Crytek, the developer behind the shooter franchise Crysis and the Xbox One launch title Ryse, has been in rough financial trouble over the past several months, with reports of canceled projects, staff walk outs and employees going unpaid for long periods of time. Today, news comes that the company is undergoing some dramatic changes, first and foremost the closure of its studio based in the UK and the loss of a recently acquired IP.
Crytek purchased the rights to the shooter franchise Homefront for $500,000 when game publisher THQ closed down two years ago, and work quickly began on a next-gen Homefront game at Crytek UK. The game is slated for release sometime next year.
That is no longer the case. Staying true to the rumors, publisher Deep Silver, best known for the zombie action title Dead Island, announced today it had bought the rights to the Homefront franchise for an undisclosed amount, including the in-development Homefront: The Revolution. Deep Silver already planned to publish the title, and looks now like it decided to purchase the game outright in order to protect its investment. Crytek announced its UK studio would be shutting down, and it looks like many employees will be forming a new studio under Deep Silver in the UK to continue work on the game.
It isn't only one of the developer's main European studios that is being affected, however. Crytek's Austin, Texas based studio, Crytek USA, will also see a dramatic restructuring. That studio was working on an original game title called Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, but no longer. Crytek USA will be downsizing and becoming a support studio for Crytek's licensed game engine, rather than a game developer, with work on Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age transferring to Crytek's primary Frankfurt based studio. Employees laid off by the Crytek USA restructuring will have the option of applying for other positions within Crytek. Much of the staff of Crytek USA already walked out on the studio last month after failing to receive payment and likely catching some wind of the restructuring to come.
Crytek issued a statement earlier this month saying that the company was in a transitional phase, moving from being a game development company to an "online publisher" that will focus on free-to-play titles, a far cry from the graphically impressive AAA action titles the studio has become known for. It was announced then that Crytek had obtained the financial capital needed to secure the long term life of the company, though what all that meant and the future of Homefront was left intentionally vague. Now it seems we know why.