Spark Unlimited, the studio behind games like Lost Planet 3 and the first Call of Duty for home consoles, has shut its doors.
The studio laid off all its employees and will no longer be involved in game development, as reported by Polygon. John Butrovich, the company’s chief technology officer, confirmed the studio’s closure.
Spark Unlimited was founded in August 2002 by Craig Allen, a former executive vice president of Jim Henson Interactive, starting with 27 employees. The studio was based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., originally made up of former Electronic Arts employees who developed some of the first Medal of Honor games. At its inception Scott Langteau was the studio’s chief operating officer and Adrian Jones acted as the chief technology officer, who both previously worked for EA with important positions in the Medal of Honor franchise.
Allen resigned as president and CEO of Spark Unlimited, leaving the studio in late 2014. Some in the company have already moved on to projects outside of the game industry. Spark was independently owned by its employees.
Spark Unlimited were working on a free-to-play mobile game and a free-to-play, third-person action game for consoles and PC. These projects were cancelled, which led to the company’s closure.
The studio’s first game was Call of Duty: Finest Hour for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube in November 2004. It went on to develop games for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC using Unreal Engine 3 like Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (February 2008), Legendary (November 2008) and Lost Planet 3 in August 2013.
Spark’s last game was Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z that released in March 2014. It worked with a variety of publishers like Activision and Atari and also developed Western games of Japanese franchises from Capcom and Tecmo Koei.
While most of Spark Unlimited’s games received mediocre review scores, Lost Planet 3 was nominated for a Writers Guild Award by the Writers Guild of America for outstanding achievement in video game writing.
The company also developed the first Call of Duty game for home consoles, which at that point was only a World War II shooter made by Infinity Ward for the PC, not the multi-billion dollar franchise it is today. Spark was supposed to develop the franchise’s sequels on consoles in a three-game partnership that never happened. Spark filed a lawsuit against Activision in August 2005 for breach of contact and fraud, among other complaints. The publisher later counter-sued the studio over the game’s troubled development. The two companies settled the case in March 2007.
Spark is now selling all its assets, including computers, telephones, furniture, studio equipment and even appliances like refrigerators.
The studio left a message on Twitter that said, “Elvis has left the building. Good night and drive safe.”