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Goodbye Free Radical


Syrette
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No TimeSplitters 4?  :weep:

 

http://www.edge-online.com/features/source-free-radical-locked-up

 

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 with Ellis' new venture, Pumpkin Beach, while 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.

 

 

http://www.videogaming247.com/2008/12/18/rumour-free-radical-shutting-up-shop/

 

Update: CVG’s reporting that FRD’s Christmas party wasn’t the most pleasant of affairs. It doesn’t sound good.

 

Update 2: We’ve been told staff have congregated at a nearby hotel after finding the developer locked this morning. GI’s saying the same thing, and has posted the closure as fact.

 

Update 3: Just got this from a developer source:

 

“They changed the locks yesterday, and turned up today to find the place shut and locked up this morning. They are all waiting to find out exactly whats going on and IF the company still exists in some way, or if this is the end of the line.

 

Shitty thing to happen this close to Xmas, and Haze aside, to one of the best devs in England.”

 

Update 4: It’s just been confirmed by a solid source to VG247 that Free Rad lost the Battlefront project months ago. Rebellion’s rumoured to have picked it up, but we can’t confirm that. Our source says the developer was “struggling” to find a publishing deal for TimeSplitters 4.

 

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/free-radical-design-latest-to-face-financial-trouble

 

Independent UK studio Free Radical Design closed its doors this morning, GamesIndustry.biz understands, with multiple sources claiming that staff, including senior executives, have already left the company.

 

It is also believed that the unnamed project for LucasArts - announced back in 2006 and thought to be Star Wars Battlefront III - has been shipped off to Rebellion, the developer behind PSP hit Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron.

 

One source claims staff turned up to work today to find doors locked, and instructions to meet at a nearby hotel for a final company meeting.

 

Last month, when contacted by GamesIndustry.biz, director Steve Ellis denied there were any changes at the company.

 

"Nothing unusual is happening here. Projects end. New projects start. That's how things have worked for nearly 10 years," he said then.

 

TimeSplitters 4 and the unnamed project were both still in development said Ellis, as were "other unannounced projects, which are in the process of being signed."

 

And days later, when more industry chatter questioned the future of the Nottingham studio, Ellis said that "we certainly won't be laying off any staff today. Or, for that matter, any time in 2008."

 

"If something happens in 2009 I'm sure we'll be prepared to comment - but from where I'm sitting, whatever happens is far more likely to be positive than negative," he added.

 

Calls to senior staff at Free Radical Design by GamesIndustry.biz yesterday and today have not been returned.

 

 

It's not been officially confirmed yet, so I still hold out very slight hope. I know one of the guys who works for them (helped me a lot with my dissertation earlier this year so I'll be especially gutted if they're completely shutting up shop.

 

Terrible timing.

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From what I played (the demo) Haze was an absolute piece of shit.

 

Yeah, but on the other hand the TimeSplitters series is (was?) quality and Second Sight was a decent enough game too.

 

Who cares about the games now though really? A fair number of people have lost their jobs, and just before Christmas. Gutted for them.

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From what I played (the demo) Haze was an absolute piece of shit.

 

Yeah, but on the other hand the TimeSplitters series is (was?) quality and Second Sight was a decent enough game too.

 

Who cares about the games now though really? A fair number of people have lost their jobs, and just before Christmas. Gutted for them.

 

As am I. Still, Haze was really bad, felt like a focus group game. Shame that obviously talented people lost their jobs over that game.

 

Timesplitters was good stuff, and Second sight wasn't a bad concept. Hope they land on their feet.

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What I don't get is how no-one has snapped up TimeSplitters 4 yet. It's a successful series, both critically sale and in terms of sales. I'd buy it for sure just for the multiplayer.

 

I've actually never played it...

 

 

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Guest elbee909

Yeah, have a mate there, he's obviously looking for work now.  I've been made redundant three times so it's not unheard of, and this was before the crunch game developers an excuse to shut stuff down.

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Yeah, have a mate there, he's obviously looking for work now.  I've been made redundant three times so it's not unheard of, and this was before the crunch game developers an excuse to shut stuff down.

