Activision Slices Up Radical, Prototype 2 PC Still On Track

By Nathan Grayson on June 28th, 2012 at 11:00 pm.

“RIP Radical Entertainment 1991-2012,” tweeted audio designer Rob Bridgett earlier today. Moments later, the Internet was abuzz with reports that Activision had used its maniacal death tendrils to choke the life right out of Prototype 2 developer Radical Entertainment. That, however, isn’t entirely true. But, while not a full-on closure, Activision explained in an official statement that “some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.” Which is, of course, horrendously depressing. There is one infinitesimally small bright spot to all this, though: Prototype 2’s PC version is escaping unscathed.

“The PC version of P2 will launch on July 24th as planned,” an Activision rep told RPS. A somber yet appreciative note on Radical’s Facebook page drives the point home. So that’s the upside. As for the fate of Prototype as a franchise, well, that’s not looking so hot. Here’s Activision’s statement on the matter, which may as well have come taped to a nail, hammer, and picture of a coffin.

“Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers, however, we have explored various options for the studio, including a potential sale of the business, and have made a difficult conclusion through the consultation process that the only remaining option is a significant reduction in staff.”

So then, enjoy karate kicking helicopters while you can, because this looks like the last hurrah for Heller and Mercer (and any other characters with names ending in “-er” that I may not know about). And now, a rather chilling thought, brought to you by BioWare’s Manveer Heir: “With Activision closing down Radical today they have 12 internally owned studios. Six of those are working on Call of Duty products.”

But that’s sad. In more optimistic news, if you’re among the fine men and women who are out of jobs as of today, Insomniac Games, Microsoft Vancouver, Ubisoft Toronto, Sony Santa Monica, and many, many others are hiring. Best of luck to you all.

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66 Comments »

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  1. Hirmetrium says:

    I hope that Call of Duty blows up in Activision’s stupid face.

    My regards to the men and women dismissed.

    • KingSkylark says:

      Why? So that more men and women will lose their jobs as more studios are shut down? What an odd thing to hope for.

      • MichaelPalin says:

        The “people will lose their jobs” is a sounding argument, but it cannot be valid for everything. If what they do is of poor quality, either they change course or why should we care if they disappear? It’s like the studios behind Guitar Hero franchise, were they realistically expecting to live from that franchise forever?

        Now, that said, it is important to remember that, in the case of Activision, these people lose their jobs because of the exploitative method of production of this publisher, who is the actual responsible for studios closing, not the people working in those studios.

        • adonf says:

          No, they were expecting to live from the Tony Hawk franchise forever.

        • Warped655 says:

          But the thing is, CODBOLPS2 actually looks fun. Don’t get me wrong though, MW3 was actually pretty terrible and dull, and MW2 was unbalanced as hell (though it was more fun than MW3). But Treyarch’s recent work has generally shown itself to be pretty good despite its legacy. So I hold cautious optimism for BLOPS2.

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        Wisq says:

        So that a number of presumably bright and talented people can get snapped up by studios that actually do things that matter.

      • mr.ioes says:

        Codification ruins modern shooters. Which is why I support OP, CoD franchise shall die. If you followed E3 coverage on coming-up shooters you should know what I mean. Even Tomb Raider goes all military/forced story/generic shooting.

        • Jamesworkshop says:

          Using Cod as a perjorative term needs to stop, Tomb Raider reboot – you can’t seriously be saying you can look at that and think it’s anything like COD.

          It’s just as bad as when i saw people saying the next co-op enabled dead space was a COD clone when what it looks like the most is Lost Planet followed by Gears of War.

          COD is a very insular series I can’t think of any substantial number of games that take anything from it Homefront is basically the only one, things like MOH don’t count as they are just as long running a series.

          • EPICTHEFAIL says:

            *FACEPALM* There is a reason people agree that CoD started the Modern Military Shooter bandwagon. And I do agree that it should die, preferably in a spectacular, big-budget fire. Battlefield, MoH, Homefront, and various other FPS are going down that route for no logical reason apart from “OMG dosh !!111!!!!!11!!” and it needs to stop.

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            Malibu Stacey says:

            *FACEPALM* There is a reason people agree that CoD started the Modern Military Shooter bandwagon.

            Yes it’s called marketing. You might not know this but those Infinity Ward chaps who created the CoD series, well they originally made some games called Medal of Honour which were published by EA a while ago.

            Also this exists.

  2. simoroth says:

    Activision are absolutely shocking. They deliberately make demands that ruin a game and then under-market the products to give themselves an excuse to make a whole studio redundant. Its exactly what they did at Bizarre too.

    • Salt says:

      I’m with you on Activision being both evil and making poor decisions.

