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TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design shuts down as Embracer fallout continues

TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design shuts down as Embracer fallout continues

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The Nottingham-based studio had been working to revive the classic first-person shooter franchise but has been forced to close in the wake of parent company Embracer’s restructuring.

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Cover art for TimeSplitters 2.
Image: Free Radical Design

Free Radical Design, the Nottingham, UK-based studio that had been working on a revival of the PS2-era TimeSplitters franchise, has shut down. “Today, we have to confirm the official closure of Free Radical Design, and say goodbye to many remarkable, talented and hard-working people,” parent company Plaion posted on LinkedIn. “We are beyond grateful for their incredible contributions to Plaion and wish them the best of luck and success on their professional journey from here on out.”

The official confirmation comes after the message “404 Company Not Found :-(” appeared on the homepage of Free Radical’s website. Several employees posted that December 11th was the company’s last day, and many more set their LinkedIn profiles as “#OpenToWork.” VideoGamesChronicle previously reported that the studio could close in December.

In its current form, Free Radical Design dates back to 2021 when it was announced that a new studio had been set up to “bring the TimeSplitters franchise back to life” under the ultimate umbrella of the rapidly expanding Embracer Group (the new Free Radical Design was a subsidiary of Deep Silver, which was a subsidiary of Plaion, which was itself a subsidiary of Embracer Group). Series creators Steve Ellis and David Doak were brought on board to help with the revival.

Screenshot of a homepage reading ‘404 Company Not Found’
Free Radical’s homepage as of December 11th, 2023.
Screenshot by Jon Porter / The Verge

But fast-forward to May this year, Embracer Group announced it would be restructuring shortly after a $2 billion deal fell through. The loss of the deal, rumored to be from a Saudi investment group, has already resulted in the closure of Saints Row developer Volition and reported attempts to sell off Borderlands developer Gearbox Entertainment

This is the second time Free Radical has closed its doors. In its original form, the company was founded by several developers who’d worked for Rare on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, and the studio would produce a trilogy of acclaimed PS2-era TimeSplitters games. But after the release of the studio’s poorly received PS3 exclusive Haze and the cancellation of its Star Wars: Battlefront project, Free Radical Design went bankrupt in 2008. It would go on to be sold to Crytek and rebranded as Crytek UK, which effectively shut up shop in 2014.

Reports that the revived Free Radical could be impacted by Embracer’s financial difficulties emerged in early November, when VGC reported that employees were notified that the studio could close.

Update December 12th, 10:25AM ET: Updated with Plaion’s confirmation that the studio has closed.