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Ratbag Closed

Midway closes San Diego, Aussie studios on GameSpot reports that Midway has pulled a bit of a Grinch move, closing their San Diego, California and Adelaide, Australia studios just a couple of weeks before Christmas. The Australian closure is surprising, as Midway just acquired Ratbag Studios to be their Aussie studio in August (story), but the report cites a recent string of losses as a likely motivation behind the move, so this may be a case of Ratbags being thrown off a sinking ship.

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30. The site is back up Dec 17, 2005, 16:13 Ouch
Ratbag's site is back up now. Hmm. Go Ratbag !

It may just be that you now have to put the www. at the start of the url though. used to work.

This comment was edited on Dec 17, 16:13.
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29. Re: OTOH Dec 17, 2005, 00:08 John
It just says that the studios were closed. Maybe the guys are just part of Midway now and (hopefully) continuing their projects there.

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28. No subject Dec 16, 2005, 00:04 Ouch
Good point. They have stopped supporting things over the past years. The website news almost never gets updated anymore. They stopped releasing file unpackers for modding and custom skins with their games. They have stopped releasing needed patches. I've not seen anything in any forums anywhere by them in several years. The list goes on.

There has also been a very high staff turnover rate at Ratbag over the years. Most of the top talent who worked on their best games are long gone. One of their most recent games, Dukes of Hazard was quite bad and got shredded in reviews.

My fingers are still crossed though. The media for Scavenger and Powerslide2 look excellent.

edit: Looks like their site just went down.

This comment was edited on Dec 16, 01:05.
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27. OTOH Dec 15, 2005, 22:24 UnderLord
Don't forget that we don't have any details of the severance terms. The RatBag staff MIGHT be very happy with them (yeah, really probable, eh?).
There's bugger-all chance of finding out from the "News" section of their web-site though, it wasn't even considered newsworthy when they got bought out!
If they are so stuck in their own little world they only pause to praise their products, what fan support do they really deserve?

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26. Re: Powerslide Dec 15, 2005, 20:54 Hump
That game they were working on called 'Scavenger' seemed kind of interesting.

Theres a movie download of some gameplay. Has a sort of Battlefield-meets-Mad Max vibe to it. look pretty cool and different.

and lord knows "different" cannot be tolerated in the game industry in 2005.....

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"Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue."

- Jim Goad
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25. Re: No subject Dec 15, 2005, 18:46 Parallax Abstraction
San Diego was just another Midway studio that was closed down. It wasn't part of Ratbag. I don't remember GT ever going bankrupt, just that at one point they were bought by Infogrames and became what is now the new Atari.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Canada
Parallax Abstraction
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24. No subject Dec 15, 2005, 18:30 Shadowcat
Ouch: I always forget about the GT fiasco. When people remind me I always got the impression that despite the success of DTR, Ratbag never fully recovered from all the Powerslide money disappearing down the tubes (basing such an assumption over a sequence of seemingly-rushed subsequent releases that never appeared to improve a tremendous amount on the original Difference Engine technology).

I wanted to see PS2 so badly, but heard it got 'indefinitely postponed' a long time ago. And now this. Crap!

OTOH, I didn't even know Ratbag existed outside of Australia. San Deigo and California?? Maybe I don't know anything much about them after all...

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23. Re: Aaarghh! Dec 15, 2005, 17:41 LugNut
I'm sad to hear this as well. Ratbag was very creative way ahead of 95% of the rest of the devs out there. powerslide, and several other race games they had were technically way ahead of their time when they came out, atleast graphically.

Anyway...someone probably sold out. Sad.

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22. Aaarghh! Dec 15, 2005, 16:47 Ouch
Ratbag just can't get a break. On their first game, Powerslide, their publisher(GT) went bankrupt just as the game was released. They didn't see a dime of the profits.

I hope they can reform as Ratbag again or as some other entity.

They had Powerslide2 almost done and were just looking for a way to publish it. Scavenger looks very cool too.

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21. Guess he made Seven Sorrows his Bitch Dec 15, 2005, 16:04 Soylent Bob
Behold Romero,Destroyer of Studios!

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20. Re: Dec 15, 2005, 15:15 WarPig
If it were me I'd be tacking this cartoon up all over the place even though it would be the Midway corporate offices where I'd want to post it.

I think a good gift for the president would be a chocolate revolver, and since he's so busy, you'd probably have to run up real quick and hand it to him. - Jack Handy
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19. Aussie Job Market Dec 15, 2005, 15:15 UnderLord
This is based on the assumption that Games development actually is a sub-set of the I.T. industry, I'v only worked in the business and R&D sides of I.T. in Australia, so ...
Right now it's quite hard to find good I.T. jobs in Australia. The beginning of the year is the hardest time to get new IT work in Australia.
I'd prefer to be looking for a new job about August, if I had to, so sooner would have been better.
But this is probably as soon as Midway could do it!

