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After 21 years, Warner Bros is closing Rooster Teeth

 Rooster Teeth logo - a rooster and some wind-up teeth.
Rooster Teeth logo - a rooster and some wind-up teeth.

I was never a Halo fan but I always enjoyed the antics of Red vs Blue, a groundbreaking machinima that followed the antics of a hapless group of soldiers in the Halo universe. It debuted in 2003 (although its roots go back even further) as the first production of Rooster Teeth, and has continued to run until this day. But Red vs Blue is ending this year, and according to a Deadline report so is Rooster Teeth, which is being closed by parent company Warner Bros Discovery.

"Since inheriting ownership and control of Rooster Teeth from AT&T following its acquisition of TimeWarner, Warner Bros Discovery continued its investment in our company, content and community," Rooster Teeth general manager Jordan Levin said in a memo. "Now however, it’s with a heavy heart I announce that Rooster Teeth is shutting down due to challenges facing digital media resulting from fundamental shifts in consumer behavior and monetization across platforms, advertising, and patronage."

Levin said Rooster Teeth's closure "reflects broader industry dynamics," including "monetization shifts, platform algorithms, advertising challenges, and the ebb and flow of patronage" that have resulted in numerous closures throughout the industry. The closure of Rooster Teeth coming alongside the final season of Red vs Blue wasn't intentional, he added, but "it's only appropriate."

Warner is also looking into selling off Rooster Teeth's catalog and properties, including Red vs Blue, RWBY and Gen:LOCK, as well as the Roost Podcast Network, which covers a range of categories including gaming, true crime, fandom, comedy and food. The Roost Podcast Network will continue operating as usual in the meantime.

Rooster Teeth may not have the cultural relevance it once did, but for online oldsters in particular it was a genuine institution. From Red vs Blue it expanded into numerous other machinima and live-action video series; its presence was such that in 2006, Electronic Arts commissioned it to create ads for EA Sports games. One of the ads it created for Madden NFL 07 prompted a complaint from Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark, who said the video made him look like a "punk." In response, Rooster Teeth released a "director's cut" version in which Clark basically played all positions perfectly, and eventually cloned himself so there'd be at least one other player on the field capable of tackling him.

Red vs Blue is probably Rooster Teeth's best-known gaming series, but I actually first encountered it through PANICS—People Acting Normal In Crazy-ass Situations—a comedy machinima based on the still-unsurpassed horror-shooter FEAR.

Tell me this isn't gold:

Tinged with nostalgia though it may be, the closure of Rooster Teeth sucks. But it may also be a sign of bigger changes coming to Warner. Earlier this week, the company said it wants to focus more on free-to-play and live service games in order to avoid the revenue pitfalls of big-budget standalone games; it also informed Small Radios Big Televisions maker Owen Deery that it's "retiring" the game from Steam and the PlayStation Store "due to internal business changes."

Rooster Teeth's first Red vs Blue, which I still think is very funny, is below. The final season is set to air later this year.