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5 Dissolved Video Game Studios That Deserve a Second Chance

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Dissolved Video Game Studios That Deserve a Second Chance

The gaming industry is no different than any other income-generating business out there. Sometimes, business is good and consumers are happy. Other times, when market conditions are too harsh, it makes more sense to shut down. Because of how massive the gaming industry has become, it’s easy for video game studios that shut down to go unnoticed. Developers simply move on to working on the ton of other projects out there, while consumers find themselves a new game to sink their gaming hours into. 

Of course, some long-gone video game studios were better off. However, there are others that we just can’t help but wish for their comeback. Curious which video game studios wouldn't be hurt by being revived back to life? Here are the five dissolved video game studios that deserve a second chance.


5. Silicon Knights (1992-2014)

5 Dissolved Video Game Studios That Deserve a Second Chance

Silicon Knights is one of the video game studios that is an example of things working out great when solo, but not so much when partnered up. Before Silicon Knights partnered with Microsoft, the top-performing Canadian video game studio released some notable games I still look fondly upon. Games like Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain from the beloved Legacy of Kain franchise, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

The Microsoft partnership looked promising pending the release of Too Human on the Xbox 360. Originally, Too Human was meant to be the first of a trilogy of games. But after almost a whole decade of trial and error, only one game made it through, and as you probably guessed, no, it didn’t do well. 

The video game studio tried to pick up the pieces with X-Men: Destiny, but the damage had already been done. Now I can’t speak for either party pertaining to what exactly went wrong between the two companies. All I can say is that before the partnership, things were great, so perhaps there was more to see from Silicon Knights before its partnership and, consequently, unfortunately, defunct in 2014. 


4. Bizarre Creations (1988-2011)

I especially loved Bizarre Creations because the games this video game studio put out into the world stayed true to its name. As early as the 90s, Bizarre Creations released the first-ever series of purely adrenaline-infused Formula 1 racing games within its Project Gotham Racing, followed by the Metropolis Street Racer franchise, before making the dramatic, unexpected shift to other genres, including the Geometry Wars multi-directional shooter franchise, the Fur Fighter series, and James Bond 007: Blood Stone

These games were so good that they helped propel the popularity and consequent success of the Xbox and Xbox 360 at the time. Then came the good ol’ partnership opportunity, this time changing hands from Microsoft to Activision. At first, Bizarre Creations’ franchise Geometry Wars and the new arcade racer Blur did well. Then it all went downhill from there, with claims of new IP issues, interference from Activision, and poor sales, among other less-specific struggles. 

More than two decades later, Bizarre Creations was no more. And perhaps the time for Bizarre Creations’ reign over the gaming industry is long past. Still, you can’t help but wonder what more could come from the studio's “bizarre” take on gaming.


3. Free Radical Design (1998-2014)

Dissolved Video Game Studios That Deserve a Second Chance

Next up is Free Radical Design, a video game studio that especially takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, setting course for one tragic end. Perhaps the easiest games to remember from Free Radical Design are Timesplitters and Star Wars Battlefront. Star Wars Battlefront, in particular, because the trailer for its third installment was already out and quite good, and the studio claimed the game was 99% complete, only for the video game studio to announce the most abrupt cancellation for the books.

Apparently, the game’s cancellation was due to the low performance of the studio’s other shooter, Haze, which did so badly that they were forced to declare bankruptcy. Before going down, though, the company, Crytek, bought the company in 2009, renaming Free Radical Design to Crytek UK. Unfortunately, Crytek UK ultimately shut down in 2014, but dare I say Free Radical Design deserves a second chance? 


2. Ensemble Studios (1995-2009)

A real-time strategy game pioneer you might remember is Ensemble Studios, or rather, Age of Empires, Age of Mythology, and Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds. Being a rising star in the early ages, Microsoft couldn’t hold back from acquiring the studio in 2001. And for a while, things were great, with Ensemble Studios going on to release a banger spin-off, Halo Wars.  

But despite the success Halo Wars garnered, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide, the odds just weren’t in Ensemble Studios' favor leading up to its closure in 2009. Why, you ask? No clue except for various claims like lack of resources, lack of diversity, and cancellations of two projects underway, which still remain a mystery. 

What’s clear is that Ensemble Studios was on a path to success with their performing Age of Mythology series, Halo Wars, and even a specially designed Genie Game Engine. I certainly wouldn’t mind having them have a go at it once more.


1. Visceral Games (1998-2017)

Dissolved Video Game Studios That Deserve a Second Chance

Visceral Studios takes home the crown for studios that deserve a second chance simply for having an unmatched track record of developing some of the greatest games of all time. From The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to the masterpiece, Dead Space, each game by Visceral Games spelled out assured quality and fun.  

At the time, survival horror games were not quite popular. So when Dead Space made such huge waves, it became a trendsetter for an increasingly popular genre to this day. After the critical acclaim and commercial success of the first two Dead Space titles, the third installment came riddled with microtransactions and other changes that didn’t sit well with fans. 

And unfortunately, all attempts to revive sales with a new project, Ragtag, proved fruitless, leading to its shutdown in 2017 even before Ragtag was completed. Perhaps it’s a learning experience, one that can perhaps restore Visceral Games’ trend-setting glory even if under a different umbrella.

So there you go, the five dissolved video game studios that deserve a second chance. Are there more video game studios we should know about? Let us know in the comments or over on our socials here.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.