The days of Free Radical Design, which was revived two years ago, have sadly come to an end. The studio joins a growing list of teams affected by Embracer Group’s ongoing restructuring program.
UPDATE (December 13): In a statement to VGC, Embracer-owned publisher Plaion confirmed the closure of Free Radical Design: “Today, we have to confirm the official closure of Free Radical Design, and say goodbye to many remarkable, talented and hard-working people.”
Free Radical Design was officially closed on December 11, a date previously mentioned in a report by VGC last month. The information was shared by dozens of former developers on social media.
“It sees myself and just over 80 people out of work at the worst time of year for it to happen,” former senior artist Mark Normington wrote on LinkedIn.
“Free Radical Design was a hub of creativity, but sadly, we join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry where entire studios are treated as replaceable cogs in a soulless machine fixated on nothing but share prices,” QA manager Kevin Ellis said.
Former senior tech artist Adam Kiraly also shared a picture of the closed office doors, saying, “It’s Time to Split.”
The last day at FRD was very different from what I imagined. I don’t think it sunk in properly just yet, but handed my keys in and left the building the last time. It’s Time to Split pic.twitter.com/n1UGELsoED
— Adam Kiraly (@94Kiraly) December 11, 2023
Neither Free Radical Design nor Embracer Group haven’t publicly announced the closure. However, all the information from the studio’s website have been removed. The only message there now reads: “404 Company Not Found :-(”
Free Radical Design has a rocky yet rich history. The studio, best known for the TimeSplitters series, was originally founded in 1999 and then acquired by Crytek in 2009. The team helped the German developer with Crysis 2-3 and Warface. However, Crytek decided to close Free Radical Design in 2014 after missing wage payments and other financial troubles.
As a result, the company sold the Homefront IP to Koch Media (now a subsdiary of Embracer Group known as Plaion), with most of the staff transferred to a new entity, Dambuster Studios, run by Koch Media’s publishing label Deep Silver.
In 2021, Embracer Group announced that Free Radical Design would be revived with the help of its original founders, Steve Ellis and David Doak. Since then, the team has been working on a new game based on the TimeSplitters IP.
The closure of Free Radical Design is part of Embracer Group’s restructuring program announced in June. According to its latest financial report, the company has laid off over 900 people, or 5% of its workforce, since then.
Now that Free Radical Design has been shut down, the number of people affected by the restructuring has likely exceeded 1,000. The Swedish holding company has already closed Campfire Cabal, and Volition, as well as made job cuts at many of its subsidiaries such as Gearbox Publishing, Crystal Dynamics, Rainbow Studios, Beamdog, Digic Pictures, Zen Studios, Cryptic Studios, and Fishlabs.
The goal of Embracer’s restructuring program is to reduce the company’s net debt to at least SEK 8 billion ($757 million) by March 31, 2024. It is unclear how many people will eventually lose their jobs, as the companny said “closures or buy-outs are in process and will lead to further headcount reductions.”