End of an era: If you play video games, you’ve probably heard of a small studio called Volition. The development team started as Parallax Software in 1993 and had breakthrough success in 1995 with their first game, Descent. In 2006, the company developed one of its most famous IPs, Saints Row. The series was known for its black humor and daring style. Fans will mourn the loss of the studio as it closes today. RIP Volition.
Saints Row developer Volition no longer exists. The studio on Thursday announced that its parent company, Embracer Group, has shut down the developer “effective immediately.” The closure came after Embracer announced restructuring plans in June.
“Last June, Embracer Group announced a restructuring program to strengthen Embracer and maintain its position as a leader in the video game industry,” a studio spokesperson wrote. “As part of this program, they evaluated strategic and operational objectives and made the difficult decision to close Volition effective immediately.”
Volition promised the affected employees help with finding a job.
The restructuring plans came about after a $2 billion investment deal fell through. While holding company Embracer never revealed who it was in talks with, Axios claims The angel investor was Savvy Games Group, the gaming division of the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia. Unable to raise funds, Embarcer announced a restructuring plan that included cutting the budget, pausing development of some games and hiring others, and selling or closing some of its holdings.
Unfortunately, Volition seems to have been first on the chopping block, which is a shame. The studio has been producing games since the early 1990s. While it’s probably best known for the Saints Row franchise, it’s also been responsible for the well-received Summoner, Red Faction, and their sequels.
Volition’s first game was 1995’s Descent, released on MS-DOS, PlayStation, Mac, and RISC OS. The studio was then called Parallax Software, and Descent was the first true 3D game to offer six degrees of motion. The game was so popular that it spawned several sequels, including a spiritual sequel released in 2018 overload. It recently garnered attention when game design students in the Netherlands added ray tracing support to the classic shooter, breathing new life into the almost 30-year-old title.
The latest game from Volition was the Saints Row 2022 reboot. The title was met with controversy almost immediately after its release. The studio had decided to take the franchise in a different direction, leading to divided opinion among fans. Critical reception has been equally polarized, receiving mediocre reviews from critics, low scores from players, and a review bomb on Metacritic.
Last November, Enbracer CEO Lars Wingfors announced that Volition would do so merge with Gearbox Software due to Saints Row’s “disappointing reception”, despite the game meeting financial expectations. The merger should give Volition the necessary tools to create a better “player experience”.
“Saints Row’s reception was not what was expected and led to a partial polarization of the fan base,” Wingfors said. “The game development studio Volition has worked hard to improve the gaming experience. Going forward, Volition will become part of Gearbox, which has all the tools, including an experienced management team in the US, to make Volition successful in the future.”
Whether the transition happened and Gearbox is now leaving Volition or the merger never completed is unclear. All that is certain is that Volition is no longer with us, but will be remembered for his contributions to gaming over the decades.