This year’s Saints Row reboot met financial expectations, according to the interim report of mega-publisher Embracer. The same can’t be said of the critical response, however, so developers Volition “will transition to become part of Gearbox.”
“The reception of Saints Row did not meet the full expectations and left the fanbase partially polarized,” according to Embracer’s Q2 interim report, published today. “The game development studio, Volition, has been working hard to improve the player experience.”
“Financially, Saints Row has performed in line with management expectations in the quarter. Going forward, Volition will transition to become part of Gearbox which has all the tools, including an experienced management team in the US, to create future success at Volition.”
Note that this does not mean that Volition is closing down or that its staff are being absorbed by Gearbox. Gearbox are a publisher, one of several which are owned by Embracer Group. The Saints Row reboot was published by another of Embracer’s subsidiaries, Plaion (formerly Koch Media), but control of the franchise and the Volition studio is what is being transferred.
“This is the first internal group transfer where we transfer a major studio between operative groups, but it is not necessarily the last,” says the report.
Saints Row received a rough reception from fans who didn’t like that it jettisoned popular characters from previous games in the series (and that it had modern haircuts in it). It received a rough reception from critics, too, including us in our Saints Row review, in which Alice found it fun but also purposeless, bland, and a bit janky.
Embracer have been on an acquisition spree over the past several years, most recently picking up all of Square Enix’s western studios, including the developers of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Tomb Raider trilogy reboot. Earlier this month they closed one of those studios, the developers of Hitman Go.