Former Free Radical man heading up Facebook app firm; fate of ‘Pumpkin Beach’ now in doubt
GoldenEye designer and Free Radical founder David Doak has returned to games development via a new studio making Facebook games, Develop understands.
The new firm has emerged following the late 2008 collapse of TimeSplitters dev Free Radical.
Develop understands that two of the four original founders of Free Radical, David Doak and Steve Ellis, are working together again at the new Nottingham-based Facebook app company called Zinkyzonk.
Right now the company appears to be offering free Facebook applications.
Back in December, the renowned UK developer – creator of the TimeSplitters franchise - had confirmed it was placed into administration following disappointing sales of its game Haze for Ubisoft.
It was later rescued from liquidation by Germany-headquartered independent development giants Crytek. The Free Radical offices are now run under the name Crytek UK.
Originally, it was believed Doak left Free Radical during the final days of the studio’s life to form a new social game venture, Pumpkin Beach.
Yet one well-informed source has told Develop that Pumpkin Beach had been set up “well before” the closure of Free Radical.
“[Doak] was hiring people for Pumpkin Beach under the same roof as Free Radical,” said our source. “But people hadn’t seen Doak for months before the studio went under.”
Develop understands that Pumpkin Beach was trying to develop free-to-play Flash-based MMOs aimed at the child market. Free Radical co-founder Steve Ellis was also involved in this new firm.
“They looked at the success of Club Penguin [an MMO for the younger market, acquired by Disney for up to $700 million] and really wanted a piece of that action.”
Develop has been unable to verify the claims with Doak and Ellis at this time.
However, Develop has obtained documents which confirm that Pumpkin Beach had been incorporated as a company on June 18 2008, precisely six months before Free Radical fell into administration on 18 December.
Further documents show that Doak left his director post at Pumpkin Beach back in November. Now it seems his attentions have turned to Zinkyzonk.
Multiple entries for the firm’s staff can be found professional networking site LinkedIn, including a number of former Free Radical developers and Steve Ellis’ own profile.
(His entry’s ‘Previous Employment’ section also makes a quip about his time during the transition from Free Radical to the new operation via Crytek: previously, he was “person in charge of sitting around doing nothing useful or interesting at Crytek UK” the site says.)