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THQ Shutters Homefront Developer Kaos Studios

Homefront 2 now in the hands of THQ Montreal.

Despite fairly strong sales of its most recent title, Frontlines: Fuel of War and Homefront developer Kaos Studios evidently had not done enough to justify its continued existence to parent company THQ. Today, the publisher announced that the New York City-based developer had been closed, alongside THQ's UK studio, THQ Digital Warrington.

Despite generally middling reviews, Homefront had, at last tally, sold well over a million units, and THQ had shipped more than 2.6 million to stores. Still, lackluster word-of-mouth did the title few favors past its initial release, and development of the upcoming Homefront sequel has evidently been shifted to THQ's Montreal studio.

THQ had no comment on the reason behind the closure, except to call the move a "a strategic realignment within its internal studio structure." THQ also noted in its press statement that the publisher is currently hiring at its Montreal, Austin, and Vancouver studios, and that anyone affected by the Kaos and Digital Warrington layoffs would have the opportunity to interview elsewhere in THQ.

Kaos' last development efforts on Homefront were on the now unfortunately titled "Fire Sale" map pack, which releases tomorrow.

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Posted by reverendericd

Uhh... The story is wrong, the map pack has been out for a week.

Posted by Agent47
@SuperSambo: Yeesh you left me with a bad taste in my mouth with those last few setences.
Posted by reverendericd

The multiplayer in Homefront is great - I play every day.  BP is the best killstreak system on the market, and the dedicated servers are now buttery smooth.  A very sad day.

Posted by Chocobodude3

I hate it when that happens

Posted by downtime58
@hurrikenux: Your reply screams "PC gamer" which honestly doesn't mean anything - the method through which a person plays video games doesn't define their sensibilities in the least.
 
It seems your complaint isn't that COD is bad, but that's it's popular, and that it's popular on home consoles. If that be your beef, then it's not with the game, but the changing nature of the video games market - more people play games on consoles nowadays, COD or no COD. 
 
And that all boils down to a million different factors, such as cost, accessibility, connectivity, changing demographics etc etc. 
 
It seems to me that you're not lamenting the quality of the games, but simply the fact that the majority of people no longer play them the way you do, and that's not likely going to change as consoles move closer and closer to digital-only. My PC-playing friend, you are living in the niche now.
Posted by Krakn3Dfx

I enjoyed Frontlines quite a bit, but Homefront was very 'eh' to me. They had a lot of hype leading up to release, but the final product couldn't follow through IMO.

Still, sad to see a good studio get shut down, seems to be happening far too often these days.

Posted by Piranesi

Had great fun with Frontlines - especially hiding in a corner and messing people up with the remote controlled vehicles. The progressive battlefront idea also had its merits.

It did seem that they were trying some innovative ideas in Homefront but took the COD approach without finding their own identity.

Edited by Gunharp

That sucks. Kaos was one of those last studios be formed from a modding group (Trauma Studios). The popularity of their Desert Combat mod influenced Battlefield 2 pretty heavily, especially the setting.

First Dice shut'em down and now THQ. What a bummer.

Serious respect for the folks that worked at Kaos. I hope they all find work soon and hopefully in the games industry, because they were talented and creative for sure. God damn was Desert Combat stellar. Hell, even Frontline influenced some aspects of modern Battlefield games. Such as the UAV Helicopter in Bad Company 2's multiplayer.

Oh yeah and the phrase THQ used: "a strategic realignment within its internal studio structure." is just straight BULLSHIT. Your marching them north just admit it.

Posted by Chris2KLee

It's a shame when this happens, but it's understandable why it did. THQ put a lot of money into advertising this game hoping to take a chunk out of the CoD crowd. A million copies sold ain't bad, but not much better that the MoH came a few years ago that tried the same to take the crown. Good luck to all affected, I hope they all land on their feet.

