Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks have been shut down

Microsoft is making big cuts three years after purchasing ZeniMax Media.

Arkane Austin

Microsoft has shuttered three ZeniMax teams: Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks and Alpha Dog Studios. The company is also folding Roundhouse Games into Zenimax Online Studios. Arkane Austin is the home of Prey and Redfall, while Tango is responsible for The Evil Within, Ghostwire Tokyo and Hi-Fi Rush. Alpha Dog is the creator of Mighty Doom and Roundhouse was a support studio for ZeniMax projects.

In an email to employees, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty outlined the upheaval, stating that some workers would transition to other teams under ZeniMax's purview. Most employees, however, will be let go. Here's Booty's breakdown of the layoffs for each affected studio:

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.

Additionally, "a small number of roles across select Bethesda publishing and corporate teams will also be eliminated," Booty's email says.

In summary, at least when it comes to the games: Redfall development has been stopped completely and people who spent $100 on the game's Bite Back edition will be eligible for a partial refund to compensate for the DLC they never received. Sign ups for the refund are right here. Hi-Fi Rush will remain playable. Mighty Doom will shut down on August 7.

The remaining studios under ZeniMax Media, which is owned by Microsoft, are Arkane Lyon, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, MachineGames, ZeniMax Online Studios, and the Bethesda publishing and corporate teams. Arkane Lyon is currently building Marvel's Blade and it's the home of Deathloop and the Dishonored franchise.

The co-creative director of Arkane Lyon, Dinga Bakaba, shared his reaction to the layoffs on X with the following thread:

This is absolutely terrible. 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.

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.

For now, great teams are sunsetting before our eyes again, and it's a fucking gut stab. Lyon is safe, but please be tactful and discerning about all this, and respect affected folks' voice and leave it room to be heard, it's their story to tell, their feelings to express.

Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media — including Bethesda, id Software, Arkane and Tango — in 2021 for $7.5 billion. The acquisition marked an escalation of Microsoft's efforts to eat the entire industry: The company acquired five mid-size teams in 2018, including Compulsion Games and Ninja Theory, and by February 2019, there were 13 studios under the Xbox Game Studios banner. The ZeniMax purchase cleared regulators in 2021, setting the stage for Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard, one of the largest game producers in the world. The Activision Blizzard acquisition was the most expensive in Microsoft's history, costing around $69 billion. After nearly two years of regulatory negotiations, the purchase was cleared in February 2023.

It's not just Microsoft making the video game industry smaller. Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, Epic Games and publishers of all sizes have been gobbling up talent in a rash of post-pandemic corporate consolidation, and this has led to an avalanche of mass layoffs in the industry. In 2023, an estimated 10,500 people in video games lost their jobs, breaking previous annual layoff records. Prior to today's studio closures, roughly 9,400 video game workers had been fired in 2024, setting a pace that should outstrip last year's figures.