Recent reports have shown that Radical Entertainment, the Vancouver-based subsidiary of Activions, has been hit by mass layoffs and that the studio is shutting down for good.
Rob Bridgett, Radical’s senior audio director, took to Twitter on Thursday to confirm the closure. Activision also released an official statement to the press that elaborated on the situation:
“Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers, however, we have explored various options for the studio, including a potential sale of the business, and have made a difficult conclusion through the consultation process that the only remaining option is a significant reduction in staff.
“As such, some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.”
Prototype 2 received mixed reviews at its launch in April, amassing a Metacritic rating of 74. According to the U.S. NPD charts, the title claimed the top spot at launch but sold less than 236,000 copies in what would be a slow month for major releases.
Radical Entertainment had employed approximately ninety people and had been purchased by Activision in 2005. The studio developed the Prototype series, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and Scarface: The World is Yours.
Analysis: In an industry with ballooning development rates and large investments, studios don’t have much room for a lacklustre release that doesn’t perform to expectations anymore. Rarely can a studio recover from such a mistake, even more so now. Unfortunately, Activision put their chips on Radical Entertainment with Prototype 2 in the hopes that it would really take off, and it would seem the game didn’t perform to expectations.
I’m deeply saddened to hear that Radical Entertainment may be facing a possible closure as they were a more than solid mid-tier studio. Although they didn’t craft the deepest games story- or gameplay-wise, they did have one particular element of gaming in spades: they knew how to make a truly fun game that was a joy to play, and really, that’s what gaming has always been about. The constant power trips that games like Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and the Prototype series provided were a welcome sight in an industry that’s been increasing focus on providing more serious, mature, adult-catered game experiences.
Sometimes, we gamers don’t want to have to think or be exposed to an emotional story. Sure, they have their place in the industry, too, but sometimes we just want to have fun causing as much carnage as possible. Radical Entertainment was one of the best in the business in giving that experience to gamers, in my opinion. My condolences and thoughts go out to those that are affected by this situation. Hopefully, those who find themselves without a job are able to find a more stable position with another company soon.