Posted by Mooshu

Sure, Homefront wasn't great. But a lot of the people at Kaos Studios were responsible for the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942. So with that; I raise my glass to you, Kaos Studios. May fortune find those that are effected by this closing.

Edited by TOYBOXX

The initial response after the release of Homefront was well received, if not mixed, despite it's lackluster presentation. Upon the release of the game, however, THQ's financial stock began to tumble regardless of the growing sales and word of mouth circulation. Sadly, after that month ended, sales fell below expectations which never recovered. I believe it attributed to poor reviews and the announcements of Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike map pack , and Battlefield 3 at that time.   
 
In attempts to appease the shareholders, THQ announced that they've sold 2 million units, when in fact they've only sold 1 million.                     
 
Ultimately, what did them in was the expensive marketing campaign for Homefront. THQ blindly spent too much time and money with the advertising than anything else in hopes to draw in sales and compete with the other big budget shooters instead of being it's own entity. A problem we're still seeing within the gaming industry today. They bit off more than they can chew, thus, the closing of Kaos Studios. 

Edited by hurrikenux
@downtime58 said:

@hurrikenux: Your reply screams "PC gamer" which honestly doesn't mean anything - the method through which a person plays video games doesn't define their sensibilities in the least.  It seems your complaint isn't that COD is bad, but that's it's popular, and that it's popular on home consoles. If that be your beef, then it's not with the game, but the changing nature of the video games market - more people play games on consoles nowadays, COD or no COD.   And that all boils down to a million different factors, such as cost, accessibility, connectivity, changing demographics etc etc.   It seems to me that you're not lamenting the quality of the games, but simply the fact that the majority of people no longer play them the way you do, and that's not likely going to change as consoles move closer and closer to digital-only. My PC-playing friend, you are living in the niche now.

Sadly, I agree with you - I'll compare how this affects PC gaming with how it also affects Console gaming.
 
I would think even the most hardcore of Console gamers will agree that the "casual" gamer is the biggest part of their demographic.  Publishers now pander to this demographic, whether it is with watering down games like Madden or simplifying controls and gameplay aspects with other established titles.  Publishers know the attention spans of these types only span a few years for a game series (examples are Halo, Guitar Hero, etc.) and accommodate as such.  The people that suffer are the loyal Console users that want the game experience the developers made a priority with the first one or two titles, a vision that is often lost after a publisher takes over and pressures for faster, recycled releases to capture the market's attention span during that present moment.
 
This is how PC gamers feel now, so there is a similar sentiment with Console gamers as well (the ones that have been around the block).  When a new IP is released (like Homefront), it is trashed almost immediately by apparent COD fans ("f**k this game, I'm gonna go play COD").  I can submit links to hundreds of Steam User Forums posts that attest to this fact.  So MNC, Breach, HOMEFRONT, Crysis 2, Section 8:Predjudice and BRINK were all horrible game, or is it that everyone has a false sense of entitlement of what they should receive for their money?  Nintendo games used to cost the same amount of money or more in 80's dollars for less content and less prospective gameplay hours, at that time we were very much satisfied with it.
 
Developers like Valve and Tripwire Interactive truly care about their customers in the PC market, the reason why many of us do not switch to Consoles is because they do not have that counterpart as of yet (mostly because Consoles typically require a publisher outside of XBLA/PSN).  Look at what publishers did to developers like IW (Guess what, MW3 is not truly IW), Bungie, Kaos, Bizarre Creations, etc.  As long as we let it continue, it will continue.
Posted by VincentVendetta

This weekend I overheard some EB Games employees about used games sales. Basically, some guy said that this was stealing money from developers, and now the guy was laughing saying "Yeah, poor developers."
 
Yeah, go fuck yourself you stupid piece of shit.

Posted by S0ndor

Atleast it's a bad studio this time.

Posted by Mr48
@VincentVendetta: Somehow I dont think it was used games sales that led to this studio's closure. (Hint: It was probably the terrible game they made)
Posted by SpudBug

never good news but what did they expect?

