Space Hulk Devs Full Control Stopping Making Games

Murders.

Toll the Bell of Lost Souls. Full Control, the folks most recently behind Space Hulk Ascension and Jagged Alliance Flashback, has stopped making games. The Danish studio ran into financial trouble and will soon only exist as a far smaller company selling and supporting their games. Current plans for DLC, updates, and ports are still in effect, but it’s unclear how much we’ll see from them or how they’ll exist after that.

“After releasing ten games with considerable critical and commercial success, we’ve made the difficult decision that the release of Space Hulk: Ascension will be our last one,” Nordic Game reports founder Thomas Lund said. “We simply wanted to stop when we were at the top of our game.”

They were given a hearty shove towards stopping, mind, as they were unable to land funding for new projects. Jagged Alliance Flashback was a bit of a flop and series rights holder BitComposer is in financial trouble of its own, so that closed off another avenue. Ascension has done well, but not well enough.

Rather they cling on then suddenly close, they started winding down in December, and have now laid off most of the 25-person studio. While Full Control is tiny and Lund himself has landed a new job, the company won’t vanish entirely.

“… I have enough control of my budgets to be able to ‘land’ the entire company and avoid bankruptcy,” Lund said. “Even though we will not be producing any more content after May, I want Full Control to continue selling the Space Hulk and Jagged Alliance games and providing community support for several years to come.”

A new mode and DLC for Ascension are still being worked on for release this spring, and console ports are due this summer. Beyond that, who knows! Best of luck to all the Full Controllers affected by this.

32 Comments

  1. PoulWrist says:

    I’m amazed he could even employ 25 people making games that small here in Denmark… the cost must’ve been astronomical.

    • stonetoes says:

      I did wonder if part of the reason they had to close is because there are (presumably) better employment protections in Denmark than the US. So many US companies seem to treat their employees like absolute shit, with massive amounts of unpaid overtime, crunching for months, mass firings with no recourse e.t.c. Can companies even compete when that shit doesn’t fly?

      • Heavenfall says:

        Yes, for example Paradox has ~150 employees in Sweden.

        • solidsquid says:

          In fairness Paradox seems to have switched largely to being a publisher rather than producer of content, which they do an awesome job at but I suspect is less unstable than being a content producer

          • felis says:

            From what I remember, the paradox developing studio is independent from the paradox publishing arm, so the majority of paradox employees is still developing games themselves. The Crusader Kings, Europa Universalises and Hearts of Iron are paradox developed – in expensive Sweden ;)

  2. Chris Cunningham says:

    You’d think that having already crowdfunded JAF they’d consider going that route again. Or maybe just keep hammering out new expansions remasters slightly updated Space Hulks for all time.

  3. jasta85 says:

    haven’t played flashback yet, was hoping for some fixes and updates first, doesn’t look like those are coming now. Sad to see another dev go down, they picked two franchises with some major history behind them, coming out with somewhat decent games isn’t enough in that case, the games need to be amazing to satisfy all the starved fans.

  4. Great Cthulhu says:

    Kudos to Lund for avoiding bankruptcy! There are always victims when that happens.

    Hope everyone involved lands on their feet.

    • Aetylus says:

      Yup – too often small business owners don’t even know things are going wrong until it is way too late… sounds like Lund at least knew what was going on and has managed it well.

  5. Ross Angus says:

    Ouch. Reminds me of this (as with all Onion stories, the headline is enough).

  6. Moraven says:

    Space Hulk was a solid title, more so after patch v1.2. Never got around to trying Ascension.

    • Whelp says:

      The thing that put me (and many other people) off is that it’s just a straight boardgame conversion.

      Ascension works MUCH better because they removed a lot of the RNG elements, and put in many more missions, chapters, and an RPG style experience/gear system.

      • Riaktion says:

        Just wish I could get it working at a constant 60fps (or at least over 30fps)

        Glad they did a Salamanders campaign though, those guys are one of the best yet under used chapters.

  7. Whelp says:

    Nice to know there’s gonna be one more DLC for Ascension, I really liked that game.

  8. Jericho says:

    As a backer of Full Control’s Jagged Alliance reboot attempt, I got Lund’s email over the weekend explaining that they were winding down the company. On one hand, it is always disheartening to see game studios close. On the other hand, it looks like they’re managing to close down as gracefully as possible, which is actually pretty rare for a game dev these days. On the third Zaphodian hand… Their work ended up being nothing that amazing, and it does not really surprise me that they had to make this decision.

    I’m not saying they were a bad company, just that they were a not very spectacular, just “okay” developer with very by-the-numbers, workman-like products. JA Flashback isn’t “bad”, but it lacks just about all of the ingenuity and character that made previous JA titles work. Even JA Reloaded put more effort into taking the series somewhere interesting, despite its mechanics not really working well in the end (and straight-up copying the plot and map of JA2 for no reason other than cashing in nostalgia; that was dumb). The biggest sin of any of Full Control’s games was that they just were not that interesting to play. They lacked that certain “something” that made you want to keep playing them or get invested in them in any way.

