"No-Win Situation" Looks At the Troubled History Of Red 5 Studios

"No-Win Situation" Looks At the Troubled History Of Red 5 Studios

Firefall screen

A lengthy, in-depth examination of the history of Firefall developer Red 5 Studios has just wrapped up over at GameFront.

Both Firefall and developer Red 5 Studios went through some pretty big changes in the second half of 2013. Firefall's PvP mode was surprisingly suspended in September of that year, despite the prior determination of then-CEO Mark Kern to make a big splash on the professional e-Sports scene; then in December, the plug was pulled on Kern himself, as the Red 5 board of directors voted for his dismissal. A few employees spoke out on the matter shortly thereafter but aside from a general feeling that Kern was a hard guy to work for, actual details regarding his ouster were few and far between.

But a new report on the history of Red 5 and Firefall posted at GameFront paints a less-than-flattering portrait of working conditions at the studio and strongly suggests that Kern's removal, or the eventual collapse of Red 5, was inevitable. Numerous employees portray him as a mercurial man, prone to favoritism and capricious decision-making, whose temper was so volatile that he actually gave some of them a "safeword" they could use "in case he was being particularly verbally abusive." Money was spent almost recklessly on side projects, perhaps most appallingly the Mobile Gaming Unit, a customized bus costing an estimated $3 million for construction and repairs that never worked properly, could not be driven and now languishes in a warehouse somewhere.

It's not exactly a tragic tale - Firefall is still running and Red 5 still exists - but it is kind of sad; Firefall has been in development for the better part of a decade and yet remains mired in open beta with no proper release date in sight, while the studio sounds like it's still trying to recover from years of mismanagement. It's also an impressive behind-the-scenes tale that's well worth reading. Get the story in full over at GameFront: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

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Yeah, I got caught up in the hype for the game and enjoyed it for a time. Reading this just let me know that what was going on behind the scenes was obscenely evident from what happened in the game. Things were changing, but never progressing. Nothing was getting more "complete" it was always back to the drawing board. While the concept of a "real beta" held up for a while, this continued into the open beta, then everything just eventually became a broken mess when they tried to move forward and collapsed under its own weight.

I might revisit Firefall in a year or so if it's still around, just to see what's going on, but I think it's probably a lost cause by now.

I feel bad the most about those people who bought the founder packs.

And Firefall had such potential, what a shame.

Unless they can turn it around i guess its basically just Warframe thats going to satisfy my co-op PvE shooter itch.

I got caught in the hype here, I'll admit it. I even donated $100 when they have the chance. I still don't regret my decision since the game had such promise, but damn do I feel kinda like a sucker right now. Red 5 had plenty of money, they were just wasting it on batshit crazy ideas instead of actually making the game. This article really explains why all they put out for the longest time were a lot of crazy/stupid balance changes instead of the promised content.

The development of this game has been so aimless and slapdash that I'm surprised it's still a shooter. I log in once in a while to check out any major new patches, but that's it- everyone I started playing the game with has long since lost interest, and solo play is mind-numbingly boring.

Hmmmm... I remember Mark Kern from a video of video gaming personalities speaking out against SOPA... I remember thinking "Hey, that seems like a great guy."

Seems I was wrong... :\

Mister Chippy:
I got caught in the hype here, I'll admit it. I even donated $100 when they have the chance. I still don't regret my decision since the game had such promise, but damn do I feel kinda like a sucker right now. Red 5 had plenty of money, they were just wasting it on batshit crazy ideas instead of actually making the game. This article really explains why all they put out for the longest time were a lot of crazy/stupid balance changes instead of the promised content.

I did the same here, and it truly is a shame they couldn't mke a full-fledged product due to all this... Let this be a cautionary tale to anyone wanting to back a kickstarter or game in any way.

RoonMian:
Hmmmm... I remember Mark Kern from a video of video gaming personalities speaking out against SOPA... I remember thinking "Hey, that seems like a great guy."

Seems I was wrong... :\

Not necessarily. Plenty of people who are great guys are terrible managers. I worked for a guy many years ago who I considered a good friend, very cool dude, loved to hang out with him, but I eventually came to realize that he was a really bad boss. I'd still spend time with him socially if the opportunity arose, but I'd never work for him again.

Andy Chalk:

RoonMian:
Hmmmm... I remember Mark Kern from a video of video gaming personalities speaking out against SOPA... I remember thinking "Hey, that seems like a great guy."

Seems I was wrong... :\

Not necessarily. Plenty of people who are great guys are terrible managers. I worked for a guy many years ago who I considered a good friend, very cool dude, loved to hang out with him, but I eventually came to realize that he was a really bad boss. I'd still spend time with him socially if the opportunity arose, but I'd never work for him again.

Well yeah, but... Favoritism, verbal abuse... That sounds like a bad manager AND a bad person...

 

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