2009's saddest studio closures

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!


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.

Above: The Saboteur’s “Will to Fight” mechanic, which affects color saturation and German presence, is cool, if unfortunately abbreviated “WtF”

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

The Top 7… Death Rattle Games
These games didn't just flop, they brought down entire companies

18 awesome games that died at retail
Reviewers loved them, but that didn’t stop them from selling like crap

Game launch sites that inexplicably still exist
Hasn't anyone noticed yet? No? Then let's make fun of them


  • dante1924 - January 7, 2010 12:48 a.m.

    Damn! Now I can never laugh at duke nukem ever again! I am now deprived of one of the world's funniest jokes! Fun fact: While DNF was being "developed", all 3 star wars prequels came out, and sonic has gone from good to utter shit. How time flies when you pretend to make a game!
  • nikrusty - December 14, 2009 12:20 p.m.

    Sniff...DNF :( Captcha- de though
  • oryandymackie - December 12, 2009 7:40 p.m.

    Well folks, we can all look forward to identikit FPS' from EA.....can I get a "yay"?
  • oryandymackie - December 12, 2009 7:34 p.m.

    A NEW Mercs game?! Pandemic, we salute you. Am I the only one who loved Mercs 2?
  • magicwalnuts0 - December 10, 2009 3:47 a.m.

    What the crap? No mention of Ensemble, they made the age of empires series for chrissakes. But yeah, Pandemic, that sucks. While Mercenaries was unbelievebly bad. But Battlezone 2, while not nearly as good as the first was still really cool, and the Battlefront series, never as solid as the BF series was still a lot of fun.
  • DoctorCrazy - December 8, 2009 9:02 p.m.

    Know what’s cool about this scenario? He can get a handjob from his wife any time he wants. I love that quote. :D
  • MaynardJ - December 8, 2009 3:27 p.m.

    I was already sad about Midway and 3D Realms, who enriched my childhood with Mortal Kombat 1-4 and Duke Nukem 3D, but: GRIN and Factor 5 out of business?? I loved BC Rearmed and the Rogue Squadron games! Hope to see a new part of that last franchise one day...
  • FETALJUICE - December 8, 2009 2:14 a.m.

    Hell yes! Free Radical's Timesplitters series was and IS still the shit! I really wanted to play the 4th game they were working on before it got canned.
  • Stockholm - December 8, 2009 12:17 a.m.

    Hell ya, I'm glad Free Radical is being remembered. You guys aren't alone. News of them going out was heart-breaking to me. Timesplitters is one of my all time favorite series's.
  • The_Tingler - December 7, 2009 5:24 p.m.

    Um, yeah, Free Radical? I'd take them over most of these losers any day.
  • demonDogg88 - December 7, 2009 4:51 p.m.

    MIDWAY IS GONE?!?!?! no this bites the big one Mk is going to suffer w/ freakin carrot addicted rabbit and duck w/ a screw loose + a whiny depressed billionaire w/ a night life. why. why. why. EPIC LAME. (and now a moment of silence for the MK series)...............................................
  • rxb - December 7, 2009 1:11 p.m.

    Its a shame GRIN are gone the Bionic Commando XBLA was amazing. Also I didnt know they made GRAW that was a decent game.
  • FanofSaiyan - December 7, 2009 3:07 a.m.

    God that new Splatterhouse game looks good, I love the regenerating system.
  • big rudy - December 7, 2009 12:35 a.m.

    what? no clover studio?
  • jackattack222 - December 7, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    hahah that part about the handjob was hilarious this sucks pandemic was cool
  • lovinmyps3 - December 6, 2009 10:01 p.m.

    Why the hell would we want another Mercinaries game?! And Medal of Honor is dead, accept it!! Where's Battlefront 3?!?!
  • GameManiac - December 6, 2009 5:05 p.m.

    The economy can be such a bitch...
  • xXgodlypunkXx - December 5, 2009 5:46 p.m.

    Mythic just closed down too
  • Rojoco - December 5, 2009 4:54 p.m.

    @ Furyspittles I thought the exact same thing, Free Radical's closure has been the only one ever to concern me, what with being a long-term TimeSplitters fan. It probably wasn't included though because they shut down late 2008. They still deserved a mention though :(. A lot of that team were responsible for Rare's Goldeneye remember.
  • DaBadGuy - December 5, 2009 1:54 p.m.

    Oh man, what a shame, Pandemic, Midway, 3D Realms, Grin, these studios all had huge games and now their gone. Mercenaries, Star Wars Battlefront, GRAW 1 and 2, the Duke Nukem series, all huge games from the respective companies. The biggest lost is Midway, they developed one of my all time favorite arcade games Mortal Kombat, and gave me hours of entertainmet in the arcade with Mortal Kombat and the Cruis'n and San Francisco Rush racing games which I still play in whatever arcades are left, they've also published arcade classics like Pac-Man and Galaga. So many talented people gone because of corporate politics and financial problems, it really is a shame.

Showing 1-20 of 42 comments

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