2011 has been a rough year for so many businesses. With the way the economy is heading these days, we should expect to see more and more companies go under, and video game development studios are not immune to such sad news. Despite many of them having popular and critically acclaimed games, many game studious are either forced to suffer through massive layoffs or simply close up shop.
Gaming is a harsh business. The following are five of the most notable video game studio closures of 2011. Let's have a moment of silence for these video companies that (mostly) brought us such memorable games. You guys will be missed.
EA Visceral (Melbourne Division) (2008-2011)
Most Notable Games: Dead Space 2, Dante's Inferno, The Godfather 2
Electronic Arts Shut down the Melbourne division of its popular Visceral Game Studios because it failed to see profits in the studio's future. Before the studio permanently closed its doors, they were working on a shooter called Blood Dust, and was also believed to have been working on the long-rumored Jack the Ripper game. Many members of the closed studio went on to work for other positions for Electronic Arts, but the fate of these incomplete games will forever remain a mystery.
Team Bondi (2003-2011)
Most Notable Game: L.A. Noire
Founded in 2003, Team Bondi is responsible for L.A. Noire,
which was published by Rockstar Games. Unfortunately, the apparently
horrible working conditions that members of Team Bondi had to endure
caused many of the team to leave the company. According to an anonymous
number of Team Bondi's ex-employees, they had to undergo 12 hour work
days and lengthy crunch times in order to get the game completed. According to the International Game Developers Association's
(IGDA), these reports are “absolutely unacceptable and harmful to the
individuals involved, the final product, and the industry as a whole.”
huge amount of negative press that the company received caused the game
company to close down before they were able to secure a future project.
Kaos Studios (2006-2011)
Most Notable Games: Homefront, Frontlines: Fuel of War
What's going on here? Kaos Studios released two commercially successful games that made publisher THQ millions of bucks, and despite Homefront having mixed reviews, it shipped 2.6 million units to retail since launch. Not too shabby, but it'll be their last game. The studio was announced to close permanently on June 2011, with the Homefront sequel being handed over to Crytek, What gives?
Propaganda Games (2005-2011)
Most Notable Games: Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned (Unreleased), Turok, Tron: Evolution
After releasing two commercially unsuccessful games, the Turok re-boot and the Tron: Evolution movie tie-in, Propaganda Games Studio finally got the big break they deserved. They began development on Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, a promising game that received an unexpected high amount of hype during their unveiling at E3. However, when Disney Games decided to “restructure” (read: laid off 70 people), the company decided to close the studio in January 2011.
Bizarre Creations (1988-2011)
Most Notable Games: Geometry Wars 1 & 2, Project Gotham Racing
Bizarre created their biggest hit during the early days of the XBOX 360's life cycle with Geometry Wars. The studio was full of creative ideas, and was also known for the hit racing series Project Gotham Racing. Activision eventually acquired the company, and allowed the team a lot of creative freedom to work on numerous projects. The created Blur, a racing game which was critically acclaimed but unfortunately was not a hot seller. The Club was also created by the team, but once again the game simply did not get the recognition that it needed. After another commercial failure with Blood Stone, a James Bond game that featured a great racing mechanic (hey, these guys know how to make a good racing game) and decent 3rd person shooting, the company's fate was sealed.
Activision axed Bizarre Creations this year when no other company wanted to buy them out. However, the studio lives on in several ways. In February 2011, a group of senior members of Bizarre Creations formed an independent gaming studio called “Lucid Games.” Geometry Wars creator Stephen Cakebread, Bloodstone level designer Peter Collier, and former community manager Ben Ward announced that they will be forming another game studio known as Hogrocket.
Check out other video game posts by Peter Mai here:
- Ten Things You Didn't Know About Super Mario Bros.
- Ten Signs You're An Aging Gamer
- “Sorry, I'm Dead”: 30 Most Memorable Video Game Quotes
- Vaporware: 5 Video Games That Should Be Released By Now
- Five Video Games to Convince Non-Gamers They Can Play Video Games
- Ten Unique Ways to Perform the 'Legend of Zelda' Soundtrack