Confirmed: Free Radical breaks down

Source: Numerous European gaming outlets, including GamesIndustry.biz. What we heard: To put it politely, Free Radical Design's sci-fi shooter Haze was not what fans were expecting from the studio behind the heralded TimeSplitters franchise. Originally announced by publisher Ubisoft as a...

Source: Numerous European gaming outlets, including GamesIndustry.biz.

What we heard: To put it politely, Free Radical Design's sci-fi shooter Haze was not what fans were expecting from the studio behind the heralded TimeSplitters franchise. Originally announced by publisher Ubisoft as a multiplatform effort during the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Haze debuted as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in May suffering from abysmal AI and, perhaps most surprisingly considering the studio's TimeSplitters legacy, uninspired multiplayer.

It now appears as if Free Radical will not be afforded the opportunity of redemption. GamesIndustry.biz, along with several other European outlets, reports today that Free Radical has become the latest victim in a string of high-profile studio closures this year. Citing multiple sources, GI.biz reports that staff were served their walking papers this morning after finding the UK-based studio's doors locked. The layoffs reportedly extend to both rank-and-file staff and senior-level executives.

Online reports gave no indication of what would become of TimeSplitters 4, which was officially announced in October 2007. Free Radical was also collaborating with LucasArts on an unnamed game, rumored to be Star Wars: Battlefront III. According to GI.biz's sources, the game is now being handled by fellow UK-based Rebellion, creator of 2007's Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for the PSP.

[UPDATE] Edge Online reports Free Radicals' financial turmoil stems from a breakdown in the aforementioned deal with LucasArts. According to the publication's source, "[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."

The source also claims that Haze dragged down Free Radical's efforts to find a publisher for 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," said the informant.

The official story: As of press time, e-mails sent to several Free Radical employees went either unanswered or were bounced back.

Bogus or not bogus?: [UPDATE] The worst has come to pass. This Is Nottingham has confirmed with Cameron Gunn of Resolve Partners, a bankruptcy-resolution firm, that Free Radical has been "placed in to administration yesterday afternoon."

"We will be spending the next three or four days assessing the financial position of the company but it's business as usual, although we have asked that almost all of the employees apart from a skeleton crew remain at home," said Gunn. "All employees have been paid up until the end of December and we hope to make another announcement before Christmas or very soon thereafter, but we must stress at this stage that it's business as usual."

This Is Nottingham reports that Free Radical employs 185 people, and it was unclear how many would be out of work.

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255 comments
VXLbeast
VXLbeast

I always hate to hear of a game studio close. Too bad.

MightyJordan
MightyJordan

RageSet is right. The death of a company doesn't mean the death of their games. A good example would be Rage Sodtware. They were working on Lamborghini, an eagerly anticipated racing game, but unfortunately in 2003, both they and Acclaim (the game's publisher) went bust, so the game was put on the shelf. But fortunately, some of the Rage employees went on to form Juice Games, and in the end, Lamborghini became what we now know as Juiced.

Templar_Bladema
Templar_Bladema

Sigh, I saw the Battlefront III alpha on ign, and read that the version I saw would unfortunatly never been released (unless Rebellion can get their hands on the tech or can mimick it), but if that had been released, it would have hopefully been enough to save the company.

daveg1
daveg1

they should be gone after that haze nonsence..asking people to shell out for that peiceof shovel fodder.

wars45
wars45

haze was crap and has for t 4 its too much of a risk has ther so many shooters out ther i dont think t 4 will have a big fan base thats way they pulled the plug

