Game Over: TimeGate Shut Down, Most Staff Laid Off

By Nathan Grayson on May 10th, 2013 at 1:25 am.

Welp, seems that time’s up for TimeGate. After the Section 8 and Aliens: Colonial Marines campaign dev filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, reports recently surfaced that the entire operation’s now kaput. I did a little digging of my own, and sources very close to the company confirmed the reports to RPS without hesitation. Details are still fairly scant at the moment, but you’ll find a few after the break.

RPS’ main source chalked up the closure to a legal intervention from Section 8 publisher Southpeak, which – according to the Wall Street Journal – sought to change TimeGate’s Chapter 11 declaration into a Chapter 7. The reason? Southpeak claimed Chapter 11 was only a “ruse” to keep top employees and their, er, healthcare company Healix Inc from going down with the ship.

While not entirely privy to the suit’s nitty gritty details, our source claims Southpeak was quite successful in the end.

“Yes, TimeGate is indeed shut down today,” our source said. “Many longtime employees were let go. I don’t know the details of the lawsuit, but I know that the most recent ruling effectively killed off the studio.”

Kotaku, meanwhile, spoke with sources that alleged a similar outcome. The site also attempted to contact TimeGate, but to no avail. Just for fun (and because I love encountering new and exotic voicemails), I gave the studio a call as well. No dice.

It’s all quite damning, though the final nail in the confirmation coffin – official word from TimeGate’s higher-ups – hasn’t sealed the deal just yet. As for the fate of the studio’s recently announced rock ‘em sock ‘em block bots shooter Minimum, nothing’s known quite yet. Obviously, the prognosis isn’t great, but I’m poking various sources to find out exactly what its fate might be. As soon as I know more, you will too.

UPDATE: And here’s a source on Minimum’s future. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking overly promising.

“It’s done for now and probably forever. My assumption is that TimeGate will be forced to sell the IP and assets (code, art, etc) in order to help pay off their creditors. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a situation similar to 38 Studios where an entity with no interest in game development ends up with it, the way the state of Rhode Island now owns the Amalur MMO. Maybe that pizza place TimeGate stiffed for 40 bucks will take it.”

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66 Comments »

  1. TheIronSky says:

    Just what we needed – another promising looking original game that will never see the light of day.

    Shame about the devs, too. Best of luck to ‘em.

    • Didden says:

      A FPS multiplayer shooter that just copied the art style of Planetary Annihilation and cloned the style of Unreal Tournament, I’m not sure it would have been anything revolutionary, although we only got to see a teaser.

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  2. SominiTheCommenter says:

    Hey Nathan, it’s
    GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER

  3. MrNash says:

    While recent games they’ve made have been far from great, I’ll remember TimeGate for the Kohan series. ^_^

  4. SkittleDiddler says:

    Hope these guys can move on and find something better to work on than another shitty Alien reboot.

  5. P.Funk says:

    Another studio closure, another litany of legalese and promise of IP sales to whoever can think up a new scheme to turn a dime on more mediocre gaming fare.

    I hope we’re not surprised by this anymore? Its the face of gaming. I’m kind of tired, like really wan. I grew up all thrilled by the shiny gaming world, now its just as transparent as the political undercurrents of patriotism and wars for not-what-they-said.

    I’m much more enjoying the continuous revelation that something made by an indie developer is so good than the vain hope that something made by a known quantity won’t suck.

  6. Dominic White says:

    S8: Prejudice is one of the most underrated multiplayer games I’ve played in years, and Minimum looked pretty neat, too. Pity that they’re the main casualty of Gearbox’s Aliens malarkey.

    • ghost55 says:

      Yeah. Section 8: Prejudice was boatloads of fun and nobody bothered to play it. It looks like Gearbox screwed them over pretty hard on A:CM too.

      • Flammablezeus says:

        This story reminded me that I’ve had Section 8 on Steam for a couple of years and never got around to trying it. I should probably check it out and see what the fuss is about.

