Free Radical Founder Steve Ellis Opens New StudioDecember 19th, 2008 | Written by Anthony Perez | Topic: Industry News
As reported earlier today, our own Michael Bunning was able to talk with an employee from Free Radical Design about the studio’s rumored closing. During that interview, the source we spoke with talked about Free Radical founder Steve Ellis’ plans for a new game development studio named Pumpkin Beach. According to our source, Steve Ellis has taken about 20 Free Radical employees with him.
“Pumpkin Beach was set up a few months ago actually. The project was worked on in-house at FRD for a while. Then we were told that because the project was going to be quite different from Free Radical’s previous games, they were setting up a new company, sort of a new label for the game, to avoid the associations with TimeSplitters and Haze. As for the Lucasarts thing, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I know I was working on the Lucasarts game until very recently.”
We did a little research about Pumpkin Beach and found a domain registered through Whois.net for PumpkinBeach.com. The registrant? Steve Ellis.
2 Church Lane
Nottingham, Notts NG16 2RW
This seems to all but confirm such plans for Pumpkin Beach, and Steve Ellis’ involvement with the new company. Additionally, there have been a few other reports popping up about Pumpkin Beach elsewhere, including the Unofficial Free Radical Design Blog. We are unsure of who authors the site.
Sources explain Dave Doak had left Free Radical Design a month ago. He and Steve Ellis are now looking at creating a new game developer company called Pumpkin Beach. Little is known about their plans for this company but a website, http://www.pumpkinbeach.com/, has been reserved. It is possible TimeSplitters 4 could be sold to this new company. Maybe this new company was created as a rescue for TimeSplitters 4 but the lack of publisher support makes the idea a risky one.
During the meeting roughly 20 staff positions were offered into the new company for people at Free Radical Design. Codemasters and Monumental Games were also at the hotel used to hold the meeting to ask for CVs and applications for anyone who was interested.
The drama around the closing of the Haze and TimeSplitters developer has been a whirlwind of speculation, but it’s not all that surprising. There has been no official statements about Haze’s sales, but it was trounced by the gaming press. We rated Haze a 5.3 following its release in May, and the vast majority of other gaming publications did the same as the game currently holds a rating of 55 out of 100 on review aggregation site Metacritic.com.
Scores aren’t always indicative of sales, as the whopping sales of the atrocious 50 Cent: Bulletproof has proven. But that game had the backing of a celebrity, while Haze was an original IP from a developer who hadn’t yet released a blockbuster hit. And considering the state of today’s global economy, this is just the way things go.