In a news post, Human Head Studios announced that they will be officially shutting down. While this would normally be viewed as a tragic end, the company revealed at the same time that they reached out to one of their former publishers, Bethesda, to see what they can do for future endeavors. To everyone’s surprise, Bethesda outright offered the entire development team an employment opportunity, and in the process, announced a brand new studio made up of those developers, Roadhouse Studios.
Press release from Bethesda: pic.twitter.com/oSDsUvPQC4
— Johnny Cullen|Mapel/[REDACTED] – Coming Soon! (@JohnnyCullen) November 13, 2019
The team will begin working on new projects right away for Bethesda, and judging from the press release as well as the news post, not one developer was laid off during this seamless transition. Chris Rhinehart, the new Creative Director at Roadhouse Studios, stated that “We reached out to our friends at Bethesda for help, and they saw that same creativity and passion in our team. With the formation of Roundhouse Studios, Bethesda offered every employee of Human Head a position at the new company. We are excited our team will remain together, pursuing the work we love, as part of a company we already know and admire.”
Rhinehart was one of the co founders of Human Head Studios way back in 1997. He was also the director on what was arguably the company’s greatest achievement, the first Prey game which came out in 2006. Human Head Studios also worked on notable titles such as Batman: Arkham Origins, and assisted Irrational Games on Bioshock Infinite. Their latest project, Rune II, launched recently, as in yesterday November 12 on the Epic Games Store. So to see them shut down out of nowhere was quite a shock, but it also shows that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that we’re not always made privy to.
However, the most well known project that the developer worked on is one that sadly never saw the light of day; Prey 2. Originally announced shortly after the first title, the studio was still working with 3D Realms for the license and 2K for the publishing duties respectively. However, things changed drastically in 2009 when the trademark was transferred to Zenimax, the parent company of Bethesda. This made the company the new owners of the IP, and for a while Human Head wasn’t sure what the future of their project was going to be. Things looked like they cleared up in 2011 when Bethesda announced that Prey 2 was still in production and that Human Head would continue to develop it.
Unfortunately, due to numerous issues between the companies, the game’s progress was halted for many years. Things came to a head when rumors stared swirling that Human Head was no longer working on the title, and was instead moved to one of Bethesda’s proprietary studios, Arkane Studios. Finally in 2014, Bethesda officially canceled Prey 2. Arkane Studios would go onto reboot the franchise in the critically acclaimed 2017 title Prey while Human Head continued with their other projects. It’s a nice surprise to see the developers working alongside Bethesda once again, as it also shows both parties willingness to move on from the past.
In the ever evolving and changing video game market, it’s wonderful that the employees aren’t going to lose their jobs, and will continue to do what they enjoy doing. Even greater that they won’t even have to move, as the new studio is going to be based in Madison, Wisconsin, where Human Head has also called home for more than 22 years. In addition, Roadhouse is also the second studio to join the Bethesda umbrella in the last month. The company acquired Alpha Dog Games, a mobile developer out of Nova Scotia, Canada. It will be interesting to see what they develop in the coming years.