Hopefully this is the first warning sign to other developers that you can't just make a modern military CoD ripoff and make a ton of money. Everybody seems to be doing it these days, and it's fucking awful.

Posted by Brackynews

Hi there folks, when you're rushing to update a wiki page with juicy unconfirmed info, please do the site a favour and check if any other text on that page is several months out of date. You can fix that too while you're at it and the page will look so much the better. Thanks for your consideration.

Edited by Portis

I'd have to think them being based in New York City had a good deal to do with this. It ain't cheap to live there.

Sad, but Kaos Studios hasn't really been around all that long (2006 -- first game didn't come out until 2008) and both of their games didn't exactly set the world on fire, so THQ was probably seeing the writing on the wall.

Posted by NZt

For the upcoming first-person-shooter game ‘Homefront’ publisher THQ has said that the New-York based studio ‘Kaos’ has been put into a ‘seven-day’ crunch period for two months in order to meet their scheduled release date of March 8th, 2011. So this dev team have been working unpaid overtime, without weekends for two months.


 
Source: http://libcom.org/library/when-it-comes-crunch-unpaid-overtime-games-industry
 
No suprise this development studio suffered this fate. Although blaming the closure down to the dev studio making a poor game isn't such a great response without knowing what went on behind closed doors. Fact is THQ and many other of the big publishers are forcing studios into near permanent crunch period to shell out mediocre quality games for fast profit. This is ultimately the end result in being picked up by the big guns, when the're done with you they leave you out to the garbage.
 
There are plenty of studio's in recent memory that have met the same fate, so you can't be so judgemental in thinking the dev studio is to blame for making a mediocre game with poor sales.

Posted by archengel91

Thank goodness, this people could not make a decent game. It was like playing a un-polished version of Call of Duty, which is sad because that game is already a re-package mess, every single year. 

Posted by SomeDeliCook

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Origina1Penguin said:

That's too bad. I thought Frontlines had some interesting aspects. Never played Homefront though.

Frontlines was always just a poor man's Battlefield running on Unreal Engine.

Its a poor man's Battlefield that costs the same price.....????

Edited by hurrikenux
@NZt said:

Source: http://libcom.org/library/when-it-comes-crunch-unpaid-overtime-games-industry

 
No suprise this development studio suffered this fate. Although blaming the closure down to the dev studio making a poor game isn't such a great response without knowing what went on behind closed doors. Fact is THQ and many other of the big publishers are forcing studios into near permanent crunch period to shell out mediocre quality games for fast profit. This is ultimately the end result in being picked up by the big guns, when the're done with you they leave you out to the garbage.
 
There are plenty of studio's in recent memory that have met the same fate, so you can't be so judgemental in thinking the dev studio is to blame for making a mediocre game with poor sales.


This is exactly correct, and it mirrors what Activision and EA expect from their developers as well.  Often times, development teams that go against the grain (*cough* IW) are let go or are canned when they do follow orders and the product suffers.  Splash Damage as hinted at these issues with Bethesda, those of us that read between the lines can see this being a problem as well.
 
TL;DR, great logic but sadly it probably falls on many deaf ears (not including mine).
Posted by iAmJohn

@hurrikenux: Friendbrother, you also need to take into consideration that in this year alone, the CoD backlash has been building at a fever pitch. Anecdotally, most of my friends didn't really care about any of the Modern Warfare 3 reveal stuff, and all of whom own and have put a fair amount of time into Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops (and mostly don't regularly play games). You can look at Breach and Crysis 2 and Homefront all you want, but wasn't the consensus that most of those games felt lacking because they were all trying to go for that Call of Duty style of action and leveling mindset BUT WITH A TWIST!!!, thereby basically being no different from each other at a fundamental level? (Section 8 and Brink are outside of this since one is Tribes but not great (but A for effort) and the other is Enemy Territory: Original IP with all the same harsh limits and other nonsense that made Quake Wars suck... but that's just my opinion!) So why is it a shock that people end up going back to Call of Duty when these new multiplayer experiences end up being the exact same game with added window dressing meant to distract you from the fact that they can't replicate the feel of Call of Duty that so many people like?

