TimeSplitters Fans Can Feel Disappointed: Free Radical Design Has Been Closed Again!

The restructuring of the Embracer Group has not only seen the demise of Volition (known for Saints Row), but also the closure of another studio…


The website of Free Radical Design has been updated with a rather sad update. On the main page we get a 404 Company Not Found :-(. So it’s game over for the studio that worked on the revival of TimeSplitters. It’s been almost two decades since the last installment of the sci-fi FPS franchise was released for PS2, Xbox and GameCube (it’s TimeSplitters: Future Perfect), and in May 2021 Deep Silver relaunched the studio to make a new installment (Steve Ellis and David Doak, two of the founders, returned), but now there are about 80 people looking for work. Many are bidding farewell to the studio on Twitter and LinkedIn.

VGC has also obtained an internal email from Lars Jannsen, owner of Deep Silver and Plaion’s Vice President of International Studios and Talent: “As we go through the consultation process and face the potential closure of Free Radical Design on December 11, 2023, I want to express my gratitude for your dedication and the remarkable work you’ve done and continue to do. This is a challenging time for all of us, but especially for you, and our focus is to support you as best we can during this transition.” It’s not the first time Free Radical Design has faced a similar fate: in 2009, the studio suffered a similar fate after Haze, originally announced as multiplatform but ultimately made PS3 exclusive, failed to deliver the expected results. Crytek bought them out and changed their name (Crytek UK), but after five years they were gone too, and many of their employees moved to Deep Silver’s Dambuster Studios. The new TimeSplitters are probably finished: Embracer is trying to push the Lord of the Rings IP.

At videogamelayoffs.com, game developer Farhan Noor keeps track of how many people have lost their jobs this year. As of December 10, the top 5 are Unity (1,165), ByteDance (1,000), Embracer Group (964 – does that include Free Radical? If not, they’re ahead of ByteDance), Epic Games (830), Amazon (715). There are many more companies to list: Xbox Game Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment, CD Projekt, Ubisoft, Riot Games, Blizzard, Crystal Dynamics, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, BioWare, Striking Distance, Team17, Frontier Developments, Telltale Games, Digital Extremes, Digital Bros.

Industry consultant Serkan Toto recently told GamesIndustry: “The importance of ‘efficiency’ in gaming has risen dramatically in the last 18 months. There is a much greater sense of urgency to cut costs and run leaner organizations. The pressure is on for game industry CEOs to get the hammer down on the biggest cost block of all, people. And this is what we saw in 2023. It’s all happening with a sense of ‘if we don’t do it, our competitors will, and then they’ll eliminate us through efficiency’, and people are being laid off left and right right now. There is also the phenomenon that CEOs often believe that 15% to 20% of their workforce is redundant anyway at any given time.

Liz Prince, head of recruitment specialist Amiqus, also told Gamesindustry: “Every industry goes through cycles of expansion and contraction, and what we’re seeing looks like a post-Covid realignment. As we know, there was a huge increase in games during the pandemic and this sudden boom led to studios expanding rapidly, making acquisitions and perhaps over-investing in certain areas. Now some of the studios have to readjust. But it’s worth noting that while some studios are facing challenges, there are many others that are expanding.

The number of layoffs could reach 10,000 this year; we are now at about 9,000.

Source: WCCFTech, VGC

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Anikó, our news editor and communication manager, is more interested in the business side of the gaming industry. She worked at banks, and she has a vast knowledge of business life. Still, she likes puzzle and story-oriented games, like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, which is her favourite title. She also played The Sims 3, but after accidentally killing a whole sim family, swore not to play it again. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our IMPRESSUM)

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