Update 13/12: Plaion, the publisher under the Embracer Group umbrella responsible for Free Radical and TimeSplitters, has now officially confirmed the studio closure. It issued the following statement to VGC:
“It’s with a heavy heart that we must announce yet another difficult decision. 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.”
Update 12/12: After earlier reports signaled an impending closure it looks as though Free Radical Design, the UK studio behind the TimeSplitters franchise that was re-established under the Embracer Group umbrella for the purpose of bringing the series back, has certainly come to a bitter end.
Multiple employees have now publicly posted farewell messages on social media and LinkedIn, with Senior Gameplay Programmer Adam Sims sharing, “So long Free Radical Design, my first experience in the Games Industry and my first experience being made redundant. It definitely had its ups and downs but I can say for sure that the team I worked with were fantastic, and I wish them all the best! I’ll miss you all.”
The website for Free Radical has also been updated with pages removed and a simple “404 Company Not Found” message at the front.
“As the sun sets on my last day at Free Radical Design, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to collaborate both with industry legends and with emerging talents who will no doubt shape the future of the industry,” writes QA Manager Kevin Ellis in another, quite harrowing LinkedIn post.
“Free Radical Design was a hub of creativity, but sadly, we join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry where entire studios are treated as replaceable cogs in a soulless machine fixated on nothing but share prices.
“To all who lent their skills, dedication and creativity, you are the heartbeat of Free Radical Design. As we part ways, I’m confident your talents will persist in shaping gaming’s trajectory. Let’s carry forth the spirit of innovation, resilient against industry challenges, fueled by an unwavering passion for gaming. Here’s to new beginnings and the everlasting legacy of Free Radical Design.”
With mere weeks left in 2023, a seemingly-unstoppable wave of studio closures and layoffs continues, including many close to home, to be hugely concerning and impossible not to dwell on in the face of a year that’s being celebrated for the quality and quantity of its releases in the same breath.
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Original Story: It looks as though Free Radical Design, the UK studio behind the TimeSplitters franchise, is the next to face closure in a continuously crumbling industry landscape.
VGC has reported that Free Radical has found itself as part of parent company Embracer Group’s widespread restructuring, which has already seen Saints Row developer Volition shuttered and some other brands looking to be sold off, such as Gearbox. The outlet says that people “close to” the studio have shared that employees were told it could be closed, with UK employment law dictating that Embracer and Plaion need to consult with staff for at least 30 days before redundancies as well as explore alternative options.
While neither Free Radical itself or Embracer has addressed the potential studio closure as of yet, VGC says that at least 15 people employed at the studio have shared on social media and LinkedIn that they’re newly looking for work.
Free Radical Design, which developed the original Timesplitters series along with games like Second Sight and Haze and had gone bankrupt in 2008, was re-established with its original founders back in 2021 with the specific goal of bringing the Timesplitters franchise back. If the studio does indeed close once again, it’s hard to say what would happen to that project, especially given we’d heard very little of it since.