Maybe “stripped” is a bit much, but with Driveclub and OnRush director Paul “Rushy” Rustchynsky booted, along with other senior staff, lead creatives and junior members of the pit crew, it’s obvious that this is more than an oil change.
The OnRush team is basically the old Evolution Studios, the UK-based studio which Codemasters picked up in 2016. Now, following weak sales of the eccentric racer (is it a racer, though? It’s got cars, okay, I’m going with racer), the team has had a significant portion of its talent pool removed, and it sounds like what’s left of the studio will be repurposed, according to a Eurogamer report citing unnamed sources within the organisation.
“It is normal course of business for game teams to evolve as projects launch and move into service, and as other new projects start,” said a Codemasters spokesperson, in response. “As such, it isn’t appropriate to comment on day to day movement of staff changes.”
We enjoyed OnRush, enough to slot it into the safe – but hardly life-changing – purgatory zone of a 75% score, with Gareth comparing it to Overwatch with vehicles in his review. He reckons it’s “unconventional, exhilarating, and homicidal in the fast lane, until it’s not”.
Unfortunately the racing genre is a tough one to crack – if you’re going to play it straight, you’re up against Forza and Gran Turismo. If you’re going to take chances and try something new, you’re risking a situation like this, where the core concept is hard to communicate to gaming audiences, leaving you with a sad scenario where not even a 78 Metacritic score can save your game from retail obscurity.
The future of the surviving members of the studio lies in the balance, but my thoughts go out to those who poured their hearts into this intriguing game and are now out of a job. It’s hard going out there.