-Dark_Palladin-
-Dark_Palladin-

I can't tell you how much time the TS series cost me. Timesplitters 2 was one of my favorited classics; As an 9-year-old, I'd come home from school on friday on a rainy day, throw my science project papers somewhere on a table and race to the xbox consle, and play this game littlerly all week. It would be up to at least 11:30 at night; By the endlessly warm, cozy fireplace, my dad would be on the computer playing solitare for hours, and I would be either designing millions of maps or recording videos of me playing while doing commentary....Good times. What made Timesplitters so great is its Arcadish style, its cartoony graphics, its amazing sense of humor (How many Scifi Shooters let you play as monkeys, zombies, and robo fishes?), and the unforgetable mapmaker that makes you feel like your playing a PC shooter like Half-Life or Doom 3. It also has some of the best and funniest music in FPS history. Its more than depressing to see it end like this. My only hope is that Free Radical does what Rageset said; Go back to Rare and try to start all over again. If Free Radical has the ability to make 4 amazing, breath-taking multiplayer games in one series, surely they can pull themselves out of the muck. I also fear that companys like Capcom or Stellar Stone might take over Timesplitters. Propaganda Games tried to revive the Turok series, and they failed miserably. If either of these bad companys messes with TS, I will cry and die.

gDamascus
gDamascus

And I was so looking forward to Timespitters 4. Hopefully you right, RageSet.

Nexeus
Nexeus

Timesplitters is easily one of the greatest run and gun FPS' of all time. As whole the games deliver a great story, a varied and amazing line of charecters, intense multiplayer over different game types, minigames that offer hours of extra challenge and enjoyment.} Im sad to see the passing of this great company. I can only imagine how awesome TS4 would have been over live. Alas, hopefully they can get soemthing new going and god willing TS4 and BF3 wont be lost forever. R.I.P. Free Radical...

RageSet
RageSet

The death of a company doesn't always means it is the end. Hopefully, the personnel from Free Radical can go back to Rare and rebuild the legend that is Perfect Dark OR start another company. The Timesplitters series was awesome and the map editor in the games helped established that feature as a standard, but as one poster stated, times have changed and wonky AI won't cut it in modern gaming. To be fair to the TS series, their AI was purposely wonky to induce an arcade-like experience. That is what made TS so fun, an action packed arcade shooter with balanced weaponry. I still pop out TS 2 for its crazy challenges and great zombie multiplayer mode for my friends and I. With Haze, Free Radical was going for a realistic approach and the game's AI didn't fit with the theme. Haze wasn't an overall bad game, just not up to the quality standards that precedes it with the TS series. I wish the best luck in the future for all Free Radical employees and their endeavors, hopefully they'll land on their feet and acquire the TimeSplitter IP from whoever buys it.

athenian29
athenian29

Like I said for the BFIII story... Quick! Everyone buy Haze new! Support Free Radical in their time of need! Seriously, maybe it's too late, but it's worth a shot. As opposed to EA, where crappy games are a fact of life, this is just one little slip-up for these guys! Buy one piece of junk, and we guarantee two more pieces of awesomeness in the coming years!

rafybaby
rafybaby

free radical wont go down forever it just needs some muppet to fund it then splitters 4 is back on. they know how much that game is worth just to fund it for that, it's like gta it'll sell out on the first day. an yeah the brick was a great weapon

avatarofwoe314
avatarofwoe314

People here don't seem to realize why Timesplitters was great. It was a good enough shooter with a funny plot, great characters, fun multiplayer with some entertaining weapons (the brick?), and decent graphics. I really hope that a competent group of people finish this and there is some continuity with the previous titles.

jelly_donut_92
jelly_donut_92

Timesplitters 4 has to come out, hopefully someone else will take over if Free Radical can't

TehRats
TehRats

I cannot describe how dissapointed/sick I feel right now. Timesplitters = Best series ever. R.I.P Free Radical

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

So sad, but these are the hard times we are in now. :|

Metal_Gear_THX
Metal_Gear_THX

It seems that the kiss of death for this developers is choicing to develop games exclusively on PS3. PS3 + Exclusive development =DEATH! Why are some developer going against the tide. PS3 is a diffulcult platform to achive realtime results in a realist time frame. No developer has the luxury of 3+ years to develop a single title. Kojima Productions' MGS series and Sony's own Santa Monica studio has the backing of large bank account from theirs parent company, but if God of War 2 and MGS 4 floppe, the chapter ends there. As tv development budget gets higher the risk gets increases and then you dance with the reaper.

mike_on_mic
mike_on_mic

It is upsetting to see another game company hit the wall. Does this mean that games will not try and push boundries at all, it needs to be a safe bet? I know Haze didn't meet the expecations since being shown, which let's say it had promise, but it was a different concept in an arena where different concepts are needed due to saturation. Let us hope that after this economic "down turn" but we won't say anything more, things pick up and more studios are given the chances to trying their hand at things now so safe in the hopes of creating a real gem.