I think you just have to keep reminding yourself: Infinity Ward and Treyarch are console developers. They made that choice years ago with Modern Warfare, even though they managed to do the right thing and give PC gamers everything they wanted before letting Activision declare DLCpocalypse. They put it up because they know you'll buy it and hopefully not pirate it, but you're not their target consumer. But Team Fortress 2 is a better game anyway, so fuck it.

Posted by kollay

Sucks for unemployment, but man that game... well, foretold this.

Posted by Branthog

Who in the fuck out there is itching for a Homefront 2?! Good grief.

Posted by hurrikenux
@iAmJohn: I agree that games falter trying to be like COD, even the last two CODs faltered in my opinion.  I'd also like to point out that Infinity Ward is no longer really Infinity Ward.  The two founders were fired and 47 employees left with them, I believe they said the new heads of IW came from Proctor and Gamble?  Somehow being able to sell toilet paper relates to being able to manage the Call Of Duty series.
 
If you are looking for Infinity Ward, I believe they are now Relapse (?) Gaming.
Posted by GaspoweR

@sammo21 said:

I hate Homefront and thought it was trash but as Jackel2072 its sad to see people lose their job. However I wonder how much of this had to do with the amount of money poured into Homefront ON TOP of the fact they were located in New York City?

I think it had a lot to do with that.

Posted by iAmJohn
Edited by FireBurger
@Darkstar_KoP said:

It fucking sucks that one game can destroy a studio. Every fucking time a game bombs now people have to worry about their job. What a fucked up buisness.


They also developed Frontlines: Fuel of War, which also tanked. It sucks that people lose their jobs, but money doesn't grow on trees. You can open a small indie dev studio and risk multiple failures without going under. However, if you convince your publisher to give you millions of dollars to release a AAA title, you better deliver and be willing to accept the consequences of failing.
Posted by tourgen

Great! Make good games or gtfo.

Posted by hurrikenux
@iAmJohn:  Ah, yes - Respawn - thank you for the correction.
Posted by TekZero

Wait, Homefront 2??  Homefront 1 was released?  Already?

Posted by octa

Their press release should have mentioned how many tax breaks game companies get in Montreal. I'm sure that had more to do with this than the game itself. New York is expensive, yo.

Like Front Line:Fuel of War, Homefront had a terrible single player but a pretty nifty and underrated multiplayer.

RIP Kaos.

Posted by pickassoreborn

Another bunch of devs lose their jobs. :(

Posted by Cold_Wolven

A lot of the sales towards Homefront would have been preorders, I know I preordered off Steam when it cam bundled with Metro 2033 and also the marketing towards this game was aggressive. However I do not believe a sequel would have sold so well given peoples reactions towards the first which could have been the reason why the studio was shut.

Posted by Nakirendral

Sucks that some great people I know have lost their jobs in NYC, but this studio was too volatile and disorganized to survive long. Sad to hear about job loss but on to greener pastures, imo.

Posted by danielcampbell

Nuts to THQ. I'm honestly surprised they are still in business.

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

@MurderByDeath said:

The real reason Kaos was no longer feasible as a studio: they were located in New York. Way, way too expensive to develop in New York, where the cost of living is so high.

From what I hear having a business in New York is a nightmare, and having one in NYC would make you pray to bleed out your eyes. So some of this might be the game not doing great, but as THQ said this is also strategic and moving assets to where they make more sense. Some people won't want to move of course, but those three cities listed would be decent places to live. Moreover, if you're working in the game industry they would even be better markets for your skills.

Posted by Tennmuerti
@bonorbitz said:

*sigh* Another day, another development house shutting down. I wonder what the sales expectations were?

