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For a while, it has been rumored that Free Radical Design was on the verge of closure. It was reported that Embracer was looking for a buyer. It appears every effort to prevent the closure failed as the studio has now been shut down. The homepage of the studio’s website has the message “404 Company Not Found :-(“.

Free Radical Design Confirms Closure, Adding To Over 9,000 Job Loses In The Industry

Former employees of the studio have taken to social media platforms to share their experiences, opinion of the game industry, or say their farewell to the studio they once called home. IT specialist at Free Radical Design Danie R. revealed that over 80 people have been made redundant by the closure of the studio.

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“Today I had to inform all staff at Free Radical Design that they were being made redundant, at the worst possible time of year, and through no fault of their own,” wrote Steve Ellis, Studio Development Director at Free Radical Designs. “This industry needs to grow up and learn how to do better and stop treating its staff as dispensable. We’re unfortunately only the latest in a very long line of similar stories this year. Such a shame that the world will never get to see the game we were developing.”

Free Radical Design Confirms Closure, Adding To Over 9,000 Job Loses In The Industry

Kieran Riley, an artist at Free Radical Design, reminisced fond memories of working at the studio by sharing group images some of the team took together. Riley mentioned how ”heartbroken” he was that the game they had under development would never see the light of day.

“I am utterly heartbroken for the amazing people I worked with here, I know we had something incredible that unfortunately won’t be shown to the audience we so desired,” Riley wrote on LinkedIn. “There was so much talent and expertise put into this project and I will be eternally saddened that it got cut short.”

Free Radical Design’s shutter follows Embracer Groups’ restructuring

Nottingham-based Free Radical Design is the latest studio to suffer the worst fate of Embracer’s restructuring which began around June. A similar fate met Volition Games and Campfire Cabal. Several other Embracer-owned studios have suffered different degrees of layoffs.

Free Radical Design Confirms Closure, Adding To Over 9,000 Job Loses In The Industry
Free Radical Design team (Photo credit Kieran Riley)

The shuttering of Free Radical Design is coming barely two years after the studio was established to continue working on the TimeSplitters series. Plaion—Embracer division that runs the studio—had earlier confirmed to VGC that the studio could be shut down by December 11 following the end of the consultation.

“Farewell, Free Radical Design,” wrote Quality Assurance Manager Kevin Ellis. “As the sun sets on my last day at Free Radical Design, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to collaborate both with industry legends and with emerging talents who will no doubt shape the future of the industry. Free Radical Design was a hub of creativity, but sadly, we join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry where entire studios are treated as replaceable cogs in a soulless machine fixated on nothing but share prices.”

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Embracer started its restructuring program in June after it was announced earlier in the year that its $2 billion Saudi deal had fallen through. Several projects have been canceled in the process. In its latest earnings report, Embracer revealed that over 900 employees have been let go—with more layoffs expected.

Around 9,000 video game workers have been made redundant this year

Free Radical Design Confirms Closure, Adding To Over 9,000 Job Loses In The Industry

According to the video game layoff tracking website, approximately 9,000 video game workers have lost their jobs as of December 10, 2023. The top five companies with the most layoffs so far are Unity (1,165), ByteDance (1,000), Embracer Group (964), Epic (830), and Amazon (715).

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“In gaming, the significance of ‘efficiency’ has risen drastically over the last 18 months,” industry consultant Serkan Toto mentioned to “There is a much higher sense of urgency now to save costs and run slimmer organizations. The pressure is on for game industry CEOs to pull out the hammer and handle the biggest cost block of them all, namely staff. This is what we have seen in 2023.”

Others believe that the current wave of layoffs is a post-COVID-19 realignment following a wave of massive expansion and hiring spree that many companies went through as they tried to meet surging demands for interactive media. Nevertheless, while some studios are facing challenges, others are still expanding.

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