      But I dislike the conspiracy theory that often floats around of these big companies doing foolish things to “make an excuse” to close down a studio, make another CoD spinoff, or whatever. I’m pretty sure they can just do those things straight off the bat if they wanted to, rather than spending millions (but not quite enough millions) on making a game that is designed to fail.

      • Xerian says:

        I wouldnt say its much of an excuse, but it is Activisions own damn fault. They’re horrid and tend to ruin franchises… Which is sad.
        R.I.P Spyro, Prototype, Call of Duty, etc… Etc…
        ._.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          Spyro is actually very much alive and successful in the form of Skylanders. Though you’re excused from not having heard about it, since it’s utterly ignored by RPS.

      • Simon Hawthorne says:

        It’s probably much easier to support a ‘big business = conspiracy’ argument in your own head if you’ve never worked in a large business.

        Those of us who have worked in large businesses realise that this kind of thing is more likely down to incompetence, internal politics, too many cooks, etc rather than any orchestrated maliciousness.

        I’m aware there’s a prominent, contemporary news story that completely contradicts that point.

        I’m pretty sure that EA, Activision, etc don’t WANT these studios to fail. I’m pretty sure that they’re trying their hardest to make those studios work and make money. I’m also pretty sure they’re just not very good at it – and that it’s probably not in their interest to invest resources/change their structure so that they are good at it.

        This link shows how this kind of thing works – with Flickr and Yahoo as the example (it’s Gizmodo but is actually a great article): http://gizmodo.com/5910223/how-yahoo-killed-flickr-and-lost-the-internet

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      Wisq says:

      Yes, in this sense, Activision are the Fox Network of gaming. The irony being, even Fox has somewhat cleaned up their act recently, so I hear.

      (not to be confused with Fox News, who are beyond redemption)

  3. Bonedwarf says:

    “This group is developing well respected titles…”

    “We cannot have that. Execute them. Divert all resources to Call of Duty.”

    “But all we did was reskin last years game.”

    “BURN THE HERETIC!”

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      drewski says:

      Well respected titles that, y’know, people didn’t want enough to actually buy.

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        RaveTurned says:

        Prototype sold 2.1 million copies worldwide. This isn’t enough, apparently.

        • CareerKnight says:

          This is over prototype 2, not the first one.

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          drewski says:

          I hate to say it but, no, not really. Nowhere near enough.

          If a triple AAA development budget is $100m, 2.1m copies at US$50 is $105m. Even if Activision sold every copy at the price – which they didn’t – and got every penny of that money – which they don’t – it’d still have barely broken even.

          Activision probably made a small loss on the original, but thought it had enough potential to try and establish it, Dead Space/Assassin’s Creed style.

          But the sequel didn’t do any better, so the franchise got the boot.

          5m copies is AAA sales. 2.1m is, well, this happens.

  4. HisMastersVoice says:

    I wonder how much of this was influenced by the possibility of Vivendi dumping their part of ActiBlizz on the market. Maybe instead of selling the whole package they decided to trim it down to Call of Duty and WoW (in all it’s versions, including D3) and suck out as much as possible before the franchises collapse.

  5. povu says:

    That’s Activision. Everything that can’t be milked for endless sequels is tossed away.

  6. rocketman71 says:

    Never a bad time to say FUCK ACTIVISION.

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      Wisq says:

      Honestly, aside from Prototype and maybe one or two other games, they haven’t even been doing anything good (on PC at least) for years.

      It sucks that they’re shutting down one of their only remaining decent studios, but apparently they’ve declared a War on Quality, so who are we to stand in their way?

  7. Iskarott says:

    This makes a lot of sense, when you consider that Prototype 2 was doomed from the start based on game premise and mechanics. A married black war veteran is an interesting character, but not one that a white, 18-35 year old male or female may want to wander around an open world with. More so given his depressive vibe.

    The second folly is that the games mechanics have a certain degree of cruelty and pragmatism that just doesn’t jive with this sort of character. Absorbing decent, innocent civilians for their bodies and some health regeneration? Violent disembowlments and parasitic powers? These don’t work with a good guy personality as they gave the protagonist of Prototype 2, compared to the dark pragmatism of Mercer in the first.

    • 2helix4u says:

      Man you must have played a different Prototype 2 to me.
      Carver (I think thats his name) has the psychopath dial ramped up to at least a 9.
      My opinion was the opposite, that they made him as sweary and violent as they did to draw in those crowds and to fit with the gameplay.

      They gave him a daughter too for the emotional hook but thats the only difference and it doesn’t come up until late; something involving that does change his attitude a little but its a classic “spare the kingpin after killing all his henchmen” moment.

