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 Prototype  developer Radical Entertainment faces mass layoffs, potential closure
Prototype developer Radical Entertainment faces mass layoffs, potential closure
June 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

June 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Things aren't looking good for Activision's Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment, as recent reports indicate that the studio is facing some mass layoffs, and could be shutting down for good.

On Thursday, Radical's senior audio director Rob Bridgett confirmed the closure on Twitter, just a few short months after the company released its recent multiplatform action game, Prototype 2.

Activision hasn't officially confirmed whether the studio will disappear altogether, but noted that Radical Entertainment will no longer develop its own original games.

Since its launch in April, Radical's Prototype 2 has received moderate reviews, earning an aggregated 74 out of 100 on Metacritic. While Activision never announced sales figures, the game claimed the top spot on the U.S. NPD charts at launch -- though that was during a month with relatively few major new releases.

Before Radical became a wholly owned Activision subsidiary, the studio worked a number of popular licensed titles, including The Simpsons Hit & Run and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

The studio was originally acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in 2005, and joined Activision when the company merged with Vivendi to form Activision Blizzard in 2008.

Gamasutra has reached out to some former Radical employees for comment, but has yet to hear back as of press time.

[UPDATE: Activision has released an official statement to the press, notes that until the company's ultimate fate is decided, a number of employees will remain at the studio to support other Activision projects.

"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," the company said.

"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."]

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David Phan
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It's been a real tough few years for Vancouver studios.

Best wishes go out to those affected by the studio closure. Hope y'all land on your feet asap.

Jonathan Murphy
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Son of a bytch! There goes another studio I liked.

Maybe we should make games with more practical budgets, at lower game prices? No? Gonna keep this suicidal business model where only 1% make profit?

Bob White
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Crazy concept huh. Release the game $20 lower and sell twice as many copies. It's just too hard for the publishers to figure this one out though.

Kelly Kleider
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It's walking a knife edge(s)...

don't make enough content/gameplay get dinged and lose sales....even though 90% of people who buy a game never finish it.

@Bob citation please...I'm sure you might gain some sales by lowering the price, but if it were that simple it would have been done. The number of gaming platforms has exploded within the last 4-5 years. Smartphones, Tablets, hell Roku players even, they are all competing for the eyes and wallet of the average gamer. With all this revenue not pouring into the traditional game market, titles that would have done well 5 years ago are losing money. If your game doesn't hit a 90+ rating you risk not only losing money but blowing a huge AAA budget.

[begin insanity]
You should go look at sales's not that no one is buying...they are buying everywhere now. Instead of a mall full of zombies we have a country of zombies. The problem is zombies, like gamers, are attracted to noise and the smell of meat. We as a development community need to make noisier, meatier games in order to to attract the zomb...err gamers. Here's the rub, noisier and meatier costs more. Gamers only nibble, then leave most of the meat behind.
[end insanity]

Bottom line, any studio closure sucks, I wish the Radical folks well, I salute you my fellow Canuckistanis! Prototype was a neat IP.

Joe McGinn
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Bob no disrespect but you are not demonstrating financial knowledge of how console games work.

First, Microsoft/Sony take their licensing as a flat fee on every game sold. Taking $20 off the top would be removing at least 75% of the publisher's income. So actually, you have to sell at least 4x under your plan, which means your break-even point on a game like Prototype goes from maybe 3 million units to 12 million ... to break even, not even make money! So I guess, the publishers must be like dummies not to follow your carefully analysed financial plan.

Josh Rough
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My heart goes out to those affected - many very talented professionals and their families. Best wishes in landing on your feet and we hope to enjoy your games in the years to come.

Joe McGinn
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Condolences to all affected. Another great Vancouver studio bites the dust. :-(

wes bogdan
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Awful to see a talented group and great series roped into forced cod devlopment...r.i.p prototype.

They will likely follow infinity ward away from activision leaving radical just a hollow name like rare before them.

So sad all around radical is likely to join black rock who also made great games....remind me again why people are readying new consoles when it feels more like awaiting another 83-84 crash. This time the recession might help things along.

Alex Nichiporchik
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VCs - jump on this! Get the talent in, give them the indie freedom to create something magical.

Prototype was a fun game, but it was obviously pushed by Activision in terms of creative direction. Give the designers freedom to explore and dare and they'll thrive.

Joe McGinn
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Yeh there's a good team there. Wish I had the money to organize them into making a core free-to-play PC game (Riot Games style, not Zynga).

That's the comical part of the announcement, the claim to be considering selling the company. That doesn't actually mean anything! It's a software development company, therefore the company is the people. So if you did want them, you'd just wait until Acti closed doors and then swoop in and hire everyone.

Ken Love
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Lack-A-Vision... "Hurry up and get it done so we can get the layoff's under way." :-(

Scott Jordan
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"Although we made a moderate investment in the Prototype IP, we failed to help it find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers with a number of fantastic and profitable games to it's credits. However, we have chosen to ignore that track record and based on a single poor performance we began the process of exploring various options for the the studio. We spent a solid 8 minutes "exploring" a potential sale of the business, and then made the easy decision that it would be better for our stockholders to instigate a significant reduction in staff. As such, some of the employees who kissed our ass the most will remain slumming for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects until such point as we can get maintenance over there to pull down the signs and paint over the parking spaces. Again, it is with the utmost sincerity that we say to the former employees who poured their blood sweat and tears into numerous beloved projects, fuck you very much and please be out of the building by 5pm."

There, I fixed it.

John Miller
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Very much agreed, I went through this back in 2006 at Radical.

I feel bad for the employees hopefully work will come up. :)

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Joe McGinn
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Is that really necessary Dave? Over a hundred people just lost their jobs, many families their only source of livelihood, in a city where re-employment is far from a sure thing, so many of them facing the further miseries of no-choice relocation ... and it's appropriate to take a cheap shot at the look of their character, of all things?

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