The Embracer Group has been on an intense cost-cutting drive as part of a major restructuring over the last six months, as it has canceled games, laid off workers and shut down studios. The company confirmed that in the three months to September 30, it reduced its headcount by around 900 people, some five percent of the workforce. The cuts didn't end there, as it emerged on Tuesday that Embracer laid off around 50 workers from Chorus developer Fishlabs.
Free Radical Design, which was reformed a couple of years ago to work on a TimeSplitters revival, is in trouble too. The studio could be shut down as soon as December 11. That's according to an internal email from Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors that VGC obtained.
“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,” Wingefors is said to have told staff. “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 studio is based in Nottingham, England. Under UK law, a consultation period of at least 30 days has to take place before Plaion (the Embracer-owned publisher that runs the studio) can lay off any Free Radical workers. During the consultation period, Plaion is required to look at ways of avoiding layoffs. As such, there's a chance that Free Radical may stay open if a new owner takes over.
According to VGC, which initially reported earlier this month that the studio was at risk of closure, many Free Radical workers have updated their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they're looking for work. Other studios are said to have offered interviews to Free Radical employees too.
Free Radical, the original developer of the TimeSplitters series, went bankrupt in 2008. Founders Steve Ellis and David Doak revived the studio two years ago under Plaion division Deep Silver to make a new TimeSplitters game. It's unclear what will happen with the current TimeSplitters project should Free Radical shut down.
Embracer has closed other studios in recent months, including Saints Row developer Volition. Others are said to be for sale, such as Gearbox, which Embracer bought in 2021 in a deal worth up to $1.4 billion.