    But I cannot fault them for their community and fan involvement. It seemed to me that Lund and the rest of his crew were all seriously interested in making games that people wanted to play and took the feedback and criticism of their fans and backers seriously. Were they able to transform that feedback into useful improvements on their games? In the case of SH: Ascension, I think so. For JA: Flashback, not so much. There’s MUCH more I could ramble on about regarding all this, but I reiterate that I am happy they were able to see where things were going and land the plane safety rather than fireballing into a mountain like many devs before them have.

    Having known too many people on the firing end of crashing and burning game devs, this is about as good a fate as one could hope for for a non-successful company.

    Godspeed to where ever the folks at Full Control end up next in their lives.

    • caff says:

      I’d agree with this summary. I backed Full Control to try and create a Jagged Alliance 3 – but deep down, I knew it was a tall order.

      I also bought and played Space Hulk a fair bit – but again it didn’t really click. But in terms of a product, it was well made and I have no complaints about the quality. I feel they just needed an original IP of their own creation, rather than working with such heavyweight IP.

      I still have a lot of respect to them and I think Thomas Lund presented the company well, despite all their sad troubles with investors and money. I wish them all the best and I’m sure their talents can be better used in the future.

  9. Alec Meer says:

    This is pretty sad. I’d hoped they’d eventually build to doing something great; they always seemed to have exactly the right attitude even if the results weren’t quite there.

  10. ThomasLund says:

    Its all sad indeed, so thanks all for your kind thoughts. I have definitely not wanted to crash the company into bankruptcy, as for one that would leave 3rd parties in trouble too incl employees being owed money etc. But also that a bankruptcy would stop all SH+SHA+JAF sales hard where they are now and fans left in the cold.

    With this wind down model we can get at least 2 more big Ascension DLC out as well as closing it all off development wise with a new game mode for SHA that will be free for all. Still some awesome goodies there that can keep the game floating for quite a while + the 3rd party deals we are making right now will put the games onto new platforms as well.

    An ugly investor exit was the last straw that reset all bank accounts to empty. So even that all games sell ok, we were beat back to square 1 – and decided that we have had our run of sleepless nights, hunting capital and long hours.

    We definitely dont regret anything! And want to thank all fans for all their support!

    • Riaktion says:

      As a fan of both your Space Hulk games, just want to say thanks for all your efforts. Really appreciated. Looking forward to more SHA and any patches that finally squash the performance issues some of us are having with the game, but even if none of that happens, thanks for everything and that mainly comes from the community support and engagement you and your team have shown.

      Thanks again and good luck.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      I’ve not played anything your studio has produced (yet), but I still feel like I should thank you for being a comparative God of Fiscal Responsibility.

    • Lanessar says:

      I just wanted to pipe in. I purchased Space Hulk on release. While it had the normal bugs, it was a perfect re-creation of the board game (even down to the missions and rules) that I grew up with. Many complained that it wasn’t XCOM, but I appreciated the nostalgia for the days in the 80s when I marched plastic figures down hallways and got eaten by not-Aliens-because-licensing.

      I haven’t purchased Ascension, but I will do so. Many of us quiet, old, non-forum types (at least a good chunk of my friends) appreciate your work on this title, and thought you hit the nail on the head. We might not be playing the game frequently, but what time we spent, we enjoyed immensely.

    • fauxhound says:

      Made an account just to say you done good.
      I’ve got about 200 games on steam now, and Ascension is ranked 13th in terms of hours played, happily bought the Dark Angels expansion just now.

      Dare I hope for an Iron Hands expansion?
      (Blood Angels are my favourite, but Iron Hands are second, though the Space Hulks may not lend themselves to Dreadnoughts…)
      Maybe we can finally play as that Techmarine we have to keep rescuing XD

  11. Syra says:

    Your reference of the Bell of Lost Souls was marvellously well used and I’m as pleased to know another RPS writer knows their 40k as I am sad to hear the Bell toll.

  12. Nihilist says:

    I believe Space Hulk: Ascension happened too late/at the wrong time. This was what I expected out of the Space Hulk License. Instead we got a truthful but boring Boardgame 1:1 conversion. It was a bad decision in hindsight. With the SH-Game they surely ruined part of the sales of SH:A.

    But I’m only writing to say: If you haven’t tried Space Hulk: Ascension try it. It is a great little game and exactly what one would expect.

    Farewell Full Control!

  13. Xaos says:

    Finally.
    Good riddance.

  14. mattevansc3 says:

    So first we had SSI, then we had THQ and now Full Control. Is the Games Workshop brand cursed?

    • ThomasLund says:

      I definitely would not say that – the Space Hulk / GW license has paid our bills for ages and enabled us to exit an investor. That said investor has then treated us like ….. and removed all operating cash + lack of luck securing a funded project moving forward is what stops us dead in the tracks. We could grab bank loans, hope for the best – but decided that it was time to take a break running on the edge and letting the warchest fill up again for a while while everyone gets a breather.

      If anything its a testament of how hard it is to financially run a larger indie shop over longer time. 11 years……. phew! My wife wants me to take a vacation, and I think its time too :-D

  15. templargfx says:

    That’s what they get. You cannot believe how pissed off I was to buy Space Hulk, only for them to then release another much better version of the game I just purchased, as a brand new game.