Arkedo Studio, the French independent developer behind Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit, no longer has any employees and won't be making any more games, but isn't closing, co-founder and creative director Aurelien Regard announced today on his blog.
(Regard wrote his original post in French, and one of his Twitter followers translated it into English for him.)
"Arkedo hasn't closed down and is not bankrupt, going into administration or whatever big word, as it is managed properly," said Regard, explaining the subtlety of the situation. "But no one's employed anymore. No more games are produced either."
Regard listed three main reasons for the end of Arkedo. A lack of funds is the "first and most obvious one" — the studio didn't have another project lined up after it completed Hell Yeah!, which was published by Sega last fall. Arkedo has developed two small, self-funded games in the interim, and the company hopes to release them soon.
But the studio couldn't support its staff, and instead of laying off some people, its leaders decided to "disband the team with good conditions for everyone, and before it was too late, rather than replace permanent jobs with interns within a bad atmosphere," said Regard.
Regard also cited the development of Hell Yeah! itself, saying "this project was a little too big for us," a sentiment he expressed in a post-mortem he wrote in December. Arkedo's developers wanted to make smaller games without the backing of a major publisher, said Regard, although he noted the company still has a good relationship with Sega.
That desire, said Regard, is "not really compatible with a [middle-size] company structure."
"no one's employed anymore. No more games are produced either"
The third reason was that Regard and fellow co-founder Camille Guermonprez want to work on different projects. Guermonprez is in the midst of a publishing project, while Regard wants to start his "own mini-studio within the next few years," he wrote.
"Knowing that our long-term objectives would both drive us away from Arkedo, it didn't make sense to take financial risks again," said Regard. "Within a less hostile economical context, Arkedo would probably still be here, but this context just 'speed-uped' the end of the studio by a couple of years."
For now, Regard is "fulfilling an old fantasy" — developing a game entirely on his own, from scratch.
"We hug/thank you very sincerely by finishing with this: Arkedo's members are fine, most haven't stopped the pixels and will show you new things with their own manners," said Regard at the end of his post.
"In this kind of case, we say 'See ya' rather than 'Farewell,' right?"
Regard and Guermonprez founded Arkedo in 2006. Before Hell Yeah!, the studio launched Big Bang Mini on Nintendo DS, and the three games in the Arkedo Series on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Indie Games, in 2009. Arkedo did not develop the mobile game Hell Yeah! Pocket Inferno, which launched on iOS yesterday.
Update: We reached out to Arkedo for more details. In an email, CEO Camille Guermonprez told Polygon that now that Arkedo no longer has any employees, the company "will just have a few minor expenses in 2013," expenses that the company was already accounting for as losses. Arkedo split its offices with another French studio, Pastagames, and unnamed new tenants will cover Arkedo's share of the rent.
Asked whether Arkedo will support its self-published Arkedo Series going forward, Guermonprez said, "As long as Arkedo is alive, we'll support them as usual. After that, we probably still will." He added, "Being in charge of an indie studio is usually a labor of love," noting that Arkedo has been giving away the Big Bang Mini lenticular sleeve to anyone who has asked since the game's release in 2009. ("We still have a few [dozen] of them, should anyone be interested," said Guermonprez.)
As for the chances of Arkedo reuniting in the future, Guermonprez made an analogy to a band that has broken up.
"I would not bet on the band touring anymore," he said. "But I [personally] cannot wait for the solo albums!"