Homefront 2 Is Go, Homefront Dev Is Closed

By Alec Meer on June 13th, 2011 at 7:05 pm.

Seemed fitting, somehow

IP! It’s all we really want. IP! It’s all games really are. IP! It’s more precious than gold. IP! Creators don’t matter, only owners do. IP! It’ll eat your children, and your little dog too.

Another Homefront game has been confirmed (to Eurogamer) by THQ, in spite of middling to scathing reviews, which is because it sold pretty well. Sadly, apparently not well enough to ensure the future of its primary creators, New York studio Kaos. They’re being closed down as we speak, with the given reason being “a strategic realignment.”

This strategic realignment involves the IP being handed to THQ’s newish Montreal mega-studio, who will “take over product development and overall creative management for the Homefront franchise.” The Montreal lot apparently lent a hand on Homefront the first, and is currently being treated by THQ as one of its primary development houses, working on IP new and old. Recently joining their ranks is Assassin’s Creed co-creator Patrice Désilets.

The newly jobless New Yorkers will be given “the opportunity to interview for open positions with the company globally.” Said positions may be found in Montreal, as well as Vancouver and Austin. Now I’m not great at geography, but I’m pretty sure all those places are more than a bus ride away from New York. Hope a comfortable compromise is found for all involved.

So Homefront lives, but Kaos dies. IP: it can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until it has another sequel or reboot.

Also being closed by THQ is UK studio Digital Warrington, reckons Develop. The folk there worked on Red Faction: Battlegrounds and the recently announced but mysterious console game Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. The subtitle for the latter must now seem darkly ironic.

Best of luck to all affected.

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53 Comments »

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  1. mwoody says:

    I guess this makes sense. The game was awful, so the devs need to be fired, but since its overall shitty-ness wasn’t necessarily the fault of every single person at the company, those that wish to do so can get rehired elsewhere with related devs. Meanwhile, the game sold well based on the concept despite the game being pooptastic, so it stands to reason that an actually good game under that name would do fantastic (assuming the brand hasn’t been damaged too badly).

    Note that while sometimes you can blame publishers for bad games, those tend to be the ones with cut features or a lack of polish due to time constraints. Here, it was just a crappy, poorly thought out, extremely linear manshoot from the start.

    • Dhatz says:

      preay 2 is gonna be so epic compared to the previous, just like AC.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Absolutely. Homefront was the worst game I’ve played this year — not so much in poor execution, but in poor underlying design choices. I agree with the poster who said this shuttering is probably more due to the fact that they’re in New York, but at the end of the day the team did not deliver a quality product, so it’s understandable either way.

    • Zarunil says:

      @OP: that pretty much sums it up.

    • bill says:

      But how do you assign the “blame” for that?

      I don’t know the details, and it may be that those guys were just all terrible, but I don’t think you can necessarily infer that the majority of the staff were untalented. Or even that any of them were. Sometimes you have a great idea for a project, great people working on it, etc.. and it still turns out badly.

      In this case it was their first game, right? And it was hyped to high heaven by THQ. And it seemed that THQ were pretty happy with it before it launched.. so I’m not sure that a lot of blame can be attached to the boys and girls working at Kaos.. i have a feeling that they set out to make the kind of game that AAA console shooters are now, and they did a pretty good job for their first time.. but they hype and expectations were too high – and the perfect example of an AAA console shooter is, well, homefront. :-(

    • Bhazor says:

      Sadly that idea was “Modern Warfare 2 in the Suburbs”. It was hardly the crazy fever dream of an uncelebrated artist.

  2. krenzo says:

    Look on the bright side. Now Frank DeLise has plenty of free time to make Desert Combat 2.0 for Battlefield 3!

    • Eggy says:

      Wish modding tools would become available. Doubt it though.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      Why would they need to make Desert Combat 2.0. Aren’t all modern military FPS games desert combat themed?

    • RogB says:

      themed, yes. have as much fun as DC? no.

  3. Soon says:

    We’re not firing you. We’re just strategically realigning your jobs elsewhere. Hm. Must use this phrase more often.

    • kyrieee says:

      There’s a reason there aren’t many game studios in NY, the rent is way too high. I’m positiive that’s one of the main reason they’re shutting them down.

