Nintendo Reportedly Wanted to Shut Down Retro Studios After Metroid Prime Shipped

The road to Metroid Prime was paved with good intentions.

Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios was founded in 1998 by a game industry veteran with a lot of money and support from Nintendo with the intention was for the studio to deliver four launch titles for the GameCube. What ended up happening was a series of painful layoffs, a fired CEO, insane crunch, four cancelled games, and Metroid Prime. Reportedly Nintendo was ready to shut the studio down after getting a game out of the studio.

After reading Polygon's history of Texas-based Retro Studio's inception and eventual path to Metroid Prime, it's lucky we got Metroid Prime at all. Due to a scandal which saw the company lose its founder and CEO for running a risqué personal site from Retro's servers, the layoffs, and disappointing cancelled games, Nintendo was ready to cut its losses in the company it invested in.

Luckily when Metroid Prime launched it was a hit and Retro was able to keep going as a Nintendo studio.

Metroid Prime

With a skeleton crew of developers after two rounds of layoffs that cut into the bone of the company, Metroid Prime was released to critical acclaim. The reason Prime made it was that the survivors of the layoffs were some of the best developers around ("It's like this awful sociopathic way of doing business," said one developer) and a desire from the Metroid team to prove their mettle. "Fuck all the people doubting us. We're going to do this," said one developer who said that in the last year the drive to finish Metroid came from this primal place rather than any sense of company loyalty.

Retro was founded by Jeff Spangenberg of Iguana Entertainment fame. The studio promised four launch games for the GameCube, but after failing to impress Nintendo of Japan Miyamoto gave Retro the Metroid IP and a mandate to get it done. One developer called their time working on Metroid Prime "One of the worst experiences I've ever had." Another developer likened the Metroid Prime team as "abused dogs," and "That last year of development was just incredibly awful."

Why Nintendo of Japan gave Metroid to Retro in the first place is anyone's guess considering how Retro seriously failed to impress Nintendo with its four works-in-progress. One employee speculates that Miyamoto, like Lucille Bluth towards Gob, never really cared for Metroid. "Miyamoto didn't like the Metroid series, in terms of the old Metroids. He doesn't get them; those aren't the types of games he likes to play." The fact that Metroid was always more popular in the west might have given Retro the opportunity to make Metroid Prime, but there was a lot of losses along the way, stressful management practices, and excessive overtime.

Since then Retro went on to make two more Metroid Prime games and Donkey Kong Country reboots. The studio is currently working on an unannounced new game. Metroid Prime 4 is currently in development for the Nintendo Switch but under a new developer. And while Retro might be in a better place now than when it started, it can't be overstated how lucky it is that we got Metroid Prime, let alone three of them in the series.

For more on Metroid Prime, check our our Metroid Prime 4 Everything We Know guide for all the latest news stories, rumors, and announcements.

Tagged with gamecube, Metroid Prime, News, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Retro.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Retro Studios is Hiring Key Positions for Metroid Prime 4

Retro is looking for a Lead Art Director and Character Designer, among other positions.

The 10 Best Cosplays We Saw at PAX East 2019

Welcome to PAX East. Normal clothing is entirely optional.

A New Patch Lets You Play the Oppressive Metroid 2 in Full Color

A little color should brighten SR388 right up (oh God it didn't work)!

Metroid Prime 4, Friendly Fraud, and Our Dystopian Present

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Delay to anticipated Nintendo sequel wraps up a week riddled with negative news.

What the Metroid Prime 4 Remake Says About the Now Popular "Logo Reveal"

Logo reveals are a risky gamble, but they've become necessary.

Metroid Prime 4 Delayed - Release Date, Trailer, Nintendo Switch - Everything we Know

We’ve rounded up all the details on Nintendo’s highly anticipated Metroid Prime sequel, Metroid Prime 4 for Switch, including the developer working on the game.

More News

Mario Kart Tour Beta Impressions are Out, and It Looks Like It Has Some Heavy Microtransactions

Details from Mario Kart Tour's closed beta includes how microtransactions work.

Report: Riot Games Working With Tencent To Develop Mobile League of Legends

But it's not likely you'll be destroying Nexuses on the go this year.