Earlier this morning, we brought word that TimeSplitters and Haze developer Free Radical Design had shut and locked the doors, then held what seemed to be a doomsday meeting for the staff at a nearby hotel.
As the day has progressed, we've learned from Rob Yescombe - a screenwriter in the employ of Free Radical - that the company is not necessarily finished.
Asked the question, "Is it true that Free Radical has shut its doors?", Yescombe responded, "Nope, not true." He declined to comment further on the situation at the developer, however.
Such a sudden refusal of entry to staff suggests a lock-out by the office's owners, rather than a decision by management.
Furthermore, Cameron Gunn of adminstrative company Resolve Partners, had this to say:
"We will be spending the next three or four days assessing the financial position of the company but it's business as usual, although we have asked that almost all of the employees apart from a skeleton crew remain at home."
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"All employees have been paid up until the end of December and we hope to make another announcement before Christmas or very soon thereafter, but we must stress at this stage that it's business as usual."
While this may be negative for the staff in the long run, at least their immediate situation is under control. Kudos to Free Radical and Resolve Partners for giving their employees a mattress to land on while pulling out the rugs.
And of course - now that I'm satisfied that the employees are going to have a decent holiday - the question remains: what news of Star Wars Battlefront III and TimeSplitters 4?
Part of the fallout from [Haze] is rumored to include LucasArts pulling the unannounced Star Wars Battlefront III from them in favor of also UK-based developer Rebellion. Free Radical had also been at work on a fourth installment in their signature TimeSplitters series, but was unable to drum up a publishing partner for the project. For over a year they had been working on Timesplitters 4, but at this point its fate hangs in the balance.
1up's article includes much more info regarding the future of the employees (i.e. a spinoff dev team, layoffs, etc.). I recommend reading the full article, and in the meantime: cross your fingers, as one of gaming's most respected and legendary teams has just seemingly disbanded...for now.