    • Bodminzer says:

      Would you describe the rent situation as “too damn high”?

    • sebmojo says:

      “Honey, I’m not dumping you – I’m just strategically re-aligning my dick.”

    • JackShandy says:

      “It’s not an apocalypse, we’re just strategically re-aligning the earth.”

  4. apollyonbob says:

    It’s a shame really, but I can’t imagine that THQ wasn’t partially responsible for this. I mean, was Kaos really setting out to make a COD killer?

    So many things in this game reeked of “We need to check this box to compete with Call of Duty” rather than just sticking to making what they had good.

    Also, I wish they hadn’t bothered with the “not a soldier” premise. You can use every gun known to man, can lob grenades, fly helicopters, and hijack moving fuel trucks from said helicopter, snipe enemy soldiers from hundreds of yards away – you’re a soldier no matter what they call you :P

    I’d still like to see a game with Homefront’s premise – only with gameplay that actually suggests that maybe you’re not an unstoppable killing machine, bred for war.

    • Canthros says:

      In re: to apollyonbob, the silent protagonist of Homefront is supposed to have been a former US Marine, which goes a long way to explaining his facility with helicopters and firearms.

      How you’re supposed to have figured that out from the game (where we’re given his name, his occupation as a pilot (of what?) and nothing much else), I have no idea.

      I bought Homefront on what sounded like a potentially strong single-player campaign. After playing it, the reviews for the sequel would have to glow like the sun at noontime for me bother with it.

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      soulblur says:

      Maybe make it more like Freedom Fighters. That was a fun game.

  5. The Hammer says:

    Huh, a huge shame this, considering these guys originally created Desert Combat, the legendary Battlefield 1942 mod. They were effectively gobbled up by THQ and then spat back out, mangled and broken.

    Doh.

  6. simoroth says:

    In every other fucking business in the world the person who takes the biggest risk stands to make the biggest profit.

    We don’t have games businesses anymore, we have whore houses.

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      Colthor says:

      A CoD clone doesn’t seem much of a risk.

    • apollyonbob says:

      I don’t get it. The business who took the biggest risk stands to make the biggest profit.

      Wait, you don’t think it’s Kaos that took the biggest risk, do you?

    • Garg says:

      Actually I think WoW and The Sims more or less prove the counter-point; both of those were risky developments (WoW was the first non-Diablo RPG Blizzard did and cost a lot to make, The Sims was repeatedly dismissed by focus groups through development) and turned out to be massively lucrative.

    • simoroth says:

      I meant in the Publisher/Developer relationship. Publishers have become so abusive to developers that they will happily ruin lives to ensure that they incur no costs that might hit profits.

      I just can’t understand how anyone in the industry still stands for this; working 14-18 hour days, no overtime pay, just to be laid off a few weeks after releasing a reasonable hit. I see it over and over again. I just left the mainstream industry for the same sort of reasons, but I watch my friends ruin their lives working for a bunch of psychopaths in suits.

    • apollyonbob says:

      Developers put themselves in those situations. It was completely voluntary. Kaos voluntarily sold themselves to THQ. And no, that’s not the only way to make a game. That’s the only way to make a game that costs more than $100 million dollars to make. But that’s not the only way to make a game.

  7. Navagon says:

    When it had finally been patched up Frontlines wasn’t at all bad. It’s much more open Battlefield-esque take on the single player campaign is something that I was hoping we’d see return in Homefront. Instead we get a heavily rail-roaded four hours and less than half the toys Frontlines let us play with.

    I don’t want to be the “popular stuff = shit” guy, but I think that in COD’s case there’s very real evidence of its success having a damaging influence on the rest of the FPS market.

  8. jonfitt says:

    Operation Flashpoint’s nomenclature metamorphosis to ArmA compared to what became Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is probably the best example that the importance of “IP” and “franchise” is not as high as large publishers seem to think it is.

    In fact the origin of CoD was of it being a rival to an established franchise in Medal of Honor (sic). It originally stood on its own merits. (Of course it later became the boring cash-in it is today).

