Time’s Up: Aliens Co-Dev TimeGate Files For Bankruptcy

By Nathan Grayson on May 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Despite what its name might imply, bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean death. Not for businesses, anyway. But yeesh, Aliens: Colonial Marines co-developer and Section 8 mastermind TimeGate has some far more frightening numbers to deal with than the looming specter of Chapter 11. The short version? The developer’s total liabilities (i.e. the amount they owe various creditors) fall in the $10 to $50 million bracket, presumably including $7.35 million stemming from a fraud suit by Section 8 publisher Southpeak. Things are not looking pretty, to put it lightly.

Polygon uncovered TimeGate’s Chapter 11 petition, which also includes various amounts (disclosed and undisclosed) owed to Epic Games, DJ2 Entertainment, game agency Birthplace Management Group, and online service Agora Games. Also, um, a pizzeria where TimeGate ran up an absolutely heinous tab of $34.80. Those thieving brigands.

Most recently, TimeGate announced multiplayer blockman shooter/giant robot cheerleader Minimum. That, of course, came after the dev allegedly acid puked large portions of Aliens: Colonial Marines’ execrable campaign into existence (which also resulted in a lawsuit of its own, though not one directed at TimeGate).

Obviously, TimeGate’s in the process of trying to bail itself out. Will it succeed, though? I’m not a business or financial expert, so I have no idea. I’ve sought comment from TimeGate, but haven’t heard anything back so far. If that changes (or I hear anything of substance through the grapevine), you’ll be the first to know. Will the pizzeria ever get its much-deserved dues? I won’t sleep until I get to the bottom of this.

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48 Comments »

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  1. wodin says:

    Think they’ve had it..I’d love to know how what started as a bedroom industry ended up needing and spending so much money.

    • Premium User Badge

      Tom De Roeck says:

      Quite easy: compare indie games with games made by EA or similar. Thats where the money goes.
      And no, its not overpriced. If anything, indie games are underselling themselves, which they can, because theyre individuals, not teams of teams and teams.

    • Gnoupi says:

      AAA games are expected to be like cinema blockbusters. Same kind of big effects, realistic direction, etc.
      And achieving that requires a giant team, so it costs a lot to pay for all those people.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrScuttles says:

        Sadly true. But in the case of cinema, not every film needs to be or can be a blockbuster; compare the response to The Place Beyond The Pines to Oblivion. And yet we seem to be facing a situation where some publishers are pumping obscene funds into some of their titles, wanting most them to be Big Names and sell in unheard of amounts.
        There has to be a market between indie and triple-A that too few developers are working in. Though granted, some of the multimillion Kickstarter projects are tonguing that particular perineum.

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          Tom De Roeck says:

          That part of the market is reserved for indie developers that are successful.

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            Cinek says:

            “reserved” ? No it’s not. Egosoft might be an example of a company filling that space, Techland might also be an example. Not a huge companies releasing blockbuster titles, but mid-sized releasing some high-quality games.

          • Bhazor says:

            Heck Paradox is the EA of that market. Dozens of mid range budget games and they seem to be doing fine with it.

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          Goodtwist says:

          “tonguing that particular perineum”
          Now THAT’S a phrase worth remembering!

          • rokahef says:

            Just logged in to say the same, but you beat me to it. Although I don’t find it remember-worthy at all. It’s a disgusting image, and hardly an apt metaphor for the successful Kickstarters.

            But whatever.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            Yeah, he really bungled that phrase.

        • kevmscotland says:

          http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7161-Perfect-Pasta-Sauce

          Bare with it, the reference I’m making will make sense by about 3 or 4 minutes into the video.
          But basically Jim Sterling talks about exactly this.

      • Bhazor says:

        At that price their games are still higher than the vast majority of AAA games (which is roughly $18million). There is no reason beyond reckless suicidal spending for a company to be spending that much. Certainly when their games end up looking like this.
        http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/Alien-colonial-marine-lulzy.gif

        • Shuck says:

          The total cost of the average AAA game has exceeded $18 million at this point. By quite a bit, I’d imagine, though solid numbers are hard to come by. The problem is that indie games have an absolutely abysmal success rate, and mid-size games don’t have much of a market.

          • Vercinger says:

            What do you mean, mid-size games don’t have much of a market?! Those are the majority of games I play… More content-rich than small indies, not as pretentious and consolified as AAAs.

  2. GamerOS says:

    I’m not sad to see Timegate going, not many of their games were really good.
    I feel sorry however for many of their staff, I’m sure there were a lot of talented people in there :/

    • Gnoupi says:

      Personally, I quite enjoyed the Section 8 games. They didn’t really manage to keep a community for a long time (unsurprisingly given the market for a non F2P game), but they were quite nice.

      Sad that they got engulfed in this Aliens game.

    • Scelous says:

      Were there, though? It’s not like one guy screwed up Aliens. I think the majority of designers at TimeGate should consider working in a different industry.

      • mr.lutze says:

        Not everyone from that studio worked on Aliens and most people aren’t designers, they have very little to say where the game direction will head.

      • Zenicetus says:

        The people at Timegate who created the Kohan strategy series (their first games) were very good. Well, everyone except the writers, but good writing doesn’t make or break a fantasy strategy series.

        Kohan games were fun, without needing the full AAA budget treatment. They should have stayed in that market niche.

