Metro 2033 studio opens Malta HQ amidst Ukraine upheaval

4A Games, the development house behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, is opening a new studio in Malta. While the team's home in Ukraine's capital Kiev will remain open, the new Malta studio will act as the team's headquarters going forward, headed up by Andrew Prokhorov, 4A co-founder and creative director, as well as Oles Shishkovstov, 4A's chief technical officer.

"By basing our new headquarters in Malta, a member state of the EU, 4A Games will be able to better compete on the international stage," said Dean Sharpe, 4A Games' newly appointed CEO, in a statement on the studio's website. "Malta offers fantastic incentives for game development, and we are confident 4A Games will be able to attract the very best talent from Ukraine, Malta and beyond."

4A Games has a tumultuous history. Since opening in 2005, the team has struggled with meager resources and poor facilities in Kiev, but it won notoriety with its debut in 2010, the narratively rich PC and Xbox 360-exclusive Metro 2033. Follow up Metro: Last Light, meanwhile, was in danger of not seeing release due to publisher THQ dissolving in 2013. Despite those hurdles, Deep Silver published Last Light and was met with strong sales and positive reviews.

More recently, 4A Games has contended with far more dangerous circumstances. Based in downtown Kiev, 4A Games was surrounded by the popular uprising that ousted former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych as the beginning of 2014. While 4A Games had maintained a steady presence on social networks like Facebook, it went silent during the January and February conflicts between protestors and Kiev's police forces. Joystiq attempted to reach 4A Games for an interview on February 20, but the studio declined to answer questions due to "rapidly changing situations" according to its representative.

On February 21, the day Ukraine's parliament ousted Yanukovych, 4A Games broke its silence online. "People of Ukraine, Heroes of Ukraine, please do not go to the death," wrote Andrew Prokhorov on the studio's Facebook page. "Within 2 to 3 days the Сattle collapsing itself... And his rotten soul is not worth a hundredth part of the soul of any of the Fallen Heroes... Please give a little time to make other mechanism start to work. And today it showed a bit. Please, do not die! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!"

While another message was posted on February 23, 4A Games again fell silent online as the Ukrainian political climate became more divisive and volatile. Nearly two months after Russia annexed Crimea and as the country struggles to stave off civil war, 4A's creative leads are leaving the country to continue making games in a more stable region.

[Images: 4A Games]