TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Design is at threat of being closed by owner Embracer Group, just two years after it was re-established, sources have told VGC.
For the past six months Embracer has been carrying out a “restructuring program” which has already seen some game studios closed and some projects cancelled.
According to people close to Free Radical Design, the Nottingham, UK-based studio has been part of the evaluation and employees have now been notified that it could close.
As required by UK employment law, Plaion – the Embracer division which runs Free Radical – must consult employees for a minimum of 30 days before making any redundancies, including exploring ways of avoiding them.
There remains a possibility that the studio could remain open then, should Embracer receive interest from third parties interested in acquiring it.
However, VGC analysis of LinkedIn and social media shows that, within just the last 24 hours, at least 15 people employed at Free Radical have already published posts saying they’re looking for work.
That includes a lead game designer, senior artist, senior technical artist, game designer and the studio’s IT manager.
Neither Free Radical, Plaion nor Embracer responded to requests for comment in time to be included in this story. Embracer’s next earnings release is due next week.
It’s not yet clear what the closure would mean for the future of TimeSplitters, the classic first-person shooter series the new Free Radical was re-established to revive.
The first iteration of Free Radical Design was formed in 1999 and developed the TimeSplitters series and Second Sight. Following the disappointing reception of Haze and a cancelled Star Wars: Battlefront project, the studio went bankrupt in 2008.
What remained of the company was later saved by Crytek, rebranded, and worked on the Crysis series, Warface and Ryse: Son of Rome. In 2014, it was acquired by Deep Silver and became Dambuster Studios. In 2016 it released Homefront: The Revolution, and earlier this year, Dead Island 2.
Plaion and its parent company Embracer announced in May 2021 that a new Free Radical Design had been established by original founders Steve Ellis and David Doak to bring the TimeSplitters IP “back to life”.
At the time, Ellis said: “To finally be able to confirm that the studio has been formed and that we have a plan for the next TimeSplitters game is incredible. While we cannot tell you anything more at the moment, we look forward to sharing information in the future.”
Job losses across the games industry have been widespread in 2023. Companies impacted by layoffs this year include Xbox Game Studios, Epic Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, CD Projekt, Unity, Riot Games, Blizzard, Crystal Dynamics, BioWare, Striking Distance, Team17, Frontier Developments and Telltale Games.