Pandemic Studios closes doors. Our hearts break a little

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Following the recent closure, one of the ex employees at Pandemic studios posted this on the neogaf forums:

I was one of the affected today.

Having worked at Pandemic for close to 5 years, it's a bittersweet moment. We literally just finished Saboteur and are extremely proud of the game it turned out to be, considering the amount of hardships we had during development. On the other hand, we now have no job and are forced to part our ways with people we hold dear to our hearts.

I can tell you one thing. The reason why the studio closed down has everything to do with the existing Pandemic management. From what we were told, Pandemic management was given free reign to do as they please. Time and time again, they dropped the ball with bad decisions (promoting/keeping people based on loyalty, no production accountability, misallocation of resources, poor milestone objectives, no mentoring, etc.). It's a true shame, as there was a lot of talent and passion at the studio.

I wouldn't necessarily hate on JR and EA's execs just yet. In my eyes, they probably made the right decision as Pandemic cost a lot to upkeep and, quite frankly, the last few products weren't up to snuff. I think many of you would be surprised how much a game like Saboteur costs to make (think ~100 people for 3 years + ~20 people for ~2 years). Add overhead cost to incompetence in management/direction and you have a pretty convincing case to cut your ties and call it a day. It probably doesn't look good for JR considering he made a cool 5 mil off of the sale of Pandemic/Bioware.

One more thing I will say: EA is totally sending Saboteur out to die. And it's a fucking shame. It's easily Pandemic's best game yet. Of course, I am a bit biased having worked on the game for so long. If you were disappointed with Mercs2 and LOTR (who wasn't) and enjoyed previous Pandemic games, give Saboteur a shot.

I don' t know which employee this was, or if it was even one of the folks we talked to at PAX. What I do know for certain is that the Saboteur is a great game and deserves as much press and admiration as it can get. We've been big on the Saboteur since our hands on time with it at PAX and seeing the latest screens and videos show the game has made great strides even since then.

I am sad to see this company go. On a more personal note, having met with the senior dev from The Saboteur and Pandemics head of PR while at PAX, this news of the closure hits a little closer to home. I saw first hand how proud the studio was of their latest game. I saw the glint in their eyes when we sat down to play. I could hear the excitement in Tom French's voice as he laid out the mission I was playing. It's a shame to lose that kind of enthusiasm.

I can think of few better swan songs for Pandemic than the Saboteur. From it's open game play to it's astonishing visual style to it's mature and honest handling of sex and nudity, The Saboteur is a game that excels on many fronts and deserves nothing but the highest respect and admiration. It would be a shame for this game to go unnoticed this season. Let's not let that happen. For the game and for the developers who loved it.