As analysts and industry watchers argued the "recession-resilient" nature of the game industry last year, the blood of development and publishing houses alike flooded in the streets. One of the more surprising breakdowns was the abrupt implosion of Free Radical Design, creator of such as properties as the heralded TimeSplitters franchise, the respectable Second Sight, and the less-than-stellar Haze.
In December, word leaked out that, thanks largely to Haze's dismal reception, the studio was unable to secure a publisher for TimeSplitters 4, announced in 2007 for multiple platforms. It was also forced to stop work on LucasArts' Star Wars Battlefront III, a game that unconfirmed reports have being developed by Rebellion, creators of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for the PSP.
By the end of last month, Free Radical had been placed into the hands of bankruptcy-resolution firm Resolve Partners. Today, Resolve told GI.biz that a number of parties from around the globe have expressed "very strong" interest in acquiring the remnants of the studio.
"We're advertising the business and assets for sale, and there's been some significant interest expressed from all over the world, so we're now in the process of exploring that interest," said Cameron Gunn of Resolve Partners. "The sale process itself will take a few weeks to run through, so we are thinking at this stage probably towards the end of January we should be in a better position to know whether or not we've got a decent sale--mid to late January,"
Resolve is reportedly interested in keeping Free Radical, its intellectual properties, and the remaining employees intact, though the firm is also considering breaking up the company if it will yield a higher value.
"If we can sell all of that in one hit, that would be fabulous. It may be that we're made offers for several parts of the business, which when added together total up more than one whole sale to one other interested party. But it's early days, we're not too sure yet, but if we can save more jobs we'd be delighted, and that's what we're aiming to do at this stage."
In late December, Resolve Partners said it had laid off approximately 140 of Free Radical's 180-strong staff. According to Gunn, those receiving pink slips for Christmas had been compensated through December.