2009's saddest studio closures

Who was axed, why, and what we'll miss because of it

BottleRocket

Closed: September 2009
Most recent game: Xiaolin Showdown
Best known for: Rise of the Kasai

BottleRocket was working on Splatterhouse, a remake of the classic 1989 arcade game, until February, when Namco Bandai pulled them from it like smoked pork. Losing Splatterhouse was the mission failure that sent BottleRocket the way of so many Soviet test launches. According to Kotaku, words were exchanged between the injured developer and Namco Bandai before the doors were shut. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

BottleRocket: WTF happen?
Namco Bandai: Buuuh!
BottleRocket::(
Namco Bandai: Hay did u guys see Twilight?
BottleRocket::(

Wait, that was a Facebook conversation my 14-year-old cousin had. Close enough: Namco Bandai was unhappy with BottleRocket’s progress, gave the project to the internal team responsible for Afro Samurai, and possibly hired on a few ex-BottleRocketers as well. Again, my story is better.

Where they are now: As mentioned, some of the ex-staff apparently rejoined the Splatterhouse project with Namco Bandai’s internal development team. We’re unaware of what’s become of the rest.


GRIN

Closed: August 12th, 2009
Most recent game: Terminator Salvation
Best known for: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2

GRIN was a successful Swedish developer founded by brothers Bo and Ulf Andersson, who, aside from making games, enjoy meatballs and neutrality. In their parting letter, the developers explained that delayed payments from publishers caused an “unbearable cashflow situation.” We’ll take their word on that, but we’re pretty sure the unbearable wife arm situation in Bionic Commando was worse.

But seriously, Bionic Commando wasn’t a terrible game, though it didn’t sell spectacularly and received lukewarm critical responses. Terminator Salvation was likewise unimpressive. Still, it’s a shame to lose the developer responsible for GRAW 1 and 2…though it does open things up for the following insensitive joke: Hey, can you guess what the 100+ former employees of GRIN aren’t doing right now?

Now I feel bad, so let’s take another look at that stupid wife arm, which was probably Capcom’s fault anyway:

On the topic of Capcom – who exactly didn’t pay up? If the reason for GRIN’s closure was delayed payments, and the last three major publishers they worked with were Capcom, Universal Studios, and Sony Computer Entertainment, doesn’t that suggest that those companies are faltering? Since when does Capcom fail to pay up? We demand details, preferably scandalous ones!

Where they are now: Several former GRIN employees came together to create a new venture, Outbreak Studios. Their focus is on iPhone and web games, as well as downloadable XBLA/PSN games. Not exactly a flashy new beginning, but it’s a strong market to attack.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer
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