Unfortunately, in the highly competitive gaming industry, news of a studio closing its doors is not uncommon. This extends all across the industry, and even the more prominent studios are at risk. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that EA announced the closure of Maxis Emeryville, most known for bringing The Sims and SimCity franchises to life.
Now yet another studio has decided to cease operations. It has been confirmed that Los Angeles-based developer Spark Unlimited will no longer be creating new games, and are currently in the process of shutting down entirely.
With this closure comes the cancellation of their untitled, unannounced free-to-play game, which was going to be a third-person action-adventure title for Xbox 360. There were apparently no other games in development, but in the past, Spark was best known for their console titles, developing Lost Planet 3 for Capcom, as well as the Ninja Gaiden spinoff, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z.
Since the release of Ninja Gaiden Z last year, all has been quiet on the Spark Unlimited front. It was once rumored that they were developing Star Wars Battlefront 3, but it’s now known that DICE is creating the next game in that franchise, simply titled Star Wars Battlefront. That’s probably for the best, considering Spark’s track record of releasing extremely unpolished games.
While it’s always sad to see a studio close its doors, Spark Unlimited was not exactly known for its critical darlings. Their highest rated game was Call of Duty: Finest Hour, and even then it only managed to earn a 73% rating on Metacritic. Most of their games hovered below 50%, indicating near-universal panning of their products.
Elvis has left the building. Good night and drive safe.— Spark Unlimited (@sparkunlimited) May 5, 2015
That being said, the company is reportedly in the process of selling off their assets, which would presumably include the poorly-received IP they’ve developed over the years. It’s hard to say if anyone would be interested in their games considering the stigma around them, but some of their projects (such as Legendary) honestly had great ideas, and in the hands of a capable team, could actually be fairly memorable experiences.
In the meantime, those that once worked at the studio are now moving on to other projects. While it was not heavily publicized, the CEO and founder of the company, Craig Allen, actually resigned at the end of last year to do just that, so the dissolution of the studio has been in the works for months now.
The remaining core members of the studio plan to keep working together, but not within the gaming industry. It is possible that they will attempt to break into film, as Allen and the COO of the company, Avi Bachar, recently served as executive producers for the indie sci-fi/horror film Nightmare Code.
Whatever the former developers and executives of Spark Unlimited decide to do with their lives moving forward, we wish them well in their future endeavors.