In recent weeks, there have been reports that Free Radical Design, a studio that was only just revived in the last couple of years, is facing closure as Embracer Group continues to grapple with the financial fallout of a failed multi-billion dollar investment deal. Now, it would seem that the studio's closure is nearing.
VGC has updated its report on the outlook of British studio, Free Radical, the company responsible for the TimeSplitters series. Embracer has yet to publicly acknowledge the situation at the studio, but VGC's sources claim that conversations have been ongoing over the past month and in a private email sent to staff, Embracer CEO, Lars Wingefors, acknowledged that the studio could be shut down as soon as December 11th.
According to the report, Embracer is currently undergoing a consultation process, something legally required in the UK. If this consultation process doesn't turn up any satisfactory solutions, then Free Radical Design will close down just weeks before Christmas, which in a dark way, is a fitting conclusion to Embracer's awful year. It absolutely sucks for the developers that were excited to be part of the revival of TimeSplitters, who may no longer get to see the project through and it reflects incredibly poorly on Embracer Group's management, especially when you consider that Free Radical Design only reformed two years ago.
In recent years, Embracer Group has been in growth mode, spending tons of cash on acquiring major franchises like Lord of the Rings, Tomb Raider, and others, while also acquiring hundreds of smaller studios and publishers. As it turns out, the company's future was hinging on a $2 billion investment deal, which fell through earlier this year and led to a sudden turn in financial status for the company.
The downfall of this deal has had massive repercussions, with studios being shut down and hundreds of developers being put out of work. Embracer announced plans to undergo a six-month restructuring effort in June, which is still ongoing today, to stop the financial bleeding.
The situation is a little similar to the downfall of THQ, which also spent a bit too much money and then ran out of money, leading to its shutdown in 2010. Ironically, Embracer Group formed out of the ashes of THQ, beginning business as THQ Nordic, before renaming itself to Embracer Group.
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KitGuru Says: The TimeSplitters revival project could still continue at one of Embracer's other studios but at this point, I'm not sure I would count on it coming to fruition. Perhaps Embracer could find a last-minute buyer for TimeSplitters and Free Radical, assuming it is willing to let go of the IP. Considering how this is playing out for the employees, I feel like letting the IP go with them to a new home is the very least they could do to rectify this situation.