        • Dominic White says:

          Interestingly, it also has REALLY good bots, so even without many players it’s still enjoyable.

    • heavymetal4life says:

      Yeah I was gifted it awhile back when steam had a huge 75% off sale… maybe I will check it out too…haha… to little to late…

    • Davie says:

      Prejudice was the only multiplayer game I played for months after finally burning out on TF2. It’s good stuff. Shame it’s probably pretty dead these days.

    • Gnoupi says:

      They did try something different with Prejudice (pricing it low, 15$ on release), to try and make sure it builds a larger community than the first one.

      Looking back, and having the example of Tribes: Ascend since, it makes me think that while the lower price was a good idea, a better one could have been to make it F2P, on the same model as T:A.

    • dE says:

      Section 8 Prejudice was so much fun. Pity it was split in half time and time again by map DLC. The already small community getting fragmented over several can/can’t play. That and it was a mess to buy them in the first place for the longest time.

  7. Don Reba says:

    “Minimum Pizza” might be a hard sell.

  8. Shooop says:

    You’ll get no sympathy from me! You want sympathy, look in the dictionary between shit, and syphilis! That’s where you’ll find my sympathy!

  9. eclipse mattaru says:

    The worst part of this story is that Gearbox is gonna weasel their way out of any responsibility. Maybe TimeGate doesn’t deserve any sympathy, but Gearbox much less so. But in a couple months Randy Pitchford will start hyping Borderlands 3 and the internet will love him again, and soon everyone will forget all about ACM.

    • heavymetal4life says:

      Yeah its pretty sickening….I plan to not buy it on sheer principle… Gearbox lost me as a customer. Yeah whocares most will say I am just one in millions, but it has to start with someone….

  10. drvoke says:

    ACM might have been distilled shit, but I hear Section 8 wasn’t half bad and I never like to hear folks losing their jobs. Good luck to em.

  11. Scelous says:

    It’s always confused me when I see such an outpouring of support anytime any development studio ever gets closed. Some development studios might deserve sympathies, sure, but generally speaking, people lose their jobs when they can’t actually do their jobs. I mean, getting fired isn’t unique to the video game industry.

    Can you imagine a cook bringing you out a meal that was both burnt and rotten and tasted like sh**, the cook getting fired, and then you the customer saying, “Aw, shucks. I sure hope that cook gets back in the kitchen soon.” It just blows my mind.

    If someone in the video game industry (or any industry) cannot do an adequate job, I think it’s fantastic they get fired. I hope they get another job, just not in the same industry.

    And before anyone gives the usual response of, “Well, not everyone there was bad! There were good people who got fired!” etc, etc, you know it wasn’t one guy messing up the entire Aliens game, right? We’re not talking about an overlooked bug or two — it took some genuine incompetence on the part of the development team.

    I’m glad TimeGate got shut down, as well as Silicon Knights (whose games I used to love (Fantasy Empires)). People need to actually do their job in order to stay employed, and it seems like that was beyond them.

    • twig_reads says:

      Yes, empathy is completely useless, no gain in it, no positive precentage, no efficiency. Also, kicking people while they are down, endlessly amusing.

      Secondly, you’re speaking like Aliens: CM was the only thing TimeGate ever did. It’s not like all the games they did were duds. But sorry, I didnt want to interrupt you, let’s get back to being annoyed by people being emphatic towards people who lost their job.

      • Scelous says:

        It’s odd; I remember saying I was confused at people’s reactions, but not annoyed. Maybe I missed that in my post.

        Actually, the vast majority of games they did were duds. Metacritic score of F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate (which I bought and played): 61. Metacritic score of Section 8 (xbox): 69. It’s nice that people liked Kohan — I liked some of Silicon Knights games back in the 90s. That doesn’t somehow make their recent games any better. The only contrarian response I can think of is, “I don’t care that they got crappy review scores! I don’t care about reviews! I enjoyed them! So nyah!” More power to you. I’m not saying you have to agree that the games were bad; I’m just saying you have to acknowledge that they were considered bad games by a lot of people. They were, quite frankly, bombs, and their unemployment shows as much.

