Industry giant Embracer Group shuts down Volition effective immediately. Here are all the details.
According to staff as well as a post on LinkedIn, Saints Row, and Red Faction developer Volition is closing its doors effective immediately. This comes in the wake of its parent company, Embracer Group announcing a reconstruction of the company infrastructure.
The reason for this is undoubtedly the less-than-favorable performance of the Saints Row Reboot which was released last year. After its mixed reception, the Embracer Group announced back in June that staff would be transferred from Deep Silver to Gearbox which are both owned by Embracer.
The closure of Volition affects circa 230 members of its staff. How many of them will make their way over to Gearbox is still up in the air.
I have been affected by today's full studio closure of Volition. So proud of the work me and my team did during my 7 years there.
— Ryan Hoss (@smb_ryan) August 31, 2023
Embracer Shuts Down Volition in Wake of Saints Row's Release
After going on a spending spree, acquiring developers and IP left and right over the past few years. It was only a question of time until Embracer Group had to cut costs. Back in June, the company announced a large-scale restructuring program focusing on the usual jargon of cost saving and efficiency consolidation.
Shortly after, the gaming giant with over 131 game development studios under its banner closed down Campfire Cabal. After German developer Daedelic Entertainment's Gollum was released to a less than favorable reception, the Hamburg studio announced they'd step back from game development completely to focus on publishing instead.
All of this paints a picture of Embracer being able to spend big to acquire as many game studios as possible, but being bad at handling and managing them. These are problems perpetuated by big investments, aggressive growth, and the desire to meet investor expectations.
This wouldn't be so horrible if people's jobs weren't on the line. Only last year Embracer acquired Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montreal, together with its IPs such as Deus Ex and Tomb Raider from Square Enix. And it doesn't seem like they're coming away from these aggressive large-scale restructuring programs either.
It's a shame that Volition has closed its doors. The past 15 years haven't been kind to the developers of Saints Row and Red Fraction. Lay-offs, a series of questionable business decisions by their owners, and being tossed around like a hot potato led to one troubled development circle after another.
Arguably the title that put them on the map was Red Faction, a game that allowed players to destroy buildings as part of its gameplay. That might not sound as impressive now but back when Red Faction was released in 2001, it was revolutionary.
After Red Faction 2 developed to less critical acclaim, they set their sights on the up-and-coming open-world sandbox genre. With GTA being the standout marquee title everything tried to imitate, Volition tried to put its own spin on it.
This led to the first Saints Row game which instead of just being a crime simulator focused on the player-created main character being part of a gang. Development on the first game was a mess but the finished project sold enough to warrant a sequel. Saints Row 2 would build on the first game by adding over-the-top action and humor that complimented the sandbox gameplay.
They would then move on to develop the excellent Red Faction Guerrilla before releasing their megahit Saints Row: The Third. A with a rather questionable legacy, considering its overwhelming amount of DLC which kept THQ afloat before the publisher had to shut down.
After THQ shut down, the studio was then moved to publisher Deep Sliver which would later be absorbed into what we now know as the Embracer group. During that time, Volition had some of its projects shut down and released the finale of the Saints Row series with its 4th installment and the Gat out of Hell Standalone DLC.
A soft reboot of the Saints Row series, Agents of Mayhem then went into development but couldn't meet earlier successes. At that point, it seemed like Volition was always chasing the glory of days long gone. Agents of Mayhem was a solid release but came out at a time when solid releases didn't cut it anymore.
Their last and most recent attempt was a full-on reboot of Saints Row. A game which released not only in a terrible state but was too married to ideas that had carried the studio 10 years ago.
It is easy to imagine what would've happened if Volition had ended up under different leadership. They were a studio that for a time had an excellent grasp of gaming culture. Today we'll remember them for their iconic humor and the invention of the Dubstep Gun.
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