    Homefront as an “IP” or “franchise” has nothing I want. The only things that were interesting is that it was near-future war and the accepted leading super power was playing the part of the underdog invaded country. Neither of those is a protected idea.

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    Gap Gen says:

    I love how some companies don’t understand their core business.

  10. lonewolf80 says:

    At the risk of sounding like an ass, good riddance. Kaos studio never produced any really good games anyway, and their most notable products (Homefront, Frontlines) were sub-par at best.

    • Bhazor says:

      For me Battlefield 2142 really showed up how mediocre Frontlines was.

  11. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    You’re doing it wrong, THQ. You shouldn’t be making Homefront 2, you should be making a Homeworld sequel.

    *sigh* Eh, who am I kidding. As if they would choose a PC exclusive over another multiplatform manshoot…

    • meatshit says:

      THQ bought up the license a couple years back and Relic let slip that they’ll announce their next big non-WH40k RTS in August, so keep your fingers crossed.

    • coldvvvave says:

      Damn, if its true and it is indeed Homeworld 3, I’m going to have to try get into Homeworld franchise like third or fourth time in five years. Never quite managed to, last time I gave up after that mission where your ships are slowly dying from the start( radiation?). I very much loved story, music and style but everything else felt wrong. For me, it felt like “build tanks->build more tanks->Crush enemy base” RTS with no real tactical choice( no mater from what angle I sent my ships they always got annihilated if too few, or my ships annihilated enemy, if numerous) but IN SPAAAACE and that only made game more confusing. I also failed to grasp some important mechanics like capturing enemy ships( apparently, it’s one of the most crucial features), resource management, even proper 3d movement etc etc. I so wanted to love that game :_;

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      @coldvvvave: Have you tried Nexus: A Jupiter Incident? It’s an RTT, and therefore less of a spawn and swarm business. Honestly, it was probably the last beautiful space strategy game I played.

      No, I haven’t tried out X yet.

      @meatshit: And I shall have my fingers crossed, good sir.

    • Iskariot says:

      “You’re doing it wrong, THQ. You shouldn’t be making Homefront 2, you should be making a Homeworld sequel.”
      Oh YES.
      And let’s hope they do not f*ck that one up to, like so many other sequels to great games.
      I would sell my soul for a Homeworld 3 game…
      with at least 4 playable races (including the Taiidan because I want my Quaar-Jet Cruiser back), Larger maps, huge space structures, super mega cool ship design, map and ship editor etc. etc.
      I would sell my worthless soul and add a 100 bucks extra for a game like that.

      And yes, Nexus was also a very beautiful space game with a much more tactical approach. The ships looked super realistic and you felt really in command of them.
      I was not a fan of the alien ship I was forced to command most of the game though.

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    Daiv says:

    Well duh. An IP makes money. A dev team costs money. Come on people, it’s not rocket science! If only they could find a way to sell the IP directly to the customer without involving a dev team they’d finally make some real money.

  13. hamster says:

    IP is hugely important because it guarantees sales no matter how bad the product actually is. And if the game is good, the brand just snowballs in value fueling the next game in the series.

    As for development studios, they probably should stop selling themselves in their entirety to publishers and for god’s sake at least retain the trademark and patents to the game. I’m beginning to suspect that these studios don’t have their own corporate leadership. Not really too sure on the details here but from what i heard Kao was originally a team of modders for BF1942. Well prima facie you can see that they’re (who are basically a bunch of artists) just ripe for exploitation without anybody in the team who’s been in the industry, knows industry standards and can thus negotiate terms properly. Basically, an intermediary; an agent, ought to be hired. Of course, if you negotiate for more, expect less funding. But that’s okay – the only games that take millions to make are AAA (triple A? What are they, stocks?) FPS; MMOs; open world RPGs. I also read somewhere that a large amount of allocated capital is actually spent on marketing anyway but really i think we’ve seen some excellent games perform excellently without too much advertising.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Not really too sure on the details here but from what i heard Kao was originally a team of modders for BF1942. Well prima facie you can see that they’re (who are basically a bunch of artists) just ripe for exploitation without anybody in the team who’s been in the industry, knows industry standards and can thus negotiate terms properly.