        I think some people on these development teams need to face some hard truths, and I don’t think that the constant cheerleading does anyone any favors. Man, I would love to be able to half-ass a job and still stay employed. That sounds great. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works.

        • bigjig says:

          I totally agree. If anything there are way too many game studios floating about as it is. If a company truly puts out artistically brilliant games and just don’t find an audience I’ll feel sorry for them then. But you can’t expect to keep pumping out bad to mediocre games and just expect people to keep buying them. Don’t like it? Make better games then. And when I say ‘better’ I don’t necessarily mean games with a bigger budget.

          I will say that I am sorry, not that Timegate went under, but because Gearbox seems to have gotten off scot free.

        • Gnoupi says:

          “I think some people on these development teams need to face some hard truths, and I don’t think that the constant cheerleading does anyone any favors. Man, I would love to be able to half-ass a job and still stay employed. That sounds great. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works.”

          Obviously you don’t have an idea about what it is to work in a large software firm.
          You can have all the talent you want, success of the product depends on much more than just the raw “development power”. It depends also on management, QA, marketing, commercial teams.
          It depends on the amount of people in general, on how well the different teams can communicate, how well are the specifications established, how realistic is the planning made at the beginning, how the management can adapt to delays and problems.

          There are a lot of factors for things to go wrong. And in this particular case, they inherited a half made product, and had to adapt to it, fix it, and match requirements which were not their own to begin with.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Aye, lets blame the development team for what could have been crass mismanagement both inhouse and or from the publisher.

          I like making baseless assumptions about unknown peoples abilities too and when they are down and out I stand there with a smug look on my face and utter the words ‘I think you deserve that’

          If only they knew what I do. You can polish a turd if you freeze it first and if that fails then a roll in the old glitter, makes it look pretty!!

    • Chris D says:

      “And before anyone gives the usual response of, “Well, not everyone there was bad! There were good people who got fired!” etc, etc, you know it wasn’t one guy messing up the entire Aliens game, right? We’re not talking about an overlooked bug or two — it took some genuine incompetence on the part of the development team.”

      The project was seriously mismanaged by someone, but whether that someone was at Sega, Gearbox or Timegate is still far from clear. But a failure of management doesn’t indicate that the whole team was incompetent. That they have released successful projects would seem to suggest that many of them were, in fact, quite good at their jobs.

      It’s rarely the people who are actually to blame that go under these circumstances, it’s those that the buck is passed to, regardless of where the fault really lies.

      • P7uen says:

        Exactly. Would you want the pastry chef fired because your steak was overcooked?

        • Scelous says:

          Were most of their other games mismanaged as well? Because plenty of TimeGate’s other games were largely considered to be crappy.

          I’m not buying the whole “passing the buck” thing, particularly because I’ve heard that defense used every single time a development team fumbles a project. “The publisher was rushing them! They weren’t given adequate resources! The producer was a tyrant!”

          Over the years, from the comments I’ve seen about development studios closing, it appears that there is not a single incompetent development team in the entire industry. Apparently, it’s impossible to be bad at coding — It’s always The Man’s fault. It’s a unique reaction that I’ve only seen surrounding the games industry, which is why it always confuses me to see such a universal reaction in response to development studios closing.

          • sweetjer says:

            It’s actually a symptom of the corporate world that the guys who make the rules are less relevant to the actual product and will fire employees to keep their bonuses and/or irrelevant useless position in middle management intact. so either you have very little experience in the corporate sector or you are, in fact, the management.

          • Scelous says:

            Of course. Those are the only two rational explanations.

          • P7uen says:

            Maybe there was a chap who wasn’t very good at coding. I think that I would still hope he finds a job if he needs one, in coding or not.

            Maybe there was a sound editing lady who was the best sound editing lady ever. The same applies.