  8. TwwIX says:

    Sorry Activision but i am already too preoccupied with loathing EA.

    • Xzi says:

      I have enough hate for both. They each destroyed what used to be a favorite developer of mine. EA with Bioware and Activision with Blizzard.

      • Davie says:

        I kind of think Blizzard’s been going downhill since 2006 or so, well before they merged with Activision. It always seemed like that was strictly for the sake of convenience, and didn’t really affect either company’s plans to screw over customers in the most creative ways possible.

        • D3xter says:

          Well I’d disagree: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128252
          There’s two things mainly that “got” to Blizzard, the first was World of Warcraft and the second was Activision.

          Anyway I haven’t been buying any Activision games in 3-4+ years by now so I hope they implode on themselves when Call of Duty goes dry like Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk did before…

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Turns out a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  10. spezz says:

    This is pretty much the game crash of 83 redux. Albeit in slow motion. Seems that whenever videogames becomes BIG business it self-destructs. I wonder if there’s anyone still around at activision that was there in 83?

    I’d say the concept of AAA games have another 4 years at max. Last time Nintendo won out with the creativity of Japanese games. This time Valve will win out with the creativity of indie games. At least I hope thats what happens.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Oh please, get a grip. Prototype didn’t sell well, big deal. What we are seeing is a late console cycle fatigue, something we’ve experienced every freaking generation. You’d think that by now people would have gotten the message, but apparently not, it’s always cool to call for the Apocalypse.

      • spezz says:

        Thing is at the end of the last console cycle, there was a myriad of small developers making big releases. Now, not so much.

        Radical, for instance had quite a bit of activity in the twilight years of the PS2. Many smaller devs went on to develop for seventh gen. consoles, and subsequently got snatched up by bigger companies.

        You can blame the economy, or maybe that games with hundreds of millions in capital have become the norm. The truth is we all know what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.

        Im certainly not calling for the apocalypse. Videogames has grown too big to collapse like it did 20 years ago. This time it will be more like a paradigm shift, and Valve’s huge success with Steam shows that it has already started.

        • Jesus H. Christ says:

          Gaming is pretty diverse now, unlike in 1983.

          However, what is in its death spiral is the big budget console gaming industry. Sony is haemorrhaging cash, MS is positioning the next xbox as a media consumption device, and Nintendo is happy make money as the videogame equivalent of Hasbro/Mattel.

          My pet theory is that the big publishers (with the partial exception of Sony and Nintendo) overused marketing and media manipulation to sell generic games that offered little in the way of immersive gameplay. Over time, the $60 game market became cynical and bored and slowed or stopped their purchases.

          New naive blood hasn’t picked up the slack because if someone’s first exposure to gaming is a dull generic game with poor gameplay, they never get hooked. Hence the shrinking market, closing studios, decline in stock prices, increasing narrowness of the gameplay, and paucity of titles.

          Only a fool would invest in a AAA console game company right now.

          PS Look for f2p shooters to kill COD.

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            drewski says:

            I wonder who out of EA and Activision will be the first to blink and make their BIG WAR SHOOTER f2p.

  11. Xardas Kane says:

    But of course EA is the most hated game publisher of all…

    RIP Radical. While I never found Prototype to be any kind of a masterpiece, it was frenetic, mindless fun. hope the guys who lost their jobs won’t be unemployed for long.

  12. pupsikaso says:

    So, Activision is finally starting to dig its own grave? Man about time.

    • Raziel_Alex says:

      Not, it’s not. There’s too many mindless she.. uh, people buying the same “war sim”every year. I’m amazed at the fact that they didn’t turn Radical into yet another CoD grinder.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        *haven`t yet turned Radical into yet another CoD grinder.

      • Milky1985 says:

        MW3 sales were down on blackops i believe, at the very least in the first couple of weeks. Not by much but enough to worry the shareholders.

  13. DreamCleaver says:

    Well, it’s good that it’s still coming to PC at least. Just one question, have they still not spilled as to why the PC version was delayed for 3 months? They said “[…] We’ll share more details with you soon.” back in January. It’s been bugging me and I’ve had a bad feeling ever since.

    • LintMan says:

      My guess? It’s an anti-piracy measure. Those dirty PC pirates can’t steal their console sales if the game isn’t avilable on PC to be pirated.

      Of course, the demise of Radical all but guarantees that the PC release of Protoype 2 will be fast-tracked right into the bargain bin.

      • DreamCleaver says:

        Yeah, I suspect that as well. I’m not gonna buy it at full price, anyway. Gonna wait for reviews to roll in and, assuming it’s a good/decent port, I’ll wait for a good deal (50% or more). I don’t want to support this kind of behaviour.

