For nearly four years, every single time I write about the local video game industry in Vancouver it seems like I’m reporting bad news. I wish this post were different but unfortunately it is not.
I arrived at work this morning and not long after, I received a text message from a friend, who is a designer at a Microsoft studio. The message simply stated that Radical Entertainment had been shut down. There was no official confirmation at the time but soon social media networks lit up with the news. At the end of the day, we found out that parent company, Activision, had decided to lay off nearly everyone at Radical and prevent them from making their own games ever again. As a creative entity, Radical Entertainment is no more. An unknown but small number of people have been retained to help assist other Activision studios in their efforts. All of this was summed up in an Activision corporate statement. My favourite line from that was:
Approximately 89 employees or less than 1.5% of our global workforce will be impacted.
Activision just couldn’t state the number of people who lost their jobs today. Instead, they had to sneak that one little line in to spin how supposedly insignificant these layoffs were. This is the type of stuff that makes people hate corporations and corporate PR talk. I’m sure that every single one of those 89 people who lost their jobs today will sleep better tonight knowing their layoffs “only” represented less than 1.5% of Activision’s workers worldwide.
I’ve been an unfortunate witness to many studios closing down in Vancouver but Radical Entertainment will always hold a special place in video game history in this city. For one, Radical operated for over twenty years. In the video game business, there are just a handful of studios that are twenty years or more years old. For Vancouver, outside of EA, no one even came to close to Radical’s longevity. Many people have worked for Radical over the course of the two decades. I had the honour of attending their twentieth anniversary party in November of 2011 and I was amazed at the number of people who once toiled for Radical. Even people whom I had worked with before and knew for years surprised me with the revelation that they had at one time been there. Radical developed a long and rich history within the video game world. It’s a sad sign that even a studio like theirs couldn’t make it in the world we live in today.
As many of you, my loyal readers, know I worked for Radical for over eight months in 2011. I have written many good things about my experience there. All you have to do is type in “Radical” in the search box in the upper right hand corner and you’ll see those posts. I feel quite lucky this evening to have been afforded the honour of working there before they were shut down. To all my former co-workers at Radical, it was a pleasure working with you and I hope everyone finds renewed success in the near future.