      In all fairness to them, Desert Combat pretty much sparked the whole Modern Warfare trend. They were hired (then fired) by EA to work on BF2, which eventually begat Call of Duty 4 et al.

  14. Stephen Roberts says:

    I think this game might have sold well due to an almost occupation-like advertising campaign. That and the subjected public are easily cowed, sheep like dolts (myself included, sadly) that don’t make decisions. They just buy what they are told to. Especially when it gets a 9/10 from Zoo ‘magazine’.

    I didn’t buy homefront because it was apparent from way early on that the back story and timeline to occupation videos would be the best part.

    The starting sequence to the game, on that bus, shows what it could have been. Which is an awesome stealth survival game against overwhelming odds. A Guerilla warfare hit-n-run adrenaline fest where you use wits and planning to fuck up various installations and slowly, strategically turn the tide on your oppressors. But no.

    Still, shame to see the developers getting shat on. Ain’t nothing worse than having to eat shit.

    • LordEvilAlien says:

      things are bad when all you can put on your box/posters is “9/10 – Zoo Magazine”

    • Iskariot says:

      [quote]“The starting sequence to the game, on that bus, shows what it could have been. Which is an awesome stealth survival game against overwhelming odds. A Guerilla warfare hit-n-run adrenaline fest where you use wits and planning to fuck up various installations and slowly, strategically turn the tide on your oppressors.”[/quote]

      @Stephen Roberts
      You are describing the very game I would have liked to play.

  15. metalangel says:

    Ack! I really like Homefront (played through singleplayer for the fourth time this afternoon, collecting the hidden items) and think it’s a pretty darn good multiplayer game, in that it recognizes the flaw of many team-based games on console (ie: Bad Company 2 and Section 8: Prejudice), namely that everyone is going to want to rambo their way around for personal glory, not co-operate or even talk to each other (except to screech sexual and racial slurs). It then structured its multiplayer around this, so there’s no vehicle spawns to camp, no support class to ignore teammates in need… just a constant, intense battle from start to finish that’s absolutely exhilarating.

    I think that’s why Frontlines didn’t do very well. It was an expanded version of Desert Combat, but people who up until then had only played something as complex as the admittedly excellent Call of Duty 3’s multiplayer didn’t know what to do with all those repair tools and bases full of vehicles and unlocked abilities. That will be Bad Company 2’s legacy: it eased the CoD crowd gently into Battlefield, now they’re all desperate for BF3 too.

    As for Kaos, that’s a genuine shame. Still, they have a hell of a track record, topped off with a multi-million selling chart topper to put in pride of place on their resume. I think they’ll have no problems forming a new studio and making something awesome for us again.

  16. Wozzle says:

    Read title. Lol’d

  17. Matt says:

    So the lesson learned here is, don’t trust publishers, because they will fuck you. In the ass. With a hot poker.

    • Dave L. says:

      After spending six years keeping you in blow jobs and cocaine with only one moderate critical/commercial failure, and one outright critical failure/modest commercial hit to show for it.

  18. YourMessageHere says:

    This reminds me of that bit in the Iain M Banks book Consider Phlebas with the cult that eats everything except foodstuffs, the cultists picking up shellfish and discarding the meat while eating the shells because that’s what their guru commands. Chuck the juicy bits, hang onto the chaff. The po-faced, deadly serious plot about North Korea invading the USA – if anyone bought that expecting it to make sense and be an excellent game, they deserved to be ripped off. That’s the bit you need to change first…but no.

  19. Slade says:

    Can someone explain the term “IP” ? As a non-English-speaking foreigner, I feel rather confused when I try to understand the first part of the article, and I don’t think it has any relation with the internet protocol.

    Thanks in advance for the explanation !

    • adonf says:

      “Intellectual Property”.

      Not the latest but a fairly recent transfer from publisher-speak into common video gaming language.

  20. hamster says:

    IP as in “intellectual property”. Patents, trademarks and copyrights. Basically the right to use the Homefront name/plot/character/lore.

  21. Darko Drako says:

    I would imagine that some of the flaws of Homefront can be attributable to THQ rather than the development studio. For example one of the major criticisms was its extremely short singleplayer campaign – one would imagine that was probably dictated by publisher pressure.