Volition, the 30-year-old studio behind Saints Row, has been closed by Embracer with immediate effect as part of its restructuring effort.
We knew there would be some fallout from the collapse of Embracer’s $2 billion deal with an undisclosed partner back in May, which led to a precipitous drop in the company’s share price. Embracer soon announced a dramatic restructuring programme, which would involve cancelling projects and closing studios, among other measures.
But we didn’t expect that Volition, a studio which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary, would be swept away as part of that restructuring.
In a farewell message on Volition’s website, the studio explains that Embracer has decided to close Volition “effective immediately” as part of its restructuring effort. “To help our team, we are working to provide job assistance and help smooth the transition for our Volition family members,” reads the statement. “We thank our customers and fans around the world for all the love and support over the years. You will always be in our hearts.”
The gaming world reacted with shock to the news, and many provided offers of support to the developers affected. Some were quick to note the timing of the closure announcement, just after the review embargo for Starfield was lifted.
Official statement from Volition on the studio closure.
I think it's quite something to put this out precisely at Starfield review embargo – almost as if they know the world's gaming press will be busy. pic.twitter.com/jQLsjzwA5h
— Ryan T. Brown 🎮 (@Toadsanime) August 31, 2023
Volition was founded by Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog in 1993, when it was originally called Parallax Software. The company’s first game, Descent, was a revolutionary (literally) 3D shooter which emerged at a time when developers were just beginning to explore the possibilities of the third dimension. Descent evolved into the space combat simulator series FreeSpace in the late 1990s, then in the early 2000s, Volition created the action RPG Summoner, followed by the technically impressive Red Faction series, with its destructible terrain.
Nowadays, Volition is probably most well known for its work on the Saints Row series, the first entry of which launched in 2006. The studio’s most recent game was a Saints Row reboot in 2022, which debuted to disappointing reviews. In a strange twist, earlier this week it was announced that Saints Row would be one of the PlayStation Plus Monthly Games for September.
It’s incredibly sad to see a developer with such a long and storied history being summarily closed, yet another victim of corporate belt tightening. So many others have already been swept away: the shuttering of Fable developer Lionhead is still fresh in the mind, to name but one example. Rami Ismail, co-founder of Vlambeer, sums it up well: “God, there’s so few left, and every next one hurts a little more.”
Read more: Leaving Albion: the epic making of Fable