 

I have a question. How are games conceptualized? Are there dedicated creative types at every company that pitch ideas, or are there a bunch of guys in suits looking at what's selling and just deciding to piggyback on that?

 

A lot of the games that come out nowadays are ridiculously similar, and I was wondering if there is a dearth of creativity. Within the game companies, do the people that don't even play games have more clout than the people that do?

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I've only played Timesplitters 2 on the Xbox and it looked nothing like that, nice artwork though.

 

Actually i wonder if TS2 is backwards compatible on the 360... would be worth it for the multiplayer alone.

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Guest elbee909

Yeah, have a mate there, he's obviously looking for work now.  I've been made redundant three times so it's not unheard of, and this was before the crunch game developers an excuse to shut stuff down.

 

I have a question. How are games conceptualized? Are there dedicated creative types at every company that pitch ideas, or are there a bunch of guys in suits looking at what's selling and just deciding to piggyback on that?

 

Well, you've hit upon one of the main problems with modern games development, in that it's both these things.

 

A lot of the games that come out nowadays are ridiculously similar, and I was wondering if there is a dearth of creativity. Within the game companies, do the people that don't even play games have more clout than the people that do?

 

Essentially, yes.  As a result of this skewed structure, as well as the suits who just want to do low-risk stuff that's proven successful, there are also now people who have climbed the pole so that they can claim some sort of creative control, whose creative leanings only extend as far as how to brown-nose.  And these people tend to sit around coming up with shite rather than actually creating anything worthwhile in terms of new concepts.  The suits love this type of shite creative, because it gives them all the more licence to do endless low risk sequels rather than indulge creative vision... sad really.  Anyone who has good ideas is usually ignored these days.  Still, this mostly applies to a certain place I may or may not have worked at that may or may not rhyme with 'phony'.

 

New stuff comes out like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge and you lot ignore it in the grander scheme of things, so who's to blame other than humans wanting to herd a lot and just go for what they know?  I don't know, it's a big argument.

 

There are always creative people out there though that do have amazing ideas, but they're just not listened to like they were.

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40 members of staff kept on.

 

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3172060

 

Troubled UK developer Free Radical is to lose over three quarters of its staff, it was announced today. The company is to be left with a skeleton staff of around 40, and is now officially up for sale.

 

Speaking to 1UP, Cameron Gunn of administrators ReSolve Partners said, "We made around 140 employees redundant yesterday, effective 31 December (the date up to which they had been paid). We're still trading on with the remaining 40 or so employees, have advertised the business for sale and have received some strong interest." An anonymous Free Radical employee had previously said that the company was working on two secret projects which more than one publisher was said to be hoping to get their paws on.

 

Gunn declined to comment on the names of the interested party or parties involved in the ongoing negotiations. It seems likely that three of the company's four Nottingham-based offices will be let go, with the downsized crew of 40 working from one central base.

 

Haze and TimeSplitters maker Free Radical went into administration on December 18, although employees stressed that this did not mean the business was closing. However, once bought, the company will obviously lose its status as one of the UK's 150 or so remaining independent developers. The number has fallen sharply in recent years, dwindling from approximately 400 in 2001 as companies are taken over, or relocate overseas to take advantage of cheaper operating costs and benefits like tax credits.

 

Other game companies including Aspyr, Midway, Factor 5, and Electronic Arts, also recently announced staff redundancies in what is undoubtedly a very unwelcome Christmas present for all those affected.

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Yeah, have a mate there, he's obviously looking for work now.  I've been made redundant three times so it's not unheard of, and this was before the crunch game developers an excuse to shut stuff down.

 

I have a question. How are games conceptualized? Are there dedicated creative types at every company that pitch ideas, or are there a bunch of guys in suits looking at what's selling and just deciding to piggyback on that?

 

Well, you've hit upon one of the main problems with modern games development, in that it's both these things.

 

A lot of the games that come out nowadays are ridiculously similar, and I was wondering if there is a dearth of creativity. Within the game companies, do the people that don't even play games have more clout than the people that do?

