Microsoft closing Redfall, Hi-Fi Rush studios among other cuts

Microsoft closing Redfall, Hi-Fi Rush studios among other cuts

Microsoft is closing three Bethesda studios: Redfall developer Arkane Austin, Mighty Doom developer Alpha Dog Studios, and Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks. A fourth developer, support studio Roundhouse Games, will have all staff reassigned to a new team. Xbox Game Studios leader Matt Booty announced the news to staff in an email Tuesday citing a reprioritization of “high-impact titles,” according to IGN. Arkane, Alpha Dog, and Tango Gameworks confirmed the closures on their respective X accounts.

“Today it was announced that Arkane Austin will close and development will not continue on Redfall,” Arkane said in its X post. Arkane Lyon continues development on its own projects, it said. Redfall players who purchased upgrades and were still waiting on DLC will not receive them, Arkane said, pointing those impacted to a Bethesda website where players can eventually apply for credit. Microsoft has not published details yet on how to receive that credit. Booty’s letter to staff said that “some” Arkane staff will join other Bethesda projects.

Microsoft has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment.

Mighty Doom, a top-down shooter based on the Doom franchise, will go offline on Aug. 7 after the studio closure. Players are no longer able to make purchases in that game, according to the studio’s X post. People who spent real money for in-game currency can also apply for a refund. Tango Gameworks will also close, while Roundhouse Games will merge with ZeniMax Online Studios to work on The Elder Scrolls Online.

Arkane Austin, Alpha Dog Studios, and Tango Gameworks each released a game in 2023: Redfall, Mighty Doom, and Hi-Fi Rush, respectively. Hi-Fi Rush was the most successful of all of them after it was surprise-released early in the year. The action rhythm game was a far cry from Tango Gameworks’ The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, for which the studio had previously been known. The studio also released Ghostwire: Tokyo and Hero Dice in 2022.

Meanwhile, Redfall from Arkane Austin didn’t live up to expectations — even Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer called its release “disappointing,” but said the team was still committed to fixing its problems. Both Arkane and Tango Gameworks have been part of ZeniMax for more than a decade.

Responding to the closures, Arkane Lyon co-creative director Dinga Bakaba called the cuts “absolutely terrible” in a thread on X. “Permission to be human : to any executive reading this, friendly reminder that video games are an entertainment/cultural industry, and your business as a corporation is to take care of your artists/entertainers and help them create value for you,” he wrote. “Don’t throw us into gold fever gambits, don’t use us as strawmen for miscalculations/blind spots, don’t make our work environments darwinist jungles. You say we make you proud when we make a good game. Make us proud when times are tough. We know you can, we seen it before.”

Alpha Dog is perhaps the lesser known of the three dismantled studios; it had previously worked on mobile games. The studio was acquired by ZeniMax Media in 2019 and brought under Microsoft in 2021 during the $7.5 billion ZeniMax acquisition. Roundhouse, which will merge with ZeniMax Online, was previously known as Human Head Studios but closed after publishing Rune 2 in 2019; it was reborn as Roundhouse Studios under Bethesda shortly after.

It’s unclear exactly how many people are impacted by the studio closures. The news comes just months after Microsoft announced it was laying off 1,900 people, or 8% of its workforce, following its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. More than 10,000 people were laid off across the video game industry last year; that number has been nearly matched just five months into 2024. While 2023 may have been defined by layoffs, 2024 seems to be fraught with studio closures. Just one week into May and at least six studios have closed now, with these three (and a fourth closed in name) Bethesda studios joining Take-Two Software’s Roll7 and Intercept Games.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that Microsoft is closing three studios and reassigning all staff of a fourth to a new team.