Stranger Than Fiction: The Ouster and Possible Return of the CEO of Red 5 Studios


Back in October, a reader suggested I check out Firefall, an open world MMO shooter. At the time my curiosity with shooters had picked up after playing the pseudo-shooter World of Tanks. I spent a few hours playing Firefall but lost interest as there didn’t seem to be much to do. These days, if a game isn’t compelling to me from the get-go, I don’t invest more time in it. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

What I didn’t know was the history of the game and the nutty things going on inside Firefall’s developer, Red 5 Studios. Last month, a Red 5 employee took to Reddit to post a richly detailed post on why the CEO was removed by Red 5.

Among the many gems in that thread were tidbits like this:

Red 5 staff was informed about PvP being cut through the same forum thread the players were

The whole Reddit thread and comments are worth reading, even if you have no interest in Firefall or Red 5. I find it fascinating that so much time/money was spent on things that weren’t meaningfully aligned with advancing Firefall or the game development capabilities of the studio.

One insight I gleaned from the thread is that GlassDoor.com is a good resource to hear what employees think of their company. (I’ve previously used it for compensation benchmarking.) Granted, as with any online reviews you have to take what the reviewers say with a grain of salt.

The story doesn’t end there. The former CEO tweeted this today:

Crazy stuff!

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Posted in Business Analysis, Firefall, Game Design
13 comments on “Stranger Than Fiction: The Ouster and Possible Return of the CEO of Red 5 Studios
  1. WARX says:

    Amazing that read was worth the youtube video alone, hahaha

    • taugrim says:

      Yea, but *which* video are you talking about? The GoT rap video? The weird Halloween video?

      :)

      • WARX says:

        GoT Rap vid heh, Played firefall for like 2hours a few months back. Really thin. This whole reddit article really puts things into perspective.

  2. Feydakin says:

    The things the poster says make sense, as someone who has invested a lot of time and some money into Firefall, and watched all of these shenanigans with a mix of confusion and caution over the years. I just hope that Red5/Firefall can recover because to be honest the game has a ton of potential, and very few games are doing what they are trying to do with a third person sci-fi shooter.

    • taugrim says:

      I just hope that Red5/Firefall can recover because to be honest the game has a ton of potential

      There’s good news on that front.

      Last week Red 5 secured an additional $23MM in funding and they’re planning a 2014 launch:

      http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/01/24/firefall-developer-secures-23-million-in-funding/

      Here’s what I can’t figure out:
      1. given all the leaked information about what was going on in Red 5 back in December, why would an investor take on the financial risk?
      2. what possible role would the former CEO have, if what he said yesterday about returning to Red 5 is true, given that funding to reach launch has been secured

      • Feydakin says:

        Yeah I saw that, but let’s be honest, 23 million is a pittance for an MMORPG (even though it really isn’t if you know what I mean) and Red5 doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence, even though they place all the blame for pissing away all of their money on Mark Kern, who knows if that is really 100% true. Not to mention if he comes back to Red5?

        • taugrim says:

          but let’s be honest, 23 million is a pittance for an MMORPG (even though it really isn’t if you know what I mean)

          Red 5 isn’t starting from scratch – they need sufficient funds to launch Firefall and have some runway after that.

  3. Scottpoet says:

    Fucked up

  4. jasonwinter says:

    Man, I hadn’t seen that Reddit thread before. Hell of a read.

    You’re right about Glassdoor. I did a piece on game companies on Glassdoor a few months ago, and used what I read about Red 5 (nothing good) in a related article: http://www.gameskinny.com/cddly/the-best-and-worst-game-companies-to-work-for-a-review-of-employee-feedback-as-of-2013

  5. Speedplay says:

    Really happy to see you writing regularly again, Ed.

    The article itself is interesting, but honestly nothing surprising after reading a year’s worth of http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/of-course-i-wasnt-doing-my-job As much as I love the products that games companies put out, I definitely do so only only because I turn a blind eye to the callous working conditions of many of the industry’s employees.

    ~Speedplay

  6. Vortex says:

    You should also check out the the only mmorpg pvp worth playing http://www.darkfallonline.com/

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