The state of independent PC development apparently worsened over the weekend, when reports surfaced that Stainless Steel Studios had closed its doors. Though no announcement was made, the Empire Earth developer's Web site, stainlesssteelstudios.com, went offline and attempts to reach its offices were unsuccessful as of press time. E-mails sent to addresses ending in "@stainlessteelstudios.com" were bounced back.
But while official word is in short supply (that is, nonexistent), several reliable but unofficial sources have written Stainless Steel's epitaph. First up was a post by former staffer Bob Scott on the forums of Rise & Fall Heaven, a fan site dedicated to the forthcoming Stainless Steel game Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War. Under the headline "Stainless Steel Studios is no more," Scott declares that "I don't have all the details, but all of my friends there are now looking for new work."
Further confirmation of Stainless Steel's demise came today via Germany-based Gamestar.de. The site quotes studio founder Rick Goodman as blaming Rise & Fall publisher Midway Games for the developer's fiscal insolvency. He reportedly told Gamestar that after the PC strategy game's release was pushed from October to early 2006, Midway cut off advances to Stainless Steel, which in turn had to lay off its staff due to lack of funding.
[UPDATE] Inquiries sent to Midway regarding Goodman's alleged allegations and the status of Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War got a cryptic response. "We'll have a statement on this situation by the end of this week," was all a rep for the publisher would say.
Founded in 1998 by Goodman and several other ex-employees of Age of Empires III developer Ensemble Studios, Stainless Steel specialized in real-time strategy games for the PC. Over its seven-year life span, it released a number of decently reviewed and received games, including Empire Earth and Empires: Dawn of the Modern World.