THQ Closes Studio Behind Homefront

THQ announced today that it’s currently in the process of shutting down the New York-based Kaos Studios. Formerly Trauma Studios, THQ hired core people from the team in February 2006 and created Kaos Studios. Kaos Studios developed the first-person shooters Frontlines: Fuel of War and Homefront.

THQ called the closing a “strategic realignment ” of the structure of its studios. It said the laid-off employees will get a chance to apply for different positions within THQ at its Austin, Montreal, and Vancouver studios. According to Gamasutra, Kaos Studios has around 70 employees.

The studio’s first game, Frontlines: Fuel of War, released Feb. 25, 2008 in North America for the Xbox 360 and PC to lackluster reviews. THQ canceled the PlayStation 3 version because of difficulty developing with the Unreal Engine for the system.

Homefront released March 15 in North America for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The game is set in 2027 where the fictional Greater Korean Republic invades and occupies the United States, creating a police state. There was much hype and a big marketing campaign surrounding the game. However critics weren’t as enthusiastic and gave Homefront disappointing review scores. Players also had problems with the game’s online multiplayer for weeks following Homefront’s launch.

In North America Homefront sold 375,000 copies the first day of release. It’s estimated the game sold 1 million copies worldwide during its first ten days. THQ claimed that Homefront needed 2 million sales just to break even. In May THQ claimed that Homefront had become profitable. As of May, THQ shipped 2.6 million copies of Homefront to retailers.

Back in January Kaos Studios employees were worried about losing their jobs or being forced to relocate to THQ’s Montreal location. Many at the studio were in “crunch time” for six months on Homefront. Employees worked 10 hour days, seven days a week in order to finish the game on time.

Even though THQ is closing Kaos Studios, it isn’t abandoning the Homefront franchise. A sequel to Homefront has already been announced by THQ today. Future Homefront development is being moved to THQ’s Montreal studio, who worked with Kaos Studios during the making of Homefront.

THQ released downloadable content last week for Homefront on the Xbox 360. The “Fire Sale” map pack included two maps for 240 Microsoft Points and a shotgun weapon for 80 MS Points. There’s no word on how the closing will impact future Homefront support through DLC or game patches.

THQ also announced the closing of the UK-based THQ Digital Warrington studio (formerly known as Juice Games). The studio has developed titles like the Juiced racing franchise and the 2011 Xbox Live Arcade game Red Faction: Battlegrounds. The studio’s latest game, Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team, was announced June 2 for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network Store for a July release date. The studio will be officially shut down in the next few months. THQ acquired the studio in 2006 after Acclaim filed for bankruptcy.

Homefront retails for $59.99.

Photo by THQ