TimeSplitters fans are a particularly resilient bunch. They’d have to be, seeing as the last entry in their favorite sci-fi first-person shooter franchise, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, launched nearly nineteen years ago for sixth-generation consoles (PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox).
However, this last blow is certainly going to test them. After a flurry of rumors, the studio’s official website was updated to say ‘404 Company Not Found :-(‘. Meanwhile, several employees have begun posting their goodbyes on social channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, hinting they had a very good time at the studio and are extremely sad about this shutdown.
It’s been a great 2 and a quarter years at Free Radical Design, sad to see us go.
Onwards and upwards! pic.twitter.com/VEfJ29g42D
— Mark🥋🎨 (@KeighleyKicker) December 11, 2023
While the Embracer Group has not commented on the closure yet, VGC obtained an internal email sent a couple of weeks ago by Plaion VP of Worldwide Studios and Talent Lars Jannsen.
As we move through the consultation process and face the potential closure of Free Radical Design on 11 December 2023, I want to express my gratitude for your commitment and the remarkable work you’ve done and still keep doing. This is a challenging time for all of us but especially for you, and our focus is to support you as much as we can during this transition.
The Embracer Group is still continuing its internal restructuring after the ‘transformative’ $2 billion deal with the Savvy Group (which had previously acquired $1 billion in company stakes) fell through, causing a huge stock crash. Saints Row developer Volition and indie studio Campfire Cabal were also closed down, while Insurgency developer New World Interactive suffered heavy restructuring as of last week.
It’s not the first time Free Radical Design has suffered this fate. In 2009, following the unsuccessful launch of the first-person shooter Haze, the company was purchased by Crytek and renamed Crytek UK. Five years later, the former FRD closed down, and most staff was transferred to Deep Silver’s Dambuster Studios.
In May 2021, though, TimeSplitters fans had their dreams rekindled for a time as the studio was resurrected by Deep Silver with the specific goal of creating a new franchise installment. Original Free Radical Design founders Steve Ellis and David Doak were brought on. Today, FRD had around 80 members who are now looking for work.
The status of the new TimeSplitters project remains unclear. It is technically possible Embracer could keep it alive by moving it to another of its internal studios, but the main tenet of its restructuring program is refocusing on the company’s biggest franchises, starting with The Lord of the Rings. As such, it appears far more likely that whatever work Free Radical Design had done in these two and a half years will be left to rot, once again disappointing fans of the IP.