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


  • Eenieboy - December 4, 2009 7:55 p.m.

    Some of this has made me genuinely sad :( My heart goes out...
  • Corsair89 - December 4, 2009 7:59 p.m.

    What about Deadline Games? They made Chili con Carnage and Total Overdose. They most recent game was Watchmen: The End is Nigh. What really makes this sad is that Faith and a .45 is dead, which is too bad because that game looked really interesting. Who wouldn't want Gears of War style gameplay set in the Great Depression with two Bonnie and Clyde style bank robbers as protagonists?! That would've been awesome!
  • iKOemos - December 4, 2009 8 p.m.

    So many people have lost their jobs. :( I hope all of them get back on their feet and continue to deliver kickass games.
  • Xplosive59 - December 4, 2009 8:30 p.m.

    aww i was looking forward to battlefront 3
  • dakranii - December 4, 2009 9:15 p.m.

    The saddest for me was Ensemble Studios, which closed in the early part of the year. Aside from Goldeneye, I spent my most of my college years playing Age of Empires. I loved that game and still do (despite them putting Alexander the Great in the Trojan War?!).
  • GrenadeSpamAndSausages - December 4, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    pandemic has to be the saddest and with todays technology a batllefront 3 could have been turned into the most epic online game ever
  • FlyWire2 - December 4, 2009 11:37 p.m.

    RIP Pandemic: 2002 - 2007, They died once they joined that infamous posionous snake called "Electronic Crap". I knew this a long time ago but theres a little group of fans waiting for Pandemic's comeback... ...Thats the Pandemic's Forum itself waiting...
  • skyguy343 - December 5, 2009 12:06 a.m.

    oh Pandemic, you will always hold a place in my heart.<3 hopefully Team Ico can survive 2010 and more
  • FantasticMrStarFox - December 5, 2009 12:12 a.m.

    so many games that couldve been. no more pandemic. :(
  • mentalityljs - December 5, 2009 12:19 a.m.

    What always happens when devs close their doors? The best of the best team up and pump out the coolest shit! This is history in the making :)
  • barrage7667 - December 5, 2009 12:21 a.m.

    sad tht pandemic is gone but as long as activision and insomniac are still around i will be happy :D
  • Wizrai - December 5, 2009 12:26 a.m.

    @mentalityljs Yeah, at least maybe some of these veterans will team up and do something like Realtime Worlds did.
  • TrIp13G - December 5, 2009 12:29 a.m.

    3DRealms made Prey, didn't they? Or was that just a distribution deal?
  • onewingedantista - December 5, 2009 1:54 a.m.

    R.I.P. Pandemic. My dreams of a Battlefront III have been well and truly crushed.
  • mentalityljs - December 5, 2009 2:06 a.m.

    @ Wizrai Oh hell yeah, APB looks and sounds fucking SWEET! ReCaptcha: Madison drunkest No, no, no. It's here in Milwaukee that's the drunkest. Madison's got the stoners :P
  • Cwf2008 - December 5, 2009 2:11 a.m.

    Sad but at the same time no uncommon in this day...still...FUCK YOU EA. You had to kill off Pandemic didnt you? Will we ever get Battlefront 3? And seeing as Pandemic wont be in charge i dont see it becoming the greatest game of all time like it should be if it ever exists...=*(
  • Furyspittles - December 5, 2009 3:27 a.m.

    What, no Free Radical? The...absorption(?) of Free Radical into Crytek was the saddest thing that's ever happened in my life. I'm not even joking. The complete eradication of both Battlefront III and the next Timesplitters in one fell swoop nearly even made me cry. And yeah, my understanding may be a little off, but I thought Pandemic wasn't responsible at all for Battlefront anymore seeing Free Radical was working on the third one. So, yeah, I don't even care about Pandemic closing. Hurray for apathy!
  • Yeager1122 - December 5, 2009 4:46 a.m.

    I didnt know that happened to pandemic now im sad:(
  • Cyberninja - December 5, 2009 5:39 a.m.

    i bet EA will make a crap starwars bf3
  • JakkedGamer - December 5, 2009 7:03 a.m.

    R.I.P 3D Realms, u will be missed most of all. I have been waiting for duke 2 return FOREVER. Now all I have left is Duke 3D on the Xbox Live arcade. HAIL TO THE KING BABY!

Showing 1-20 of 42 comments

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