Avatar 13987
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18. Re: No subject Dec 15, 2005, 15:11 nin

I'm not sure if I should feel bad for Ratbag or not. They're a fine indie dev house, but shit, they went with Midway. WTF did they expect to happen? Seriously. It's not like Midway's track record is any big secret.

(Really) Sucks that these guys lost their jobs, but it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

GW: Nilaar Madalla, lvl 20 R/Mo / Tolyl Nor, lvl 20 E/Mo / Xylos Gath, lvl 13 W/Mo
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17. No subject Dec 15, 2005, 15:05 StaTik
Powerslide rocks!

The morons at Midway just put the nicest bunch of dev's I have ever met out on there butts right before Christmas. I hope they feel good about it as there kids open there xbox360's and ipods this year..... basterds!

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16. Re: Dec 15, 2005, 14:44 Alamar
I don't get it. If you have to close two studios, how much harm could it POSSIBLY do to Midway to wait until AFTER Christmas? Like, is there any reason why they couldn't have just let these staff have a nice Christmas before telling them that they have to lose their jobs due to management's ineptitude?

Sounds like a glass being half full or empty issue here...

But consider being told TODAY that you have no job... What to do? Well... Don't spend as much on x-mas (Cuz you know you haven't done all your shopping as there's still 8 days : )... ENJOY the time off over the holidays and spend them with family instead of heading through the crappy weather to work every day... : )

Me? I'd enjoy the few weeks off and start to look for another job next year : )


Avatar 22996
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15. Re: Dec 15, 2005, 14:38 Kxmode
I don't get it. If you have to close two studios, how much harm could it POSSIBLY do to Midway to wait until AFTER Christmas?

Big corps like Midway think on macro-levels. They dont see small people they only see big actions. Closing a studio is a big undertaking, let alone three. So I'm sure the nerds came to the suits and said they could close all three studios before the January 1st if they start now. In Midway's mind they start new 1/1/2006 holidays be damned.

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This comment was edited on Dec 15, 14:42.
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14. No subject Dec 15, 2005, 14:35 Crossbone
Dirt Track Racing, Leadfoot, and Sprint Cars were all great, fun budget titles. Sadly Ratbag didn't do any major improvments to their game engine so the games didn't get that much better.

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13. Re: No subject Dec 15, 2005, 14:27 Parallax Abstraction
Good point, but I'd still prefer the former. I've actually been laid off just before Christmas in the past and it just totally ruins the holiday not only for you, but the family who celebrate it with you. I spent the break terrified of how I was going to pay my bills and the credit card debt I'd accumulated from Christmas shopping instead of enjoying it. Personally, if I were to come back after Christmas and find out I was laid off, I'd still be upset and worried, but at least I would have enjoyed my holidays. I dunno, maybe they do it this way so that the guys won't drive themselves into debt with Christmas shopping they can no longer afford. I still think they're scum though by acquiring this company (and thus giving the staff the impression of job and financial security) and then cutting them six months later because Midway issued a bad earnings report. Though as some here have speculated in light of SSSI, I think they never really had the intention of keeping the studio open, just taking their IP and throwing them out in the cold.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Canada
Parallax Abstraction
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12. Re: No subject Dec 15, 2005, 14:21 Rigs
Well, if you think about it, what really is the difference? I, actually, would rather be told before the holidays so I could make plans and look for other employment during the otherwise unproductive holiday break. Plus, I'd be partying on New Year's thinkin' "Yeah, man, this is great! I got a great job, cool friends, money comin' in. Gonna be a great new year!' and then the axe fall on my head when I walk into work on Jan. 3rd...


"If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure." - Dan Quayle
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11. Re: No subject Dec 15, 2005, 14:09 Parallax Abstraction
It's actually kind of common to have layoffs before Christmas. I think the financial/accounting departments tally up headcount at year's end, and sometimes lower is better.

You're very likely right. I'm sure this is especially true in the light of Midway being a publicly traded company and they're increasing desperation to find investors willing to hold stock in their sinking ship. However, I still think a slightly less profitable quarter is worth being human enough to allow your staff to enjoy Christmas before saying that they have to be laid off because other divisions of the company can't release good games. But oh, a Vice-President flew down (undoubtedly on first class) on the company dime to break the news in person. I'm sure that made them feel so much better.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Canada
Parallax Abstraction
Geek Bravado | YouTube | Mixer
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