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Microsoft closes four of the Bethesda studios it worked so hard to acquire

Affected studios include the makers of Prey, Redfall, Hi-Fi Rush, and The Evil Within series, with staff notified via email.

Microsoft closes four of the Bethesda studios it worked so hard to acquire

On Tuesday, May 7, 2024 Microsoft announced the closure of four Bethesda studios, and an unknown number of staff layoffs. The studios set to close are:

  • Arkane Austin, the developers of Redfall and the critically acclaimed Prey
  • Tango Gameworks, creators of the widely-praised Hi-Fi Rush and The Evil Within series
  • Alpha Dog Games, known for the iOS and Android game Mighty DOOM
  • Roundhouse Studios, formerly known as Human Head Studios, responsible for Rune II

It is unknown how many developers within each studio will remain employed by Microsoft and Bethesda. An internal email sent to affected staff by Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, indicates that some staff members will be reshuffled to other studios which will remain in operation.

Bethesda Game Studios, responsible for Starfield, the Fallout series, and the Elder Scrolls series, seemingly remains unaffected for now, as does Arkane Lyon which is currently working on Marvel’s Blade.

In the wake of the announcement, numerous games were shuttered completely. Redfall, which only released one year ago on May 2, 2023, will no longer receive any development. The game’s Season Pass, included in the $99.99 Redfall Bite Back Edition, is now dead in the water. Players are due to receive compensation via a “Redfall credit program” which has not yet been finalized.

As a final blow to fans, the upcoming Redfall offline mode has been scrapped. It is unknown if the game, which requires an online connection at all times, will become unplayable in the near future.

Microsoft’s decision to close four Bethesda divisions comes only three years after the Microsoft-Bethesda acquisition. Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to acquire Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media, and in so doing secured many of the studios it has now closed.

At the time of the acquisition, Xbox Boss Phil Spencer stated “it’s vitally important that Bethesda continues making games the way it always has. We look forward to empowering Bethesda’s creative teams to reach even more players around the world, helping make future Bethesda titles the biggest and most popular games in their history.”

Microsoft, currently valued at $3 trillion, declined to comment on its decision to close four major studios when approached by IGN.

Microsoft’s stance, as stated in the internal email from Matt Booty, states “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.”

You can read the full email, verified by IGN, over on IGN’s original report.

In the wake of Microsoft decision:

  • Tango Gameworks will close despite creating a game so well-received that it was among the first Xbox-exclusive titles to be made multiplatform.
  • The closure of Alpha Dog Games has also eliminated support and development for Mighty DOOM. The game will no longer be playable as of August 7, 2024. As a result, players will soon be able to request refunds for purchased in-game currency.
  • Roundhouse Games will be reshuffled into ZeniMax Online Studios to work on The Elder Scrolls Online.