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A thirty-year veteran of game development has been shut down. Volition Games, which produced titles like Descent, Freespace 2, and the Red Faction and Saints Row series, has been shut down “effective immediately” by its parent company Embracer Group.
Word about the studio’s closure came on August 31, 2023, via a statement posted to LinkedIn and Volition’s social media pages.
In the statement, Volition cited Embracer Group’s restructuring program, which began in June 2023, as the source of the decision.
According to Volition, Embracer “evaluated strategic and operational goals” and “made the difficult decision.” Though it was not mentioned specifically as the root cause, Embracer Group’s restructuring program was put into place after the collapse of a multi-billion dollar investment deal that placed significant strain on Embracer’s finances.
Regarding what comes next for the studio, Volition said that it is working to provide job assistance to help “smooth the transition” for the now-former Volition employees. Volition also thanked its customers and fans.
Embracer and Volition did not mention how many developers would be affected by the shutdown, or the status of whatever projects it had in development at the time.
Writing to Kotaku, an Embracer Group spokesperson acknowledged that it was a “challenging time for everyone impacted” and said that it is working with those team members “with compassion, respect, and integrity.”
What Games Did Volition Develop?
Volition has had a 30-year history in the games industry. First founded in 1993 as Parallax Studios, it first developed Descent a first-person shooter that placed players in the cockpit of a zero-gravity spacecraft fighting virus-infected robots in a series of outer space mining complexes.
After the release of Descent II in 1996, Parallax split into two studios: Volition and Outrage. Both studios signed development deals with publisher Interplay, with Outrage producing a Descent sequel, and Volition going on to make Descent FreeSpace – The Great War, a space fighter combat sim that became a cult classic.
FreeSpace and its sequel FreeSpace 2 went on to be acknowledged by many fans as some of the greatest space combat games ever produced.
Other Volition-produced titles of the era included Summoner, the company’s first fantasy RPG. Though a mild success, many veteran RPG fans remember a Dungeons & Dragons-themed easter egg that resided in the game’s menu screen, that showed character models used by Volition acting out a sketch from comedy troupe the Dead Alewives:
These days Volition is best known as the developer behind the Saints Row and Red Faction series.
Red Faction was a shooter series (in both first-person and third-person flavors) known for having extreme levels of environmental destruction and focused on the conflict between rebellious Martian colonists and an oppressive corporate-run Earth government.
The Saints Row series began as an also-ran competitor to the Grand Theft Auto games, but gradually developed its own identity over multiple titles, becoming notorious for witty writing, tongue-in-cheek humor, and an over-the-top sensibility that departed from the more cinematic aspirations of Rockstar’s titles.
Following the success of Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV, Volition went on to create spin-offs like Agents of Mayhem and a reboot title for Saints Row released in 2022 on PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
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