 

Essentially, yes.  As a result of this skewed structure, as well as the suits who just want to do low-risk stuff that's proven successful, there are also now people who have climbed the pole so that they can claim some sort of creative control, whose creative leanings only extend as far as how to brown-nose.  And these people tend to sit around coming up with shite rather than actually creating anything worthwhile in terms of new concepts.  The suits love this type of shite creative, because it gives them all the more licence to do endless low risk sequels rather than indulge creative vision... sad really.  Anyone who has good ideas is usually ignored these days.  Still, this mostly applies to a certain place I may or may not have worked at that may or may not rhyme with 'phony'.

 

New stuff comes out like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge and you lot ignore it in the grander scheme of things, so who's to blame other than humans wanting to herd a lot and just go for what they know?  I don't know, it's a big argument.

 

There are always creative people out there though that do have amazing ideas, but they're just not listened to like they were.

 

I figured it was like that. I guess games cost too much to develop to take chances. I don't understand it, these companies must see that when developers take a chance on a new concept and deliver a quality product (Portal, Braid) the consumers jump all over it.

 

Every game company seems to bust it's ass to deliver a marketable product for the holiday season. As soon as the holidays are over, nothing of quality comes out for about four months. Why not set aside a moderate budget for a creative group of trusted developers and let them take a chance on a new concept? I'll be honest with you: as a consumer, I'm dead bored right now. If someone released something even slightly intriguing I'd probably be all over it. If it fails, it fails. But if you hit upon something, then you have nearly two years to develop a sequel for the next holiday period.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That Battlefront game is now in the hands of developer Rebellion, so it'll probably get released eventually...

 

I am well aware. However what I don't know is whether they will use some of the assets Free Radical may be able to pass on to them, or whether they're starting from scratch. You'd expect them to do the latter (at least to a certain extent), in which case Battlefront 3 is now even more of an unknown prospect, especially since Rebellion haven't put out a good game in years (in fact the last game I liked of theirs came out a decade ago - Aliens vs Predator). Both companies are based in this country so you might get some ex-Free Radicals joining up with Rebellion.

 

 

Really hope battlefront gets released, loved the previous one. That video looks great, apart from the characters running like gay ballet dancers.

 

Pre-alpha tbh. I'm sure the animations would have been improved by the time it was released.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Reportedly been bought by Crytek.

 

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3172598

 

Free Radical's Rob Yescombe just confirmed to 1UP that the recently troubled developer has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Germany-based Crytek (best known for the games Far Cry and Crysis). This ends weeks of uncertainty about the future of the company, which many had guessed might be forced to shut its doors.

 

When Free Radical employees arrived at work at the company's four Nottingham, UK offices on December 18, they found that they were locked out, with a sign asking them to attend a meeting at a nearby hotel. There it was confirmed that the company had gone into administration, a process in the UK whereby companies can continue to trade while their financial woes are tackled, hopefully meaning that the company can be saved from complete closure.

 

On December 31, administrator Cameron Gunn of ReSolve Partners announced that although the developer would continue to operate, it would be shedding 140 staff. The remaining 40 employees stayed on at the company working out of one office. Gunn stated at the time that there had been "strong interest" from a number of parties worldwide for the developer.

 

Speaking from his local pub, Yescombe told us, "After seven long weeks of uncertainty, I can confirm that Free Radical is now out of the woods. We've been bought by a really, really good company." He added, in what was possibly a first for the outspoken writer, "I'm so excited I'm lost for words." Then he found some and continued: "It's the smoothest deal we've ever done. It all went through quickly, efficiently, fantastically..."

 

Yescombe said that he was unsure what the deal would mean for those made redundant on New Year's Eve, but that he hoped the company could ramp back up to its former size. Asked about what the team will be working on -- and specifically if this means we will one day see TimeSplitters 4 -- he said, "We don't know yet. We'll find out over the coming weeks."

 

We've contacted Crytek for more details, and to confirm from their side.

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