|Founded||April 1999 (original)|
May 2021 (revival)
|Defunct||July 30, 2014(original)|
Number of employees
Free Radical Design Ltd. is a British video game developer based in Nottingham. Founded by David Doak, Steve Ellis, Karl Hilton and Graeme Norgate in Stoke-on-Trent in April 1999, they are best known for their TimeSplitters series of games. After going into financial administration, it was announced on 4 February 2009 that the studio had been acquired by German video game developer Crytek and would be renamed Crytek UK. Crytek had a good relationship with the city of Nottingham due in part to its sponsorship of the Gamecity festival and its recruitment drives with Nottingham Trent University. In 2014, the studio would close and a majority of the staff transferred to the newly formed Dambuster Studios. In May 2021, the original founders reformed the studio, led by Doak and Ellis, to create a new entry in the TimeSplitters series. The current studio incarnation operates under Deep Silver.
Most of Free Radical Design's initial employees previously worked for the game developer Rare. While at Rare, they (David Doak, Steve Ellis, Karl Hilton, Graeme Norgate and Lee Ray) worked on the Nintendo 64 first-person shooters GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. From late 1998 to early 1999, this team left Rare to form Free Radical Design, which was established in April 1999, their first release being TimeSplitters for the PlayStation 2 in 2000. It was known for its very fast-paced gameplay and its particular emphasis on multiplayer rather than story. TimeSplitters attracted attention at the time because of the former Rare employees' work on the critically acclaimed GoldenEye 007. Its sequel, TimeSplitters 2, became the highest-ranked first-person shooter for PlayStation 2 on GameRankings.
Free Radical Design was working on Star Wars: Battlefront III from 2006 to 2008, but it was cancelled by their publishing partner when it was supposedly "99 percent" complete. The cancellation of this title, and the poorly received release of Haze, contributed to Free Radical Design going into bankruptcy. In late 2008, Free Radical Design was approached by Activision to work on a GoldenEye 007 remake. Although the studio rebuilt the Dam Level for PS3 and Xbox 360, negotiations fell through, with the studio entering administration soon afterwards.
On 18 December 2008, it was reported that the studio had shut down, though it was later confirmed that the company had gone bankrupt, leaving only 40 of the original 185 staff still employed. On 3 February 2009, Haze scriptwriter Rob Yescombe announced that Free Radical Design had been purchased by German game developer Crytek. In 2010, the company moved from Sandiacre to brand new offices in the new central Nottingham Southreef development. The £50 million investment will allow Crytek UK to "grow over the next few months".
In June 2014, reports surfaced that Crytek had missed wage payments and withheld bonuses for the company's employees, and that as a result, a number of employees had filed grievances and refused to report to work, and at least 30 employees had left the company since 2011 alone due to a decreasing morale at the studio. After denying that there were issues, Crytek later admitted on 25 July 2014 that the company was in a "transitional phase" as it secured capital for future projects, with a particular emphasis on online gaming.
On 30 July 2014, Crytek announced that, due to an internal restructuring, it would sell the intellectual property of Homefront (the sequel for which, later restructured as the reboot Homefront: The Revolution, was in development at Crytek UK at the time) to Koch Media, parent company of video game publisher Deep Silver, and lay off much of the company's staff. Crytek left it unclear whether the company had been shut down entirely, however all staff were transferred to the new Dambuster Studios being established in Nottingham in accordance with British law, where they afterwards continued to work on Homefront: The Revolution.
In May 2021, Embracer Group announced during their 2020–2021 full-year report that Free Radical Design would be reformed as a subsidiary of Deep Silver with the intent of bringing "the much-loved TimeSplitters IP back to life". Key original members of the original Free Radical Design are involved in the reformation including founders Steve Ellis and David Doak. The offices will be based in Nottingham.
|2000||TimeSplitters||Eidos Interactive||First-person shooter||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2004||Second Sight||Codemasters||Action-adventure, stealth||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|2005||TimeSplitters: Future Perfect||Electronic Arts||First-person shooter||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2011||Crysis 2||Electronic Arts||First-person shooter||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|TBA||Untitled TimeSplitters game||Deep Silver|