Microsoft Closes and Consolidates Bethesda Studios

It’s a bloodbath at Bethesda. Today, Microsoft announced (via IGN) that they’re shutting down three Bethesda studios: Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks, and Alpha Dog Games. Arkane Austin was the studio behind the first-person shooter Redfall, while Tango Gameworks developed the survival horror game The Evil Within and its sequel, as well as the “rhythm-based action game” Hi-Fi Rush. Alpha Dog Games made the mobile game Mighty Doom, which looks like Doom for little kids to me. Additionally, ZeniMax Online Studios, who developed MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online, will absorb Roundhouse Studios, which used to be called Human Head Studios and doesn’t seem to have done much since the name change beyond helping Arkane to develop Redfall.

As a result of these moves, Redfall is being discontinued, and while it will still be playable online, it will not receive some updates that were to come with a DLC called Hero, although those who already purchased it will receive “make-good offers.” Mighty Doom will be “sunset” in August, which I assume means “discontinued.” (Remember in The Fugitive when Tommy Lee Jones tells his team, “I don’t want you guys using words around me that have no meaning”?) Other games appear to be safe. As for the employees of these studios, some will be redistributed elsewhere while others will be laid off. Xbox Game Studios head Max Booty sent this email, which has been obtained and verified by IGN, to Bethesda staff members:

“Today I’m sharing changes we are making to our Bethesda and ZeniMax teams. These changes are grounded in prioritizing high-impact titles and further investing in Bethesda’s portfolio of blockbuster games and beloved worlds which you have nurtured over many decades.

To double down on these franchises and invest to build new ones requires us to look across the business to identify the opportunities that are best positioned for success. This reprioritization of titles and resources means a few teams will be realigned to others and that some of our colleagues will be leaving us.

Here are the changes going into effect:

Arkane Austin – This studio will close with some members of the team joining other studios to work on projects across Bethesda. Arkane Austin has a history of making impactful and innovative games and it is a pedigree that everyone should be proud of. Redfall’s previous update will be its last as we end all development on the game. The game and its servers will remain online for players to enjoy and we will provide make-good offers to players who purchased the Hero DLC.

Alpha Dog Studios – This studio will also close. We appreciate the team’s creativity in bringing Doom to new players. Mighty Doom will be sunset on August 7 and we will be turning off the ability for players to make any purchases in the game.

Tango Gameworks – Tango Gameworks will also close. We are thankful for their contributions to Bethesda and players around the world. Hi-Fi Rush will continue to be available to players on the platforms it is today.

Roundhouse Games – The team at Roundhouse Games will be joining ZeniMax Online Studios (ZOS). Roundhouse has played a key role in many of our recent game launches and bringing them into ZOS to work on The Elder Scrolls Online will mean we can do even more to grow the world that millions of players call home.

With this consolidation of our Bethesda studio teams, so that we can invest more deeply in our portfolio of games and new IP, a small number of roles across select Bethesda publishing and corporate teams will also be eliminated.

Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified today, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with respect and compassion. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted in today’s notifications and through their transitions, including severance benefits informed by local laws.

These changes are not a reflection of the creativity and skill of the talented individuals at these teams or the risks they took to try new things. I acknowledge that these changes are also disruptive to the various support teams across ZeniMax and Bethesda that bring our games to market. We are making these tough decisions to create capacity to increase investment in other parts of our portfolio and focus on our priority games.

Bethesda remains one of the key pillars of Xbox with a strong portfolio of amazing games and thriving communities. As we look to the future, there is an impressive line-up of games on the horizon. In 2024 alone we have Starfield Shattered Space, Fallout 76 Skyline Valley, Indiana Jones and The Great Circle, and The Elder Scrolls Online’s Golden Road. As we align our plans and resources to best set ourselves up for success in this complex and changing industry, our teams across Arkane Lyon, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, MachineGames, ZeniMax Online Studios and the Bethesda publishing and corporate teams will be well-positioned to build new IP, explore new game concepts, and expand on our existing franchises.

– Matt”

Arkane Studios and Tango Gameworks shared statements about the closures on X:

It looks like Microsoft wants to consolidate Bethesda’s game development, since that email emphasizes focusing on their bigger titles and franchises, like Fallout, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls, as well as games they’re hopeful about, like Indiana Jones and the Great Circle and Blade. And looking at the responses to these games, some of these moves make sense while others are somewhat confusing. On the one hand, Redfall was apparently so bad the Microsoft gaming president apologized for it, so I get why they’re scrapping Arcane Austin. However, Hi-Fi Rush and the two Evil Within games were successful and well-liked, which makes Tango’s discarding a bit puzzling; I wonder if those are the majority of the employees Microsoft wants to spread to other Bethesda studios to work on their higher-profile games. I don’t see any games in development at Tango, so maybe that’s for the best, along with the culling of studios that weren’t producing hits.

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