TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design has closed: 'We join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry'

Timesplitters 2 cover art
(Image credit: Free Radical Design)

It appears that, as first rumored in November, TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design has been closed. The studio's website has been scrubbed and now bears a simple message saying "404 Company not found :(," while multiple employees have said that today was their last day.

Free Radical was originally founded in 1999 by ex-Rare developers, the creators of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. Free Radical found success with its quirky shooter series TimeSplitters, which debuted in 2000 as a PlayStation 2 launch title, with further sequels in 2002 and 2005. Although it never appeared on PC, TimeSplitters is held up as an underrated shooter of that era, with a funny campaign, arcadey shooting built on its GoldenEye pedigree, and a decent little map editor, for a PS2 game.

Free Radical closed its doors in 2014, several years after being acquired by Crytek. It was "reformed" by the Swedish holding company Embracer Group under its Deep Silver division in 2021 to make a new TimeSplitters, but the failure of a $2 billion investment deal earlier this year resulted in multiple layoffs and studio closures at Embracer.

Rumors of Free Radical's "potential closure" were reported in late November, leaving open the possibility that the studio might be saved by a new owner, but that apparently didn't come to pass.

"As the sun sets on my last day at Free Radical Design, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to collaborate both with industry legends and with emerging talents who will no doubt shape the future of the industry," Free Radical QA manager Kevin Ellis wrote on LinkedIn. "Free Radical Design was a hub of creativity, but sadly, we join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry where entire studios are treated as replaceable cogs in a soulless machine fixated on nothing but share prices."

"Well, that's it, officially the final day of our time at Free Radical Design and an entire studio (just over 80 people) is out of work," Daniel R. said in a separate message. "It's been an absolute pleasure to work with everyone here. There are some supremely talented people that are now in need of work."

"And it's over. My final day at Free Radical Design," senior artist Mark Normington wrote on his LinkedIn page. "It sees myself and just over 80 people out of work at the worst time of year for it to happen."

(Image credit: Adam Kiraly (Twitter))

"The last day at FRD was very different from what I imagined," senior technical artist Adam Kiraly tweeted. "I don't think it sunk in properly just yet, but handed my keys in and left the building the last time. It's Time to Split."

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The Free Radical website, which previously carried a "we are hiring" message and listings of various openings, has also changed. The links are no longer functional, and all that's left on the front page is this:

(Image credit: Free Radical Design)

Update: In a statement sent to PC Gamer on December 12, Plaion confirmed that Free Radical Design has been closed.

"It's with a heavy heart that we must announce yet another difficult decision," a Plaion representative said. "Today, we have to confirm the official closure of Free Radical Design, and say goodbye to many remarkable, talented and hard-working people. We are beyond grateful for their incredible contributions to Plaion and wish them the best of luck and success on their professional journey from here on out."

Embracer has previously closed Saints Row developer Volition and Danish RPG studio Campfire Cabal as part of its ongoing restructuring. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.