2009's saddest studio closures

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

Factor 5, Inc.

Closed: May 14th, 2009
Most recent game: Lair
Best known for: The Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series

Factor 5 GMbH, based in Cologne, Germany is still alive, but the division in San Rafael, California closed after the bankruptcy of publisher Brash Entertainment was too much to bear. The long-standing studio is best known for the Rogue Squadron series, as well as the super-hyped but ultimately failed Lair. Before being canned, the team was working on several unnamed projects, and a now-cancelled Superman game.


Above: What might have been

Factor 5 GMbH CEO, Achim Mollar, announced the studio’s closure with your standard stereotypical German detachment:

"Although we are saddened by Factor 5, Inc.'s situation, our corporation will remain unaffected by these developments and has partnered with both old and new friends in the industry who will reveal our upcoming projects over the next months."

Where they are now: This is the interesting part – they’re busy suing their ex-employer. The former employees of Factor 5 Inc. claim that they were mislead by the company’s three founders, laid-off without notice, and denied two months of pay. According to the Marin Independent Journal, the ex-employees are asking for $900,000 in unpaid wages, and more interestingly, why intellectual property was transferred from Factor 5 to developer Blue Harvest, which suddenly changed its name to White Harvest. The suit alleges that Factor 5 and White Harvest are actually the same company, and that Factor 5’s work on a new version of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was fraudulently transferred to the new venture. Even more interesting is that Factor 5 owed LucasArts Entertainment Co. over $4 million. Scandalous!


Pandemic

Effectively closed: November 2009
Most recent game: The Saboteur
Best known for: Star Wars: Battlefront and Mercenaries series

Pandemic isn’t gone, but it’s closed in the physical sense. Due to “restructuring” by EA, the studio was consolidated into the EA Los Angeles studio, though the Pandemic name will live on. The restructuring wasn’t a simple move, however, as only a “core IP team” survived the cuts. According to Gamasutra, founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud are no longer with the company, and about 200 employees in total were let go.


Above: Will the Battlefront series ever be back in all its glory?

According to EA, the cuts are part of an effort to “accelerate our transformation to a direct-to-consumer digital model, and to better manage our cost structure.” To simplify that seemingly-random string of words, EA suffered losses this year and needed to scale down. As a result, Pandemic should now always be referred to as “Pandemic,” with quotes to signify that they’re really just EA Los Angeles and a logo.

Pandemic was most recently developing The Saboteur, which will be released imminently. The buzz around the game has died down in the past year, but based on what we’ve seen, it’s solid, and a fitting way to end the studio’s successful run as an independent developer.

Where they are now: Pandemic, or what’s left of it, is now working on a new Mercenaries game, tentatively titled Mercs Inc.. EALA also recently announced a reboot of the Medal of Honor series.


And one other disaster… Midway

On February 12, 2009, Midway filed for bankruptcy, and beginning in May, the entirety of the legendary NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat creator was ripped apart and sold off. Warner Bros., which Midway had worked with on MK vs. DC, grabbed most of the company and its properties, including the Chicago studio and the rights to Mortal Kombat, for $33,000,000. In August, THQ snagged the San Diego studio for $740,000. The little that was left was closed or picked up by SouthPeak studios, and Midway is no more.

Dec 4, 2009


These games didn't just flop, they brought down entire companies



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer
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