mechag2
mechag2

This is so sad. I was really looking forward to TS4. Free Radical is an ace company, and it's upsetting to see this happen to such a talented developer. It's a good bet more quality devs will be crushed under the economic pressure. The next poorly received game could very well be the last. I was VERY excited about the prospect of Free Radical being the developer to handle the next Battlefront game. Seeing it in competent hands was a big sigh of relief after seeing what Pandemic did (or didn't do) with BF I & II. After The Clone Wars, I was really surprised Pandemic mucked up the 1st BF game so badly. Then they did it again with BFII. Sticking to Star War canon while balancing gameplay seemed to be an impossible feat for them. I'm upset about Rebellion being tapped to takeover BFIII's development. After the first AVP game as well as BF: Renegade Squadron, I've lost faith in the company's ability to create a quality game that stay's true to the source material and setting. Kinda like Pandemic. It's looking like Factor 5 might end up with the same fate as Free Radical, which breaks my heart 'cause I was REALLY hoping they'd develop another intensely epic Rogue Squadron game, this time for Wii and online enabled. *sigh* Sad times indeed.

gobbo00
gobbo00

Just goes to show you, you are only as good as you're last game. I think this may happen to Silicon Knights too. Maybe Free Radical staff might go a beg for there old jobs at Rare! Timespliters was over rated the 1st one was a last gen game, the 2nd looked like they had riped out a lot from goldeneye. And the 3rd had poorly implemented vehicels (like haze) and yes I did buy haze with my PS3 & MGS4 Lucky I got MGS4 too then!

Baramos6
Baramos6

Blasphemy, TimeSplitters is a good series!

Weeoo_86
Weeoo_86

Man this really stinks. I really feel for the employees who work there, I really do, I pray they find a much better job in the very near future!

GIF
GIF

I also never cared for either Timesplitters or Haze for that matter. I'm sure there was awesome talent there but the games just never appealed to me because of the limited features available as a player. Plus I'm not a fan of deathmatch driven story or gameplay. I think its lazy and lack imagination.

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

I never cared for Timesplitters :( It couldn't replace Goldeneye or Perfect Dark for me :)

xlizard-beta
xlizard-beta

TS4 shouldnt be an exclusive for any system every one shud get to play TS4

rob123911
rob123911

What a shame. lets hope TS4 is saved.

shakensparco
shakensparco

Oooof! Getting laid off right before the 25th... Merry Christmas! But its always sad when any decent game developer shuts down. In the end, we have fewer games to choose from.

andalore
andalore

PS3 killed timesplitters, Nice one whoever bought haze! you could have lied you know and said the game was actually good!

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

Bought Haze when it came out, might actually open it now and have a go.

mastiffchild
mastiffchild

If the existing work on TS4 is good(and there hasn't been a poor one yet so why wouldn't it be good?)then Sony should be pricking up their ears ahnd helping find a way to get it onto PS3. IDK if it's so important on the Halo led 360 but as a PS3 exclusive it would really sell and maybe become a console shifter. TS2 , for me, set the first good standard for onlne FPS and each subsequent release has improved-really, it's got a big fanbase and, again for me, has always been a better game than the relevant Halo release. Sony would be missing a trick(as , maybe would Ninty-without a great online shooter at all right now)to let a great chance, and franchise, die when it offers them(and gamers) so very much. Would even be worth MS buying the rights to stop it from happening(plus they only need to prevent it being an exclusive, multi would do them fine). Whatever, I want to be playing TS4 one day(preferably on PS3 tbh)and can't see the seniors at FRD not getting offers for it/themselves to get the game made-and soon. It may well be a bargaining chip in their administration proceedings so lets hope that someone gets atleast what it's worth for a truly groundbreaking franchise, When you consider that it was also politics(ending with a rushed production of an in house physics enginge at a late point in dev)that really killed off Haze(though sales were nowhere near as bad as you might think.Poor, but no disaster)it seems really sad that those nehind Goldeneye and Timesplitters are now out of work. Harsh times-and good luck in finding new jobs to anyone losing theirs in this sad demise. Save TS4!!

