Radical Entertainment Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FoundedSeptember 1991; 30 years ago (1991-09)
Founders
  • Rory Armes
  • Dave Davis
  • Ian Wilkinson
Headquarters,
Canada
Products
Parent

Radical Entertainment Inc. is a Canadian video game developer based in Vancouver. The studio is best known for developing The Simpsons: Hit & Run, Prototype and Prototype 2, as well as entries in the Crash Bandicoot franchise. Radical Entertainment was founded in September 1991 by Rory Armes. Dave Davis, and Ian Wilkinson. It was acquired by Vivendi Games in 2005 and transferred to Activision in 2008. The studio faced significant layoffs in 2010 and 2012, with the latter causing it to cease development of original games and only support other Activision studios.

History

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1991–2000: Origin and early history

Former Radical Entertainment logo used from 1991 to 1999.
Former Radical Entertainment logo used from 1991 to 1999.

Radical Entertainment co-founders Ian Wilkinson and Rory Armes previously worked for Distinctive Software during the late 1980s. When Distinctive Software was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1991, Wilkinson and Armes took the opportunity to form their own company.[1] Radical Entertainment was established in September 1991 in the Yaletown district of Vancouver.[2][3] The studio primarily developed Nintendo Entertainment System ports and adaptations of other video games, peaking at eight projects in 1994.

Mike Ribero left his position as Sega of America's vice president of sales and marketing to become CEO of Radical Entertainment in 1996.[4] Following the 1996 release of The Divide: Enemies Within, programmer Alex Garden and composer Paul Ruskay would leave Radical Entertainment to respectively establish the game developer Relic Entertainment and the audio facility Studio Labs X.[5] Between 1997 and 1998, several employees left the studio to form Barking Dog Studios. MTV Sports: Pure Ride, a snowboarding game published by THQ, was released on September 28, 2000.[6]

2001–2005: Mainstream success

On 11 May 2001, Radical Entertainment and SPY Wireless Media announced an agreement to develop a wireless content management solution enabling SPY's partners and customers to develop new revenue and promotional opportunities by delivering interactive services to the youth market using wireless devices such as cell phones.[7] At E3 2001, Radical Entertainment unveiled The Simpsons: Road Rage, a story-based driving game based on the popular animated series The Simpsons and co-published by Electronic Arts and Fox Interactive,[8] as well as Dark Summit, another THQ-published snowboarding game unique in its action-adventure elements.[9] On 15 August 2001, Radical Entertainment announced the development of a demo application and white paper for Nintendo's upcoming GameCube console. The demo utilized key features of Radical's proprietary Pure3D game engine, while the accompanying white paper provided information on Radical's technical expertise to other game companies.[10] Dark Summit and The Simpsons: Road Rage were released in November 2001.[11][12] The Simpsons: Road Rage was one of the top ten most rented titles of December 2001 in North America, generating over $500,000 in rental fees for video and game rental outlets in a single week.[13]

In 2003, Radical Entertainment opened a development division, 369 Interactive, which was set to develop multiple titles based on the CSI franchise, in partnership with Ubi Soft.

2005–2008: Acquisition by Vivendi Universal

Although Radical Entertainment developed few titles for Vivendi Universal Entertainment, the titles gained massive success and warranted the company's interest in the developers. In 2005, Vivendi acquired Radical Entertainment; however, as described by a former developer at Radical, the mood did not change much and Radical still operated as an independent game developing company. After being acquired by Vivendi, Radical began to make many games such as Scarface: The World Is Yours and The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction while being published under Vivendi's Sierra Entertainment label. Radical was also given the license to continue development of the Crash Bandicoot franchise which was also published under Sierra Entertainment. Radical took over the development of Crash Tag Team Racing from Traveller's Tales. Due to the success of Crash Tag Team Racing, Radical started the development of Crash of the Titans and proclaimed that "Crash was home at Radical" stating that Radical would develop all further Crash games. The critical and commercial success of Crash of the Titans spawned one more sequel, Crash: Mind over Mutant, which managed to both critically beat its predecessor as well as commercially. During the development of Crash: Mind Over Mutant, Radical began working on Prototype.

2008–present: Acquisition by Activision, Prototype games, and layoffs

When Vivendi Games merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard in 2008, Vivendi's former studios, including Radical Entertainment, became part of Activision.[14] At the time, Radical Entertainment was developing four games, including Crash: Mind Over Mutant and Prototype. Activision laid off circa 100 people, half of the studio's staff, and canceled the two unannounced projects.[15][16] One of these was Treadstone, a game set in the Jason Bourne universe. Activision was not interested in the property and sold it back to Ludlum Entertainment, which subsequently licensed it to Electronic Arts.[17][18]

In February 2010, Activision laid off around 200 developers from its studios, including roughly 90 at Radical Entertainment, equating to half of the studio's workforce at the time.[19][20] A sequel to Prototype, Prototype 2, was released in April 2012. In the United States, it was the best-selling game of its release month.[21] However, Activision considered the game a commercial failure; on 28 June 2012, the company announced a "significant reduction in staff" at Radical Entertainment that would see the studio cease development of its own games and only support other Activision studios going forward.[22] While some reports, including that of former Radical Entertainment senior audio director Rob Bridgett, indicated that the studio had closed, Activision stated that the would remain open with the reduced staff.[23] Activision and Radical Entertainment re-iterated this statement in September that year.[24] The Microsoft Windows port of Prototype 2 was released in July 2012.[25] On 15 December 2013, Radical Entertainment's incorporated status was dissolved by the Canadian government for non-compliance under section 212 of the Canadian Business Corporations Act.[26] Its most recent credited development role was as a support studio for Destiny, released in 2014.[27] Radical Entertainment was among the studios named in Microsoft's 2022 acquisition of Activision's parent company Activision Blizzard.[28]

