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Embracer CEO confirms TimeSplitters studio faces closure before Christmas

TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design faces closure before Christmas, Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors has privately acknowledged.

VGC reported earlier this month that Free Radical was at threat of being closed just two years after it was established, as part of huge company-wide cuts at Embracer and its owned publishers.

Although Embracer has yet to publicly confirm Free Radical’s position, sources told VGC that Wingefors has now acknowledged in a company email that the Nottingham, UK-based company could be closed on December 11, following the completion of a consultation process.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

For the past six months, Embracer has been carrying out a restructuring plan which has already seen some game studios closed and some projects cancelled.

The company confirmed earlier this month that over 900 employees were let go during its second quarter ended in September.

In the case of Free Radical, Plaion – the Embracer division which runs the studio – is required by UK employment law to consult employees for a minimum of 30 days before making any redundancies, including exploring ways of avoiding them.

Embracer CEO confirms TimeSplitters studio faces closure before Christmas
The Free Radical Design team, pictured in December 2022.

There remains a possibility that the studio could remain open then, should Embracer receive interest from third parties interested in acquiring it.

However, since VGC’s initial report this month, a large number of Free Radical employees have indicated that they’re looking for work. At the time of publishing, over 55 of the studio’s 100 staff members listed on LinkedIn have changed their profiles to indicate they’re seeking new employment.

Since VGC’s original report, some UK studios, such as nearby Splash Damage, have offered guaranteed interviews for any Free Radical Design employee.

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.

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”.