Volition's general manager Dan Cermak has welcomed the acquisition of the long-dormant Red Faction IP by Nordic Games, but says the Saints Row developer doesn't intend to work with its sorely missed sci-fi franchise again.
THQ shuttered Red Faction way back in July 2011 - as then president and chief financial officer Brian Farrell told investors at the time, "in today's hit driven core gaming business, even highly polished titles with a reasonable following like Red Faction face a bar which continues to move higher."
Sadly, these cost-cutting measures weren't enough to save the publisher from bankruptcy in December 2012, as a result of which Volition was auctioned off to Dead Island publisher Koch Media. Nordic announced its purchase of the rights to a number of THQ's old franchises last night, for a tidy $4.9 million - the other franchises include Darksiders, MX vs. ATV, Supreme Commander, Frontlines, Stuntman, Juiced, Full Spectrum Warrior and Destroy All Humans. All going to plan, the US Bankruptcy Court will finalise the deal on 13th May.
"We were glad to hear that the Red Faction IP got picked up, it's been near and dear to our hearts for a very long time," Cermak began, when contacted for comment by OXM. "I suppose it will become a bit like the Freespace IP for us in that we have fond memories of the games and both IPs still have a lot of fans. At this point though we have to look forward and focus on our current project.
"I don't see us working on the Red Faction series in the future, it now has a new home and we have our hands full with Saints Row," he added. (Read more about the latter here.)
Volition's final Red Faction project Armageddon failed to wow either critics or consumers, but the franchise has an illustrious track record in the main, with Red Faction: Guerrilla often cited as one of this generation's finest sandbox efforts. Cermak feels a return to Guerrilla's breadth rather than the linear cave shoot-outs of Armageddon would be the right way forward.
"It's hard to say where the IP will go, both the original Red Faction and Red Faction Guerrilla had features that were very tech heavy but at the same time the story and the world were pretty rich," he said. "For us it's less speculation (I haven't heard of any guesses) about where it could go and more curiosity to see what happens next with it.
"I think taking the game back to the surface would be key," Cermak went on. "But this is based on some of our core strengths as a studio (vehicles and open world). The physics engine was pretty expensive in terms of the CPU so it made for a sparse world but I think given some time we could have developed some ways around the issue (underground bases, creative ways to block the terrain, etc.)."
So is Volition happy to say goodbye to Red Faction at this point, or has it moved on for commercial reasons, rather than because it no longer has any love for the franchise? "As far as missing it, yes we miss the open world of Guerrilla coupled with the physics of the destruction engine we had.
"It was unsurpassed in this generation and we are very proud of what we created," Cermak concluded. "But as I said we have found our niche with Saints Row and we continue to grow our skills in open world development. I guess that means I would have to say yes to both, we will miss it and we are okay/happy with letting it go at this point."
As for Nordic Games, the publisher has yet to announce any particular plans for the series, but is conscious that there's room for improvement. "The last game, I wouldn't say it was a failure, but it was a set-back," CEO Lars Wingefors told Eurogamer in an interview today.
"It was a disappointment," he continued. "We realise that. That is included in the price tag for it. However, there are millions of fans who really liked the first product. It's a good concept. You just need to make it good.
"We have been approached by some good people today on that as well. It's a top-notch independent European developer, which has the resources. I can't say any more than that."
Here are five ways to save Red Faction, care of some know-nothing journalist or other. How would you go about it? Seems like Nordic has the right idea.