  14. Jnx says:

    Well this kind of thing is always sad.

    Then again I checked the list of games they’ve made since forming the studio. I have never played a game they’ve made or been interested in one. And I have a very broad taste in gaming.

    • Matt says:

      The Divide: Enemies Within was a great game, as was The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. I guess they should’ve made more games with subtitles.

  15. Jamesworkshop says:

    I’m surprised I though prototype was doing realtivly well both times its been the highest selling game on it’s month of release

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      drewski says:

      That’s nice, but it’s not enough to justify a AAA development budget.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I love the Prototype games (flawed but great fun he said, reductively). but I recognise that they’ve never been smash hits.

      The thing with the current business model of the games industry is that it’s hit focused. it’s actually mega-hit focused. It’s not enough for a game to pay for it’s own production and the production of a sequel. A game has to pay for itself and five or six other game from the same publisher. So many games sink and make a loss on their production costs you need to have a couple of HUMONGOUS hits every year to hold up the rest of your label. It’s tent-pole business and it’s essentially the same business model as Hollywood.

      This is why Radical are sadly getting the shaft. It’s not that their I.P. isn’t good or even that it isn’t profitable. (I’m confident that prototype probably at least paid for itself). The problem is that the Prototype i.p. has not translated into a C.o.D. / Gears of War / Battlefield style mega-franchise. Therefore. by the tenets of Activision’s own business model it’s a more effective use of their resources to go looking for potential new franchises among smaller start up studios than it is to try again with Radical and a franchise that hasn’t taken off.

      • Steven Hutton says:

        And thanks to drewski, for saying what I said in a much more pithy and concise manner.

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        drewski says:

        From Activision’s point of view, if they can sink $100m into Prototype 3 and make $110m, or $100m into Call of Duty: Louder Calls, More Dutiful and make $500m, it’s a no-brainer.

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    drewski says:

    Anytime people lose their jobs it’s a shame, but there’s no great loss in terms of IP here. Prototype just wasn’t that good.

    Can’t blame Activision for closing down a studio that made OK, but not great games, which got good but not great receptions and sold in good but not great numbers. Sometimes a flawed first title leads to a groundbreaking second – Assassin’s Creed is a great example of this – but sometimes it doesn’t, and you have to cut your loses.

    I’m all for sticking the boot into publishers when they do screw up but Activision gave these guys a chance, then gave them another chance, and they just didn’t quite make it.

    • f1x says:

      Thats not entirely true,
      I dont think Activision gave Radical a chance with Prototype 2, what Radical got was probably some tight deadlines, limited resources and some “artistic impositions” like “It has to have more explosions”,
      thats just my guess tho

      What I mean its, its not only about giving money to some guys and expect a blast,
      if Activision actually had a clue they would’ve either directed Radical’s game into something different or gave it more time or I dont know something, instead they are just giving a budget and then pushing for releases, thats how you kill creativity you can’t just base everything around numbers/dollars when you are overseeing something like the creation of a videogame

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        drewski says:

        They got to do a sequel to a game that probably lost Activision money.

        Activision aren’t a charity – they can’t throw money at games that aren’t selling. They gave the devs a chance with their own, new, creative IP and it didn’t do as well as they hoped. They gave them a second chance – maybe with more restrictions, maybe not, maybe with a lower budget, maybe not, maybe with more interference, maybe not – and it still isn’t working.

        This is business. You succeed or your money goes to someone else.

  17. D3xter says:

    What, they couldn’t work on Call of Duty?
    How is five studios already enough??? http://www.joystiq.com/2012/06/15/activision-now-has-five-studios-working-on-call-of-duty-includi/

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    Malibu Stacey says:

    TBH I much preferred Infamous to Prototype. I’ve finished Infamous twice over & am looking out for a cheap copy of Infamous 2 while I’m about half-way through Prototype & can’t be bothered going back to it.
    Sure I got Infamous for free thanks to the post-PSN hack give away but it’s still a much better game all round.

  19. Monkeh says:

    I actually found the first Prototype pretty meh and therefore never even tried Prototype 2. Is it even worth trying if you didn’t care for the first one?

    • LintMan says:

      “I actually found the first Prototype pretty meh and therefore never even tried Prototype 2. Is it even worth trying if you didn’t care for the first one?”

      We don’t know, because Activision hasn’t deigned to release it for the PC yet.

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      drewski says:

      Reviews have it as “more or the same except the main character is even less sympathetic.”

  20. Bishop149 says:

    “. . . . did not find a broad commercial audience”

    Really? I’m guessing that comment only holds up when compared to CoD.
    To rephrase “It didn’t appeal to the XBox360 owning Fratboy demographic”