Officials from British developer Elixir Studios have announced that the company is ceasing day-to-day operations, as all remaining assets and IP are sold.
Elixir was founded seven years ago by Demis Hassabis, formerly of Peter Molyneux's influential development house Bullfrog Software. The company has had a history of developing complex PC strategy games, releasing both Republic: The Revolution for Eidos and Evil Genius for Vivendi Universal Games. Despite some positive press for the latter, neither game was a major financial success, and an official statement from Elixir explains that the company's current main product "...was recently cancelled due to the perceived high-risk profile of the endeavor", leading to the closing.
Work on Republic Dawn: The Chronicles of the Seven – the online PC sequel to Republic – will, however, go ahead. The massively multiplayer online game is being developed by fellow British developer Nicely Crafted Entertainment and Elixir’s role has been primarily advisory – and will continue as such on a freelance basis.
A statement from Elixir further explains the decision, suggesting: "Elixir also has a number of promising original prototypes at various stages of development but the Board of Directors feel that the current risk averse publishing climate, in the run up to the launch of next generation platforms, virtually precludes the signing of any original IP (which is not already part of a well-established franchise or license), without an unreasonably large strategic investment in the project by the developer themselves."
Founder and Chairman Demis Hassabis further outlined this argument, commenting: "It seems that today's games industry no longer has room for small independent developers wanting to work on innovative and original ideas. Perhaps there is no longer any need for them. However, this was the sole purpose of setting up Elixir and something we could never compromise on by going down the licensing route."
The latest in a long line of independent British developers to collapse, in the face of the rising costs of development and consolidation amongst larger publisher and developers, Elixir’s exit from the industry should at least be more elegant than most.
Although all staff will be laid off by the end of the week, they will receive adequate redundancy packages, while attempts are already being made to continue some of the developer’s projects with other interested parties.