      • Reefpirate says:

        I give them a pass on Aliens because it wasn’t entirely their responsibility (that whole production was a shit-show it seems).

        And yes, they have made some great games. I’m a big fan of the Kohan series, and Section 8 was hella fun until the community died off.

  3. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    They really set themselves up for scandal, with that name.

    I wish the (soon to be) laid off all the best and swift reemployment.

  4. Gnoupi says:

    “which also includes various amounts (disclosed and undisclosed) owed to Epic Games”

    Epic did the work to provide an engine running on current gen consoles and PCs quite well for the last years. While it saves a lot of work on the developers’ part (not having to learn the technology, and not having to worry that much about optimizing it, so that they can focus on the actual game), it’s easy to forget that it works on a very expensive license model.

  5. magos says:

    They’re using Chapter 11 to avoid paying a $35 pizza bill? Bad form.

    • LintMan says:

      @magos – I totally agree. These guys are going to put their local pizzeria at the bottom of their creditors list, behind companies they owe millions to, to scam out of paying $35 that they could chip in to pay out of pocket?

      Very bad form. Any sympathy I had for these guys is draining away.

  6. solidsquid says:

    It seems unlikely that anyone will be willing to buy or finance a studio which is facing potentially two lawsuits, a hefty debt to pay of and very little in the way of income. More likely they’ll go bankrupt and other companies will buy up their games and (potentially) the trademark for their company’s name

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      Cross says:

      When was the last time these fellows made a successful game anyway?

      • Javier-de-Ass says:

        probably kohan 2? although that wasn’t very.. good. it was ok, but a terrible sequel to kohan 1 and its expansion.

  7. Javier-de-Ass says:

    timegate. and not a single mention of kohan anywhere? this is why they never returned to kohan. kohan 3 kickstarter would save timegate. for shame rps

  8. Rollin says:

    They’ve fallen so far since the amazing Kohan games. I hope someone picks up the license to that.

  9. Bhazor says:

    Ok. Seriously. How can a game company owe that much? The development of both their games combined couldn’t of cost half that and that would assume they had not sold a single copy.

    This is what happens when a game company starts spending money on things that aren’t games. Likewise when a publisher announces losses of hundreds of millions of dollars because they blew their wad on buying out a studio instead of just paying for them to develop a game.

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      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I owe Smiggs the gardener £1.7m because when I employed him I didn’t read the part in the contract about being responsible for his marketing expenses.

      He immediately started an airdrop pamphlet campaign that completely buried the village of Woldsley.

      • The Random One says:

        The worst part is that the pamphlet flood destroyed all wildlife, so there was no reason to hire him there.

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          Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          The weirdest part is that he lives and works full time at Smingleigh Manor and Woldsley is on the other side of the country. He has never been there, and knows nobody in the area.

    • P.Funk says:

      I actually believe RPS had some article sometime ago that highlighted and/or linked to other articles that discussed the parasitic way that publishers saddle the developer with the cost of production to the point where basically the developer is taking a loan out from the publishers to produce the game, paying interest, and then paying all costs and pays that loan out from their % of the earnings from the game’s sales, meaning that if they get 15% then thats where the cost of development comes from, so if a publisher makes 85% of $100 million, none of the cost of production really comes out of that 85%.

      This is why most developers are broke and always on the road to ruin, even when they make great games. This is also why EA can be making so much money when they make so many crap games.

      Thats my take from it. Any and all are free to correct me.

  10. Jason Moyer says:

    Disappointed there’s no mention of the incredibly awful FEAR expansions they did.

    • Shooop says:

      Extraction Point was pretty damn good. Better than the official FEAR sequel.

      Perseus Mandate though was hot garbage.

      • Bhazor says:

        Man everything apart from the original F.E.A.R was garbage and even that was only above average.

        It’s only so fondly remembered because shooters have gone so far down hill since then.

    • Mman says:

      I find both the FEAR expansions pretty underrated and better than the original game in some ways, although they are a little more inconsistent; Extraction Point has much more varied environments and makes some attempt to add some threat to the supernatural sections, which goes a decent way to fixing the main flaws of the original game. Perseus Mandate starts out rough as hell but picks up a lot after the first few intervals, and at it’s best I’d say it tops Extraction Point.

      The only thing I find them to really drop the ball on (outside of the start of Perseus Mandate) is storytelling, and as the “official” sequels were mostly just as much of a mess in that regard (and ironically bring in some of Extraction Point’s twists anyway) it’s not like they’re alone.

  11. Megakoresh says:

    Shame. I liked Section 8: Prejudice. Though plagued by Windows Live, it still had one of the most fun multiplayer modes I have ever played. Also it’s Bot AI is bloody incredible. Never seen bots like that since then. They were literally smarter than players.

    • TormDK says:

      Yeah, I liked Section 8 for what it was – It’s a shame to see it’s developer go like this.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Yeah, I still load up S8P to play against bots every now and then.

      Oh wait I don’t because GFWL won’t let me play the game I own anymore. Which is a shame, because S8P was a really fun game, plagued by absolutely abysmal decisions by Timegate over and over.

  12. Nick says:

    and nothing of value was lost.

  13. Crosmando says:

    Wow, I guess the list of AAA independent (non-publisher owned) game studios is just Obsidian… and Team 17?

  14. HisDivineOrder says:

    Damn it, when you start running up tabs at pizzerias, then we all know one thing.

    This just got real.