It’s a sad reality in this industry that sometimes games bomb and studios close. While it’s never good when a studio closes it’s doors and people lose their jobs, the closing of some studios hit us harder than others. What’s listed below are 5 former game studios that we miss the most.
Known for: Mercenaries series, Star Wars: Battlefront series, The Saboteur
There was a time when everyone believed that Pandemic Studios were going to be the next Rockstar. Starting in 2004, they released hit after hit and spawned franchises at a shockingly fast rate, including Destroy All Humans! and Full Spectrum Warrior. Their engaging and dynamic open world formula eventually lead to the creation of Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, a game that set players loose in a war zone and eventually became one of the finest open world games of the era.
However, the reason we’ll miss Pandemic the most is because they were responsible for two of the greatest mutliplayer games ever created: Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefront II. These games certainly put the Wars into Star Wars, what with their massive scale battles and incredible multiplayer matches. It’s a testament to how talented the team at Pandemic was that even the mere mention of a possible new Battlefront game sends gamers into a frenzy.
Their Fate: Pandemic was acquired by EA along with Bioware when EA purchased them from the holding company that originally owned them. Unfortunately, they only lasted a mere two years under EA and were closed in 2009 and their 3 projects (including Mercenaries 3 and tie-in for The Dark Knight) were cancelled. Many of their former employees ended up at studios known for creating first-person shooters, with over a dozen of the them moving to 343 Industries.
Known for: Bomberman series, Adventure Island series, Bonk series
Hudson Soft was once one of the big players in the industry. They released close to 30 games on the NES, nearly as many on the SNES, and countless other games on every platform imaginable. At their height they were even the official “first-party” developer for the TurboGrafx-16 (known in Japan as the PC Engine) and developed the technology behind the HuCard, the storage medium for the TurboGrafx. They were a large publisher almost right up until the end, and along with their classic franchises such as Bomberman and Adventure Island, Hudson were also the creators of Bloody Roar and the developers responsible for the first 8 Mario Party games.
Oh, and who could forget their cute logo with the bee?
Their Fate: After some big financial losses in the mid 2000’s, several key employees (including the company president) left Hudson Soft. By 2011 they had fallen on even harder times and were acquired by Konami, who has yet to release a game using the Hudson name or do much of anything with their properties. Many former employees (including their former president) landed at Nd Cube, a Nintendo owned studio.
Most famous for their Rogue Squadron series on the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, Factor 5 actually had a history dating back to the late 80’s when they released games on the Amiga. Right from the beginning, the developers were known as technical wizards that pushed hardware to it’s limit. They were so technically proficient that Nintendo even contracted them to create the sound libraries for the Gamecube after their work on Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. A few years later they released Rogue Squadron 2, and despite being a launch game it was one of the best looking games of the generation. Their final game was Lair on the PS3, and even though it was known for poor mission design and bad motion controls, it is still to this day one of the best looking games on the console.
Their Fate: Factor 5 had several contracts with publisher Brash Entertainment, a company that closed suddenly in 2008. This left Factor 5 in a tumultuous position, and when they were unable to find another publisher the company ended up collapsing under the weight of several lawsuits brought on by employees after the company was unable to pay them their wages. Julian Eggebrecht, the company’s president, eventually purchased the remains from it’s German parent company and now makes mobile games.
Known for: Project Gotham Racing series, Geometry Wars series, Blur
If ever there was a studio that knew how to make an arcade racer, Bizzare Creations was it. From the PS1 onwards they made some of the best arcade style racing games this side of Burnout, and are probably best known for their wonderful Project Gotham Racing series on the Xbox and Xbox 360. And just to prove how talented they were, they created a minigame in PGR2 that went on to launch a franchise and be one of the key games in launching Xbox Live Arcade. Great as Bizarre was at making arcade racers, Geometry Wars proved that they were just as good at creating arcade style shooters.
Their Fate: Bizarre was acquired by Activision in 2007 and closed in 2011 after the twin commercial failures of Blur and 007: Blood Stone. Several former employees eventually started their own studios, and many of them joined Playground Games and worked on Forza Horizon.
Known for: Dune series, Command & Conquer series
Westwood didn’t invent the RTS genre, but they certainly popularized it. Command & Conquer was released in 1995, became an instant hit, and turned the RTS into the “it” genre for many years. Although this isn’t the say that the RTS genre was Westwood’s only strength; before C&C they were known for their RPGs. Westwood developed the Lands of Lore series as well as several D&D based games, including the incredible Eye of the Beholder series, in addition to many one-off, non-franchised RPGs.
Their Fate: Westwood Studios was acquired by EA in 1998 and many employees left not long after, claiming that EA increased their control over the studio and cancelled games. Westwood was eventually closed in 2003 after the failure of the sci-fi MMORPG Earth & Beyond, and the remaining employees either started new studios or were absorbed into other EA locations.
That’s our list, what’s yours? What game studio closings hit you the hardest and do you miss the most? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter, we’d love to hear from you so that we can all cry together.