Organization

Radical Entertainment practiced open and regular communication between management and employees; the company's president sent an e-mail to all staff on a bi-weekly basis, and staff input on all company facets was sought, ranging from what technologies to adopt to what food was stocked in the kitchen. In addition, the chief financial officer conducted a quarterly seminar to present the company's financial performance, allowing employees to understand where the company was making and spending its revenues. The company also implemented progressive human resource management practices such as core hours, providing a salary top-up to 3-months full pay for maternity leave, and utilizing an intellectual property review process to generate new ideas from among employees.[29] This review process, named the "Idea Review Senate", was conducted by a team of nine employees headed by creative director Stephen Van Der Mescht. Ideas that were not recommended for development were passed back to the employee, who retained all rights to the property and could develop it independently or sell it to another company.[30]

Radical Entertainment maintained an in-house research and development team directed by Dave Forsey. In September 1998, the team completed a Industrial Research Assistance Program assignment funded by a $350,000 federal grant. The project entailed several technological advances involving arbitrary topology on hierarchical surfaces, including the development of hierarchical splines in 3D Studio MAX and Autodesk Maya. This development allowed for the creation of localized detail on animated characters, and the release of the commercial graphics software Rodin based on this work.[31] In March 2000, the team received a renewable $200,000 BC Science Council grant for the development of an internal game engine library and associated tools to streamline library pipelines.[32] In 2001, Forsey and two of his colleagues in the company were recruited by the University of Calgary to develop and teach an undergraduate-level course in video game programming. The course, considered the first of its kind, was aimed at final-year computer science students and tasked them with designing and implementing a video game prototype.[33] In the fall of 2001, several other employees taught a similar class at the University of British Columbia as a response to an impending labour crisis in Canada.[34]

Accolades

On 13 December 2000, the National Post named Radical Entertainment one of Canada's top 50 best managed private companies, a distinction granted to private Canadian companies with over $5 million in revenue and which have demonstrated strong growth in the past three years.[29] On 5 October 2001, the company's president and CEO Ian Wilkinson received Ernst & Young's 2001 Media and Entertainment Entrepreneur of the Year.[35]

Games developed

Year Title Publisher Platform(s) Ref.
1992 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends THQ Nintendo Entertainment System [36]
The Terminator Mindscape [36]
1993 The Battle of Olympus Broderbund Game Boy [36]
Mario Is Missing! The Software Toolworks Nintendo Entertainment System
Wayne's World THQ Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System [36]
Pelé! Accolade Sega Genesis [36]
1994 Brett Hull Hockey Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Bébé's Kids Motown Software
Mario's Time Machine The Software Toolworks Nintendo Entertainment System [36]
Pelé II: World Tournament Soccer Accolade Sega Genesis
Mountain Bike Rally ASC Games Super Nintendo Entertainment System [36]
Al Unser Jr.'s Road to the Top The Software Toolworks [36]
Beavis and Butt-Head Viacom New Media Sega Genesis [36]
Speed Racer in My Most Dangerous Adventures Accolade Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1995 Brett Hull Hockey '95 Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System [36]
1996 The Divide: Enemies Within Viacom New Media Microsoft Windows, PlayStation [36]
Power Piggs of the Dark Age Titus Software Super Nintendo Entertainment System
NHL Powerplay '96 Virgin Interactive Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn [36]
Grid Runner [36]
1997 Independence Day Fox Interactive [36]
NHL Powerplay 98 / NHL All-Star Hockey 98 Virgin Interactive / Sega
1998 X Games Pro Boarder Electronic Arts Microsoft Windows, PlayStation [36]
1999 Blood Lines Sony Computer Entertainment Europe PlayStation
MTV Sports: Snowboarding THQ [3]
NBA Basketball 2000 Fox Interactive Microsoft Windows, PlayStation [36]
NHL Championship 2000 [36]
2000 Jackie Chan Stuntmaster Midway Games PlayStation [36]
MTV Sports: Pure Ride THQ [36]
2001 Dark Summit GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox [36]
The Simpsons: Road Rage Electronic Arts [36]
2002 Tetris Worlds THQ GameCube, Xbox [36]
Monsters, Inc. Scream Arena GameCube [36]
James Cameron's Dark Angel Sierra Entertainment PlayStation 2, Xbox [36]
2003 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Ubi Soft Microsoft Windows, Xbox [36]
Hulk Vivendi Universal Games Microsoft Windows, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox [36]
The Simpsons: Hit & Run [36]
2004 CSI: Dark Motives Ubi Soft Microsoft Windows [36]
CSI: Miami [36]
2005 The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Vivendi Universal Games GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox [36]
Crash Tag Team Racing GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable [36]
2006 Scarface: The World Is Yours Vivendi Games Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Wii, Xbox [36]
2007 Crash of the Titans PlayStation 2, Wii, Xbox 360 [36]
2008 Crash: Mind over Mutant Activision [36]
2009 Prototype Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [36]
2012 Prototype 2 [36]
2014 Destiny (as a support team for Bungie) Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [37]

Canceled games

Year Title Platform(s)
1994 Brett Hull Hockey Sega Genesis
1995 RHI Roller Hockey '95 Super Nintendo Entertainment System
2001 A.I. The Circuit or A.I. Gladiator[38] Xbox
2006 Scarface: The World Is Yours[39] Xbox 360
~2007 The Simpsons: Hit & Run 2[40] Unknown
2008 Scarface 2 Unknown
Treadstone[17]
2010 I Am Crash Bandicoot, Crash 2010 or Crash Landed[38] PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
2011 Spider-Man 4 PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2012 Prototype 3[38] PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

References

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