            It’s just not very nice to hear of people losing their jobs*, so people wish them luck in the future. Not sure what’s so bad about that.

            (*aside from people in government, obv, then we can all party)

          • Gnoupi says:

            If you want to restrict judgement over Metacritic scores (let’s assume that is an appropriate quality indicator), let’s do so:

            Section 8 (PC): 72%
            Section 8 Prejudice (PC): 77%
            Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns (PC): 87%
            Kohan: Ahriman’s Gift (PC): 79%
            Kohan II: Kings of War (PC): 81%

            I’m sorry, I don’t see “crappy” in those scores.
            Between 7 and 8 out of ten. When I was getting that in class, it wasn’t a “crappy mark”.

          • Scelous says:

            Gnoupi, you also forgot:

            Axis & Allies: 65
            FEAR Extraction Point: 75
            Section 8 Prejudice (PS3): 70

            As has already been pointed out, I think it’s great that they made Kohan and people enjoyed it. Good on them. But Kohan can’t save nothing but 7′s and below for almost a decade. When I was in class, that was “C” and failing, definitely crappy. I’d be embarrassed to have grades like that. Hell, were I a publisher, I certainly wouldn’t want to risk my money on TimeGate. TimeGate (or the people of TG) can try Kickstarter if they think they have what it takes, but I don’t think the masses would have faith in them, and for good reason.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      While Bobby Kotick gets a $65 million bonus for Activision’s earnings last year, full time employees who actually make the games are getting fired right when development finishes for ‘cost realignment’ (while also constantly hiring new blood since you will have to pay them less than veterans). I guess it’s their fault too for not being CEOs.

      • Archonsod says:

        Difference there being Activision actually makes games which sell well. Timegate’s best selling product was a PC version of the Axis and Allies boardgame, and that came out in 2004. The FEAR expansions were probably the last games to see much impact either commercially or crticially, and since they were expansions for someone else’s title it’s unlikely Timegate got the full benefit of that.
        Somewhat hard to pay anyone’s wages when you haven’t had a successful hit for around a decade. Trying to apportion blame is somewhat pointless, ACM aside (and to be fair the company’s financial position may well have been a contributor to that) they never had a poor release as such, but equally they never had a really great release either.

    • Arithon says:

      I think A:CM was primarily Gearbox’s screw-up. They gave TimeGate a narrow window to polish a turd they’d sat on for years, then took it back and rolled it in glitter.
      You assume that everyone at TimeGate could make their own creative decisions, when it was probably a management directive that caused it to derail so badly.

      I hope that the employees, once outside TimeGate can discuss the whole A:CM saga an we’ll finally know what actually happened.

      While mild success didn’t make them rich, it kept them going, unfortunately one serious failure is enough to take you under when you have many salaries and no pay day.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        It was mismanaged at several levels:
        -SEGA didn’t perform their job as overseer
        -Gearbox farmed out completing an already started game to another studio
        -TimeGate by all accounts threw out most of the work done by Gearbox and started from scratch…with only 6-8 months to develop from most accounts.

        The responsibility is definitely shared mostly between Gearbox and TimeGate, but saying either one is 100% to blame is being rather dumb.

    • solidsquid says:

      More often they go broke because the people running the company weren’t balancing the books or managing projects properly, the people actually making the stuff can be working their arses off getting it done as best they can and end up with the rug pulled out from under them. Those are the guys most of the sympathy goes to

    • Terragot says:

      I think that because it’s such a small industry – and I’m talking from my own perspective here – that all the people I’ve met throughout it I wouldn’t ever say they deserved sacking. I dunno I guess it’s a “putting myself in their shoes approach”. I know indie dev is abooming right now but that’s a hella risky route right now and having a job still seems like the best option to me.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Small industry you say!

        • Premium User Badge

          Malibu Stacey says:

          Games Development is a subset of Software Development. There are significantly more Software Developers not working in the Games Industry than those who do.