Don't know about expectations, but they needed 2 million sales just to break even, due to huge marketing costs.
 
@Meatsim said:

I guess even if your game sells well your job is still not safe.

Well is a relative term. It depends on your costs. In this case they shipped to stores 2.6 mil  units of a product that required 2.0 mil sales just to make up the costs. And of that only 1 mil was actually sold in the main sales period.
 
And then THQ stock plummeted, costing them even more.
Posted by kmv_007
@Darkstar_KoP said:

It fucking sucks that one game can destroy a studio. Every fucking time a game bombs now people have to worry about their job. What a fucked up buisness.

Kaos had made Frontlines before Homefront, not to mention that Kaos was formed by some of the guys behind the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942.  It wasn't just Homefront that did in Kaos.  
 
As others have pointed out, NYC isn't a cheap place to operate, and Kaos wasn't helping their bottom line being located there.  Why not move?  Do you have any idea the difference in operating costs between Kaos (in NYC) & Volition (in Champaign, IL)? 
 
A lot of pressure was put on them for Homefront to sell huge, but both their games were second-rate shooters at best and mediocre at worst.  Their premises were good but the gameplay was sub-standard.  
 
That said, I'm sorry to see them go, and I really hope the best for all the personnel involved. 
Posted by senrat

Homefront was not worth the  $2 i paid to rent it but its still a shame.

Posted by Poltergeist13

Surely this is due to location. THQ is fallen in line with all other corporations, move out of U.S. to make products.

Posted by FourWude

#Are you ready hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat yeah

 Another one bites the dust#


Just more proof that this industry is gonna collapse in on itself. And good fucking riddance. Let's hope something better is made out of the ashes of the old.

Posted by MrKlorox

I wonder what might have happened if they stuck to the style of game that got them noticed in the first place. If it wasn't for the Desert Combat BF1942 mod, Battlefield 2 probably wouldn't have been what it was.

@hurrikenux said:

I'd also like to point out that Infinity Ward is no longer really Infinity Ward. The two founders were fired and 47 employees left with them, I believe they said the new heads of IW came from Proctor and Gamble? Somehow being able to sell toilet paper relates to being able to manage the Call Of Duty series.

Reggie Fils-Amie used to work for Proctor & Gamble and Pizza-Hut. And Nintendo's doing pretty well in America since he got hired in 2003. So who knows?

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@SomeDeliCook said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@Origina1Penguin said:

That's too bad. I thought Frontlines had some interesting aspects. Never played Homefront though.

Frontlines was always just a poor man's Battlefield running on Unreal Engine.

Its a poor man's Battlefield that costs the same price.....????

"a poor man's" anything is a derogatory association which defines the thing being described as for the poor man, ie of lesser quality. It's a turn of phrase, not a specific definition.

Posted by the_purgatory_station

there's going to be a Homefront 2 after reception it got?! wow

i still want to play this game

Posted by RIDEBIRD

Hey guess what, if you make a shitty shooter in todays market and refuse to move from super expensive NYC, you get shut down!

I say good on THQs part, they're a pretty good publisher and have been far too kind towards Kaos bullshit. Homefront was BAAAAD. Real bad.

Posted by Nethlem
@Darkstar_KoP I wouldn't even say that it bombed. 1 million sales is alot...

I doubt THQ lost money on this, the problem is rather that they didn't make as much money as they intended.

Thats the real sad part about this whole story, everything that isn't as huge as cod, halo or wow gets considered a "failure" by the business suits running these huge publishers.
Posted by hurrikenux
@MrKlorox: Reggie is an exception with a clear difference, he also doesn't make the largest of decisions at Nintendo - the majority of those come from Japan.  I'm almost positive Reggie will not tell you running Nintendo is like creating the Bigfoot pizza, on the other hand one of the Activision execs *did* compare selling Call of Duty to "making a white shirt whiter" with Tide.  I'll dig up the source here in a moment.
 
Source:
http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128252