The long-time Saints Row studio is shutting down after 30 years

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Many people were shocked to learn that Volition Games, the venerable developer of renowned video game series including Descent, Red Faction, and Saints Row, had shut down after its formal announcement.

Saints Row just couldn’t cut it in this day and age, partly resulting in the closure of its developers.

In an emotional LinkedIn post, the firm announced its closing after 30 years of producing top-notch entertainment.

The decision to shut down is a part of a larger restructuring plan by its parent firm, the embattled Embracer Group.

It’s difficult for any studio to survive multiple duds in a row, especially if their last successful game came over a decade ago.

Volition, which was first established in 1993 as Parallax Software, has a lengthy history that is dotted with several ownership transitions and acquisitions. The groundbreaking action game Descent, one of the first to enable complete, quick-paced three-dimensional movement, is where it initially found recognition. In 1996, the firm changed its name to Volition, and THQ bought it in 2000. After surviving THQ’s bankruptcy in 2012, it was acquired by Koch Media’s Deep Silverlabel, which was later absorbed by Embracer Group in 2018.

With its Saints Row franchise, a collection of outrageous open-world action games that may have begun life as a GTA clone but later developed its own identity, the studio managed to establish a reputation as a creative force in the industry despite this rollercoaster of acquisitions and changes.

Nevertheless, the studio has recently found itself adrift despite its illustrious reputation and community-driven devotion. Volition tried a revival of their well-known Saints Row franchise after the lackluster reception of their 2017 title Agents of Mayhem, only to earn mediocre reviews that struggled to rise beyond the mid-60s on Metacritic. Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors described the drop in critical acclaim as a personal disappointment, foreshadowing Volition’s uncertain future.

It’s unclear what will happen to Volition Games’ iconic properties now that it’s shutting down.

But a $2 billion investment agreement involving Embracer Group falling through earlier this year was the turning point. Although the potential financial partner’s name wasn’t made public, it was widely believed to be Savvy Games Group, a Saudi government-funded organization. After the failed deal, Embracer Group scrambled to cut costs, which led to the revelation of a thorough restructuring plan that involved shutting down studios and postponing projects.

The first casualty of this rearrangement is hardly volition. Additionally, Mimimi Games disclosed its impending closure. The closure of a 30-year industry veteran like Volition, however, highlights the harsh economic realities of the game industry, which apply to studios with a long history and a plethora of original intellectual properties as well. Embracer Group had been on a buying binge in recent years, snatching up its main assets and franchises. Embracer Group now owns other well-known firms including Crystal Dynamics and Gearbox. However, financial stability in the fiercely competitive video game industry remains elusive despite owning profitable titles like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Borderlands.

Even though Saints Row and Red Faction continue to be owned by Embracer Group, Volition’s collapse came at a significant financial expense. The corporation has promised to provide affected employees with job aid and transitional support. The separation of a once-vibrant creative team is a profound loss for both the industry and its fans, even while it’s feasible that some individuals will find new employment inside Gearbox or the other Embracer companies.

Many consider Saints Row III: The Third as the peak of the franchise.

The legacy of Volition serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring developers and a sobering reminder of the industry’s unrelenting nature as fans and former employees use social media to express their grief and share their recollections. The people who played its games will always remember them, but the closing of its doors marks the end of an era and leaves the gaming industry wondering what might have been.

You may still enjoy Saints Row, the “final” game from Volition Games, which will be available on PS Plus starting next month.

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