restructuring that has resulted in the closure of studios like Saints Row developer Volition Games.
Yesterday, Embracer COO Egil Strunke announced that he had resigned from the position to launch a new game company, as reported by PC Gamer, amidst Embracer’s rough year. Today, VGC reports that people familar with the matters of Free Radical Design say the studio has been part of an evaluation within Embracer and that the studio could close as a result. The publication writes that Plaion, which is the Embracer division that runs Free Radical Design, must consult employees at least 30 days in advance before layoffs per U.K. law. That law is likely how Free Radical Design employees have learned about a potential closure.
VGC notes that on LinkedIn and social media, at least 15 Free Radical Design employee have said they’re looking for new employment within the last 24 hours. Game Informer has reached out to Embracer to ask for confirmation and more details surrounding Free Radical Design’s potential closure, and will update this story if more information is learned.
As noted by VGC, while the studio could close, that’s not yet guaranteed. It could be acquired by a third-party interested in the team, or simply kept open with a change of mind by Embracer.
Embracer-owned publisher Deep Silver, who also published this year’s Dead Island 2, announced in 2021 that it had reformed the original TimeSplitters developer, Free Radical Design, to create a new TimeSplitters game. This new version of Free Radical Design features key members of the original team, including founders Steve Ellis and David Doak, both of whom worked on games like GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark while previously employed at Rare.
The first iteration of Free Radical Design was purchased by Crytek in 2009 and then rebranded as Crytek UK. However, it was shutdown in 2014, with much of the staff moving to Dead Island 2 developer Deep Silver Dambuster Studio, which also developed Homefront: The Revolution.
Deep Silver owners Koch Media purchased the TimeSplitters IP in 2018, officially making Free Radical Design a Deep Silver studio in the process, all of which are now under the Embracer Group umbrella after Embracer purchased Koch Media in 2018.
Free Radical Design was set to develop the fourth TimeSplitters game in the series, but now its future as a studio remains unclear.
The potential Free Radical Design closure joins an unfortunately ever-growing list of layoffs affecting studios this year. Yesterday, Ubisoft laid off more than 100 employees, and last week, roughly 100 employees were laid off at Destiny 2 developer Bungie.
In January, Microsoft laid off 10,000 employees amidst its ongoing $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which it completed last month.
In August, Striking Distance Studios, the team behind last year’s The Callisto Protocol, laid off more than 30 employees, and that same month, Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare laid off 50 employees, including long-time studio veterans. The following month, in September, Immortals of Aveum developer Ascendant Studios laid off roughly 45% of its staff.
Just last month month, The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog has laid off at least 25 employees, and Telltale Games has gone through layoffs as well, although an actual number of laid-off employees has not yet been revealed. And in late October, Dreams developer Media Molecule laid off 20 employees.
The hearts of the Game Informer staff are with everyone affected by these layoffs and those at Free Radical Design.