          Where do you think all the Games Developers go when they grow up & get tired for continual crunch time, constant threat of closure/’downsizing’ & 16 hour working days? It’s not like they all decide to become venture capitalists or farmers or something.

          • eclipse mattaru says:

            Where do you think all the Games Developers go when they grow up & get tired for continual crunch time, constant threat of closure/’downsizing’ & 16 hour working days?

            They go to space, of course!

            And then they ask people for a million dollars to fund their nostalgia-powered vaporware.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      I have had bad meals, and while I was upset, I didn’t want the chef fired for having an off day. S8 and S8 Prejudice were exceptionally good multiplayer shooters that failed to gain traction due to some seriously boneheaded decisions that were not the fault of the game makers. (GFWL -and- Steam? First DLC is paid-content map packs to split the community? First three patches require redownloading of the entire game due to GFWL? All awful things like that, none of which were the fault of the people who made the rather excellent games.)

    • Frantics says:

      Wow. Are you serious? Who gives a shit how ‘good’ stuff is? How do we even know? How do we know in 1000 years what colors will look cool? You don’t sympathise at all with a bunch of dudes who’s lives are now way harder and fucked up? I couldn’t give one shit about how good their games are (how pathetic is that if you think about it?). Hehe you one capitalist dude!

      Also amusingly enough I really like Aliens and S8:Prej so far (only just got s8), aliens one of my favourites this year, good shooting with lethal weapons and a good feel to it. Also sentry guns and great multiplayer, takes some time to learn. Helps if you forget what critics think about it and realise the man shooting parts are rather nice. ;) Pity it’s almost dead now. S8 has amazing features such as bots, hold out modes with turrets (and bots!), great multiplayer, a tank with about 5(!) great weapon seats. Hot drops. Seriously impressive stuff. Think it’s ludicrous that devs like these are regarded as ‘average’. Have you guys ever coded a game? From complete scratch?

      Fuck this shit. Seriously. Why is everyone so down on aliens anyway? Always your articles disparage it. What’s wrong with a nice straight shooter? Who cares if it bugs sometimes? Not a very nice tone you’re hitting lads. A bit uh maudlin as you English say. :) Good luck to all the TimeGate dudes! ;)

  12. Muzman says:

    Hey maybe Gearbox will pick up Minimum and finish i…oh, wait

  13. Rollin says:

    Secretly hoping someone awesome buys the rights to Kohan and makes #3.

    But really know that won’t happen.

  14. Supahewok says:

    See several people blame A:CM for Timegate’s closure. I really doubt that has anything to do with it. It gave them a black eye to their reputation, but we’re talking about money problems here. As far as I know, A:CM was contract work for them, so whether or not the game sold well would not effect them, as they weren’t getting any royalties from it or bonuses from it. Their liquidation has everything to do with the lawsuit they recently lost, where they lost their Section 8 IP and owe several mil. And having looked through reasoning for the ruling, it’s really apparent that the higher management at Timegate was responsible for some VERY shifty business practices. That these upper management people also are the majority owners in a completely unrelated medical business informs me that they’re business types who aren’t really into the games business for the sake of games.

    Frankly, I can’t help but think the the Timegate leadership is nothing but corrupt businessmen, and I therefore have no sympathy for them. They dug their own grave and shit in it, and fully deserve to lose their jobs.

    The actual game developers at Timegate have my fullest sympathy, as they do have a history of putting out games with at least a niche appeal and that are somewhat different. I really hope that they’ll be able to move on to other development studios, where their bosses won’t be business scum that cost them their jobs and reputation.

    On a personal note, it’s somewhat sad news for me and a friend; Timegate were based in our home town, and despite never having played any of their games, I can’t help but feel a little of that hometown loyalty to them. My friend, who’s a computer science major, was even planning to get an internship with them farther down the line, before the A:CM shitfest. And although I hope the devs get new jobs, I doubt they’ll be in the games industry if they stick around town; I don’t think there’s anyone else left that are bigger than the indie level, the most significant (in that I’ve actually heard of them before when I looked around) of which are Zeboyd Games. (Cthulhu Saves the World) Either they join a bigger industry or they move up to Dallas or down to Austin. Shame.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      I think your right, they will have to up sticks to Canadia, the 52nd state, where tax breaks make studios viable!

