Over the past few years, popular game developers and creators of fantastic video game experiences have gone bankrupt or closed down for other reasons, causing popular game franchises to be lost or sold to other game developers. The result of this is that we (the consumer) will no longer be able to experience new entries in these video game franchises, created in the same way that the originals were; thereby losing the spirit of their original incarnations.
Here is a list of our favourite game developers that have closed down and thus, video game franchises that we have lost along the way.
Fable + Black & White developed by Lionhead Studios
The Fable franchise captured the attention of many fans of fantasy games while Black & White was enjoyed by fans of world-building games and simulation games. Lionhead Studios found themselves in a bit of a pickle, as lacklustre sales of Black and White The Lost Chapters led to them being bought by Microsoft in April 2006, signalling the end of their independent development. Sadly this wasn’t enough to save the Lionhead Studios, as after the cancellation of Fable Legends on March 7th, 2016 the company officially closed down; announcing their closure as of April 29th, 2016.
Okami developed by Clover Studios
This is a bittersweet ending to a game developer in my opinion, as Okami was one of my absolute favorite Playstation 2 Action RPG titles, with gorgeous paint style visuals and a Wii Port that was surprisingly fantastic (in addition to the fantastic gameplay elements and Japanese inspiration).
The success of Okami wasn’t enough to keep Clover Studios afloat however, as the Viewtiful Joe and God Hand developer found themselves stifled under Capcom’s management, and eventually lost three of their head members (Atsushi Inaba, Hideki Kamiya and Shinji Mikami) ultimately leading Capcom to shut down Clover Studio in late 2006. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as despite losing the Okami franchise, the three members of Clover Studios that departed, banded together to create Platinum Games, which has given fantastic experiences such as Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Darksiders developed by Vigil Games
Vigil Games was a THQ owned developer that created another fantastic action style RPG franchise in Darksiders; which found popular acclaim and a sort of cult following. After struggling with financial troubles, THQ was forced to sell off many of their assets in auction due to bankruptcy. Despite Darksiders and Darksiders II being highly successful, it wasn’t enough for Vigil Games to get picked up, and the company ultimately became defunct in January of 2013.
Fans of the Darksiders series should rejoice however, as Nordic games bought many THQ properties including the Darksiders Franchise, and a currently announced third instalment in the series is coming, though we can only wait and see if it lives up to the other 2. At the moment there is very little information beyond rumour and speculation on Darksiders III.
L.A. Noire developed by Team Bondi
L.A. Noire was an incredibly interesting sort of detective video game, allowing you to investigate cases, talk to witnesses, examine evidence and ultimately have a hands-on investigation in order to solve said cases. Sadly, despite L.A. Noire being such a unique and popular detective video game, its developer Team Bondi suffered from poor working conditions (which led to controversy) and a large amount of debt due to unpaid wages and bonuses during L.A. Noire’s development. Ultimately the intellectual property owned by Team Bondi was sold to Kennedy Miller Mitchell, a Sydney based production company founded by George Miller and Byron Kennedy. While the rights to L.A. Noire was sold, no word has come on whether or not a L.A. Noire sequel will ever be made.
Age of Empires + Age of Mythology developed by Ensemble Studios
The Age of Empires and Age of Mythology series were two of the most popular real-time strategy franchises to release in the 90’s and early 2000’s; Ensemble Studios (the franchise developer) was also responsible for games such as Halo Wars and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. Sadly the popular game developer ran into difficult times and were acquired by Microsoft in 2001. Shortly after the release of Halo Wars in 2009, Ensemble Studios closed, and all upcoming game titles were ultimately cancelled.
These video game developers show that no matter how popular a game franchise is, no matter how beloved; sometimes game developers go under and some of the best gaming franchises are lost to gaming history. While a few popular franchises on this list have hope for returning, they might not offer the same experience.