Pascal75
Pascal75

Aa shet.I'd really hate to see them go they did make TimeSppliters.Me and my cousin put 2 wholes in the sofa while playing it.(were not fat we played it a lot):D

xlizard-beta
xlizard-beta

DAMMIT!!!!!! there better be a TS4 i cant live without it

da1writer
da1writer

Hopefully if they do get disband that some of the crew that were "Ex-Rare associates of Goldeneye" end up in good First Person Shooter studios. What I'm really hoping is that someone, someway gets Time Splitters 4 out the door. I think someone besides EA and Ubisoft should save them... Activision-Blizzard anyone? I think they should grab the Time Splitters team since Activision-Blizzard does an awesome job with Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Just think Activision-Blizzard, you could save the greatest first person shooter series, Time Splitters! Maybe inject some of your people (from other studios) to help them make a awesome product with high production values and stellar presentation and gameplay to guarantee HUGE success! Anyone else thinks so? What's your thoughts?

rikhan_z
rikhan_z

They messed up Haze... I don't give a crap... however considering that they created timesplitters and had staff worked on Goldeneye 64... it's a hard hit. They're the last company I would expect to fall.

mattcake
mattcake

I will never understand how a company can have so much talent and so many resources and put out games that any average gamer could write a list of 100 things that need fixing and improving to make the game good. Really, how hard is it to make a good game? LISTEN to what people want :) Pisses me off.

pop_can
pop_can

but I love the timesplitter series. they were fun, unique and humorous. no timesplitters 4 makes me sad :( hopefully someone will pick it up.

Heavy_Metal_Guy
Heavy_Metal_Guy

I was looking forward to TimeSplitters 4. TimeSplitters will always be one of my favorite series.

Kratossssssssss
Kratossssssssss

Meh poor people...Haze was actually appealing to me...the game had a lot to offer but I'm afraid Free Radical let go off that chance....Was actually pretty badass to be a dude who's helmet got a hole in it....If there was a Haze 2, I would actually be hyped for it. Cause I know that the " Oh the first one sucked, so will the second" comment is a real stupidity...Look at Killzone franchise. Meh on well I hope someone revives Time Splitters.

GatCloudX
GatCloudX

i meant that LBP was a good game sorry anyway i love timsplitters

GatCloudX
GatCloudX

see ps3 needs good exclusives not bad ones like LBP

witty-name
witty-name

It surprises me that the failure of Haze made it difficult for Free Radical to find a publisher for TS4. I'd have thought that even with the abysmal PS3 exclusive, publishers would still place some faith in them coming through for Timesplitters after the astoundingggg first ones. Well I thought they were anyway. Heh. Big shame, was looking forward to seeing what they would do with TS4, and Battlefront was an awesome game too... would have loved to see a new-gen follow up. Although it says it's been taken on by Rebellion... didn't play Renegade Squadron mind... Oh well eh.

king_chapeton15
king_chapeton15

damn this suks i hope another publishing company such as infinity ward make ts4 happen

blancobo
blancobo

Rest in peace free radical. Shane was reborn but Haze... after much delay, prooved to be a disappointment. Times have changed, and games are to be much more than they were before. Players are more experienced... they have played over the years various consoles and seen the growth of intelect on AI... from GTA III to GTA IV, from Ratched and Clank to Resistance 2, from System Shock to Bioshock, from Halo to Halo III... we have learned to expect MORE from AI, from storylines and from game play... now console game development is much more expensive and complicated! look at 2K Boston, and Marin... all devs which united to develop Bioshock for the PS3, as well as for Killzone 2... look at the time it took to develop MGS GOP... and the delays of GTA IV (all great reasons to deliver a product sure of quality)... you should have known this was no PS2/XZB game...

chickenfeed9
chickenfeed9

Timesplityters was is one of my favourite series. this is a real shame.

spike6958
spike6958

I was really hoping to see Star Wars Battlefront3 sometime in the future, this sucks big time.

Tftrashcan
Tftrashcan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Tftrashcan
Tftrashcan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]