Embracer Group have announced that they’re closing down Volition, the Illinois, US-based developer best known today for Saints Row and Red Faction. The announcement – which coincided with the predictably uproarious lifting of Starfield’s review embargo, though I’m sure the timing is purely accidental – comes as part of broader restructuring at Embracer Group following a multiple-year acquisition spree, which Alice0 reported on in June.
“The Volition team has proudly created world-class entertainment for fans around the globe for 30 years,” reads a statement posted to the studio’s LinkedIn page. “We’ve been driven by a passion for our community and always worked to deliver joy, surprise and delight.
“This past June, Embracer Group announced a restructuring program to strengthen Embracer and maintain its position as a leader in the video game industry. As part of that program, they evaluated strategic and operational goals and made the difficult decision to close Volition effective immediately.
“To help our team, we are working to provide job assistance and help smooth the transition for our Volition family members. We thank our customers and fans around the world for all the love and support over the years. You will always be in our hearts.”
Volition staff are currently discussing the situation on Twitter. “I have been affected by today’s full studio closure of Volition,” VFX artist Ryan Hoss wrote. “So proud of the work me and my team did during my 7 years there. Having said that, I’m looking for a new position as a senior/lead VFX artist or art manager. Any leads would be appreciated. #gamedev #volitionjobs”
Volition’s roots go back to Parallax Software, founded in 1993 by Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog. Parallax’s first big hit was subterranean vehicular shooter Descent, known for its promise of “six degrees of freedom”. Following Descent’s release, Parallax split in two, with Kulas remaining in Illinois to head up Volition, which was later acquired by THQ. Koch Media bought Volition from THQ during the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings across 2012-2013. Embracer then bought Koch in 2018, reuniting Volition with their old Summoner and Red Faction IPs, which had been flogged to THQ Nordic.
I haven’t really thought about it before, but Volition’s games have sort of punctuated my life. The original Red Faction was my first experience of destructible terrain in a shooter – it had a wonderful multiplayer map where players shot rockets from opposing citadels, steadily reducing the architecture to Swiss cheese. After playing that I gravitated to FreeSpace, one of the grand old PC starfighter sims, and Summoner, a less-regarded but engrossing RPG.
As a fledgling games journo, I more or less wet myself at a preview event for Saints Row 2 – less for the scripted jokes, admittedly, than for the fact that I kept getting the shoot button mixed up with the taunt button, which meant that my character would open every firefight with an Irish jig. I never really played Red Faction: Guerrilla, the studio’s barmy third-person smash ’em up, but I’d always root for Volition when comparisons came up with DICE and their comparably demolition-oriented Battlefield series.
Volition celebrated their 30th anniversary just a couple of months ago. They created a special video for the occasion, published alongside the following: “the future of Volition is bright, filled with new adventures, challenges, and unexplored worlds waiting to be created. We’re thrilled to have you with us on this journey, and we can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring.”
Here’s to one of the giants.
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