      As for Healix Inc, it’s obvious why a games developer would need a medial insurance company. Games like Surgeon Simulator 2013 don’t make themselves you know!

    • Jericho says:

      I agree. I know people who work(ed) at Timegate and although A:CM gave the company (bad) press, it was the debacle with Southpeak that put them under. Timegate upper management tried to use contract work and publisher dealings in order to generate enough extra revenue in order to have complete control over Section 8 IP so they could self-publish S8: Prejudice. They needed the entire profits from S8:P AND the extra contract work (like A:CM) in order to fund the new original IP games that they were working on like Minimum (and others that will never see the light of day). The lost lawsuit with Southpeak really threw the monkey wrench into that whole plan.

      And you’re right about there being no more major game devs in Texas (unless the TG nomads somehow find funding to start another new studio), so most will have to move out of state or find other, non-game-related jobs in Texas. The state is doing great right now, job-wise, but not in game-dev jobs. :(

      • Supahewok says:

        There’s still a few major game devs in Texas. I was just referring to the Houston area. id and Gearbox are based in the Dallas area, along with a couple of other medium size devs. Arkane and Bioware have offices in Austin, along with Retro Games. (They did the Metroid Prime games and Donkey Country Returns, so not exactly PC oriented, but they’re there)

        Still, the list is depressingly short compared to, say, California or Maryland. I was more bemoaning the fact that there’s no big players in Houston. Houston gets no love :(.

        Edit: And since it seems you know more about the business than most of us do, my apologies if what I’ve conjectured about Timegate’s management amounts to slander. For all I know, they could have just been good people in a bad situation and trying to make the best of it. Sounds like you’d know that better than me. But the ruling on the lawsuit paints a pretty damning picture. If I’m being an asshole to decent people, please tell me so I quit slandering them.

        Wish your friends the best of luck in finding jobs!

        • Jericho says:

          You’re right about the branches in Dallas/Austin, but I was thinking more along the lines of independent studios. Oh well, I guess Houston will continue to be known for oil and medical industries…

          I don’t know any more about the lawsuit than you or anyone else that read the court documents know, I’m just speaking second-hand from some friends of mine that used to work there. There was a Gamasutra interview with the TG CEO in… 2010 I think it was, and he was talking about how TG wanted to use the profits from publisher-funded S8 and contract work in order to start self-publishing, starting with S8:Prejudice. Thus the whole “$15 dollars for a nearly AAA game on Steam?!?” mini ad campaign they had going around that time. This is conjecture, but I guess the Southpeak lawsuit annihilated the profits from S8:P and losing the S8 IP would have been an even bigger blow. They must have been counting on the original profits from S8:P along with the contract work with Gearbox (and others) to give them enough money to break free from publishers for good, and that never happened.

          I don’t know the TG CEO personally, so all I have to go on are employee reviews of TG on headhunter sites and anecdotes from my friends about the work environment at the studio. From what I can gather, TG was a small, close-knit studio with a high turnover rate for cheap “labor” dev jobs like entry-level artists, coders, and testers that was heavily micro-managed by the senor devs and management.

          *shrugs*

          I’m just hoping that my friends and the rest of the talented devs from the studio are able to land on their feet and move onto to better things. :)

  15. Bobtree says:

    Well, that sucks. Minimum looked awesome, and the Kohan and S8 games were great. RIP TimeGate.

  16. DrZhark says:

    Let all pizza cooks learn from this: No money, no pizza for yous!

    ….And I just got an email from getgames, Alien Colonial marines on sale! woot! and a ‘season pass’ for only 10.19. Should I buy it? (/sarcasm)