Red 5 Studios

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Red 5 Studios
Subsidiary of The9
Industry Computer and video game industry
Founded 2005
Headquarters Irvine, California, United States
Number of employees

Red 5 Studios was a American computer game company that was known for its prior high ratio of former employees of Blizzard Entertainment. The founders previously worked on World of Warcraft.[1] Mark Kern was a team lead, William Petras was Art Director, and Taewon Yun was part of the company's Korean operation which oversaw the launch of World of Warcraft in Asia. The company will be focusing on creating Massively Multiplayer Online Entertainment. They were developing Firefall before it was revealed that all of the staff had been let go in July 2016.

In March 2010 it was revealed that Chinese company The9 has acquired a majority stake in Red 5.[2]


In early 2007, Red 5 Studios launched a campaign to increase the size of the organization by recruiting the top game developers in the industry. Citing a lack of success using conventional recruiting methods, Red 5 turned to San Francisco-based Pool and Orange County-based Airbag Industries, to help them send a personalized recruiting pitch to each of the 100 prospective hires.

In early February, the project was completed, and each of the "dream hires" was delivered a package containing 5 nested art boxes, with an iPod Shuffle containing a personalized message in the center. As of June 2007, three of the candidates had joined Red 5, and a fourth was being interviewed.[3]

Recent history[edit]

On April 23, 2009, Red 5 Studios announced the closing of their Shanghai office.[4]

In January 2010 Red 5 laid off about 30 people.[5]

In March 2010 an announcement revealed that Chinese company The9 acquired majority shares in Red 5.[2]

On September 8, 2010, Red 5 Studios revealed Firefall at PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington.

In July 2011, Red 5 announced a collaboration with Orson Scott Card, author of the science fiction novel Ender's Game, as writer of the Firefall story as well as the creation of a manga novel co-written by his daughter Emily Janice Card and drawn by Joe Ng.[6]

On September 30, 2011 it was announced that Red 5 Singapore, a wholly owned subsidiary of The9, would substitute Webzen for publishing in all of the countries worldwide other than the United States, Canada and European countries.[7]

On October 21, 2011 Chinese company The9 established Red 5 Singapore to handle game operations in Asia.[8]

In August, 2011 after PAX Prime, Red 5 began closed beta testing on Firefall.

Red 5 Studios also pulled support from 2012 E3 in protest of the ESA's support of SOPA and PIPA. Mark Kern instead created League for Gamers with the fifty thousand dollars intended to be spent on E3.[9]

Red 5 Studios has also currently hired two cosplayers to play the part of two Firefall storyline characters, Typhon and Mourningstar, and both were shown off during SXSW 2012.

Red 5 announced it is to open a new 30-man office in Cork, Ireland, initially dedicated to European support and localization for the upcoming free-to-play shooter Firefall.[10]

On December 20, 2013, Red 5 Board of Directors voted out Mark Kern of CEO position, Kern was the last of Red 5′s four founders with the company, all of whom formerly worked at Blizzard Entertainment.[11]

On May 26, 2015, Chris Whiteside, the former Lead Producer of ArenaNet on Guild Wars, then the Design Director for Guild Wars 2, attended an interview as a member of Red 5 Studios, stated “We’ve been through the fire, and we’ve grown close. These guys (Red 5 Studios) have bonded into a truly collaborative business, and our overall plan is to become the best online world building studio in the business. We know what people remember from our checkered past, but we know we can prove we’ve come through the fire and controversy ready and raring.” [12]

Red 5 Studios in November 2015 laid off 40 employees (including Chris Whiteside) and several more in December 2015.[13]

On December 25, 2015 many employees did not receive their paycheck and in return they received a letter. "Hi Team, I regret to inform you that Red5 currently does not have the funds necessary to meet our payroll scheduled for today Friday, December 25. Due to this, there will not be payroll paid this week.

Red5 and The9, our parent company, is currently working to resolve this, during the holidays, as soon as possible. We are hopeful we’ll be able to resolve this and will update the team immediately." [13]

Since July 2016,[14] all of the Red5 development team, including the Community Manager FadedPez, has been fired. Remnants of the Red5 crew have joined together to develop the new game Ember, which is based on the original concept of Firefall (Pre-The9),[15] which is based in the universe of their table-top game Crixa, of which both are being developed by Crixa Labs, a company lead by Mark Kern for making it. As of now there are no official statements regarding the future of Firefall from The9, but it is confirmed that the servers are still on, but the authenticating servers for new players are not.


  1. ^ Interview with Mark Kern (Red 5 Studios), Game Tycoon
  2. ^ a b The9 Limited Announces Acquisition of Majority Interest in Red 5 Studios, Red 5 Studios
  3. ^ Covel, Simona, "Start-Up Lures Talent with Creative Pitch", Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2007. accessed September 20, 2007
  4. ^ The Tribe Grows
  5. ^ Source: Red 5 Studios Lays Off Workers
  6. ^ "Orson Scott Card and Red 5 Team Up to Pen the Story of Firefall". July 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ [1]. The9 substitutes Webzen for Asian Publishing
  8. ^ [2], Red 5 Singapore
  9. ^ Scimeca, Dennis (January 18, 2012). "Why one game developer is skipping E3 to start an anti-SOPA crusade". Ars Technica. 
  10. ^ Martin, Matt (May 30, 2012). "Irish Government helps attract Red 5's new European office". 
  11. ^ Hornshaw, Phil (December 20, 2013). "BREAKING: Red 5 Board Votes Out Co-Founder Mark Kern As CEO". GameFront. 
  12. ^ Murphy, William (May 26, 2015). "Interviews: The Future of Red 5 with Chris Whiteside". 
  13. ^ a b "Sources: Game Studio Red 5 Misses Payroll On Christmas". Kotaku. Retrieved 2015-12-28. 
  14. ^ |url= |title= Faded Pez July 25, 2016 Twitter: No longer with Red5 as of today
  15. ^ "Ember - Crixa". 

External links[edit]