Free Radical Design Faces Uncertain Future as Closure Looms

TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design is facing a grim future as its owner, Embracer, reportedly contemplates closing the studio before Christmas. This unsettling news comes amidst Embracer’s ongoing restructuring efforts, which have resulted in job losses and studio closures across the conglomerate. While Embracer has not yet made an official announcement regarding the fate of Free Radical Design, Lars Jannsen, the VP of Embracer arm Plaion, allegedly informed staff privately that the studio may be shut down on December 11th, just weeks before the holiday season.

An Uncertain Outlook

The potential closure of Free Radical Design has left its employees in a state of uncertainty. The studio, known for its revival from the ashes of the original TimeSplitters maker, could face the same fate that befell it in 2008 when it went bankrupt following the failure of PlayStation 3 game Haze. Free Radical Design’s founders resurrected the studio less than three years ago, but their efforts may prove to be in vain as Embracer’s restructuring measures take their toll.

During the current 30-day consultation period mandated by UK employment law, Free Radical Design employees are awaiting news of possible layoffs. However, over half of the studio’s 100 employees listed on LinkedIn have already announced that they are seeking new job opportunities. This indication suggests that the situation at Free Radical Design is dire and that many employees anticipate the worst.

Free Radical Design is just one of many studios reeling from Embracer’s sweeping restructuring strategy. Embracer’s recent actions have already led to distressing layoffs within its affiliated studios. In fact, Fishlabs, the developers of Chorus and Galaxy on Fire, announced recently that over half of their team has been let go. The toll on the industry has been devastating, with over 900 employees from Embracer-owned studios losing their jobs this year alone.

Despite the significant impact of layoffs already experienced, Embracer has stated that its restructuring efforts are still in the “early stages.” This admission raises concerns that further cancellations and closures may be on the horizon for other studios under Embracer’s umbrella. Unfortunately, it appears that Free Radical Design is on the brink of becoming another casualty in this tumultuous period.

There remains a glimmer of hope for Free Radical Design if the studio can secure a purchase before the impending closure date. However, this outcome appears increasingly unlikely. The studio’s situation highlights the challenges faced by many in the games industry, particularly during a year marked by the upheaval caused by the global pandemic.

As Free Radical Design’s employees navigate this uncertain period, Lars Jannsen expressed his gratitude for their commitment and commendable work. Emphasizing an intent to support the staff during this transition, Jannsen acknowledged the difficulty of the current circumstances. It is a challenging time for all, but especially for the employees who face an uncertain professional future.

Free Radical Design is confronting the possibility of closure as Embracer weighs its options. While the fate of the studio remains uncertain, the signs point towards an unfortunate outcome. As the consultation process continues, the employees anxiously await news that may impact their careers and lives. The studio’s potential closure joins the growing list of casualties within Embracer’s restructuring efforts, solidifying the challenging reality that faces the games industry as a whole.


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