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140 jobs go at Free Radical

By on January 2, 2009

Free Radical Entertainment went into administration on 19th December and confirmed last Friday that 140 out of 185 jobs were to go.

Cameron Gunn of Resolve Partners has been appointed as administrator of the fiercely independent studio, which developed TimeSplitters and was believed to have been working on Star Wars Battlefront III.
140 people have lost their jobs (which will be added to the Jobs Lost Tracker) and 40 remain, while a number of publishers have come expressed interest in the company.

I think that the administrator will be lucky to generate significant cash from a sale. The value of a developer is in the IP, the technology, the staff and the contracts. I guess that the contracts have gone (most contracts are voided simply by a company going into administration) and only the core staff remain. Increasingly, technology is seen as less valuable by publishers who like to re-use tech in-house (as Ubisoft did using the Assassin’s Creed engine for the latest Prince of Persia game) or to find middleware solutions.

Which leaves the IP. TimeSplittersdid well (Metacritic scores in the 80s), Haze and Second Sight less so, and it is unclear what rights remain with Free Radical. I wish the administrator well (if only because by rescuing some value from the wreckage, he will demonstrate that games developers do have some residual value) but I think it will be an uphill struggle.

Free Radical moves to the GameOverZone. It is the first company to go there in 2009 and I doubt it will be the last.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: