Denis Dyack’s Silicon Knights may effectively be no more, according to new reports.
Polygon believes that the studio “is down to just a few employees, has closed its office and has sold off office equipment and game assets”. The studio is continuing to fight a legal battle with Epic Games.
However, SK is not dead according to CFO Mike Mays who insisted that the remaining staff are “very busy” and that the company is “definitely alive”.
In October of last year Silicon Knights had already been reduced to as few as five employees. And the studio’s founder Denis Dyack recently revealed that he and a number of other former Knights had opened new studio Precursor Games and is now seeking Kickstarter funding for a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness.
That project has to date attracted $131k of its $1.5m goal.
Dyack confirmed his departure from Silicon Knights on the studio’s forums.
"It has been a very long time," he wrote. "I am sorry I was away so long, it was not intended and I truly regret that I could not interact more with you all.
"As most of you already probably have seen, I am no longer at Silicon Knights and I joined Precursor Games some time ago. I do see that some people are disappointed at the way things turned out, so was I and many others, believe me. However, rather than dwell on that, we are moving forward a positive direction."
Precursor is understood to have acquired some of Silicon Knights’ assets such as office equipment and computers – a move that Epic is said to be investigating. Indeed, the Unreal Engine provider has already received assurances that engines and assets from SK have not been transferred to Precursor.
Essentially the concern is that Dyack is liquidating SK in an effort to escape its debts and start afresh with a new studio. This is theoretically legal providing the correct loopholes are passed through, although escaping from its debt to the Canadian government – which could total as much as $4m – may well prove more complex.
This is an accusation that Precursor Games CEO Paul Caporicci strongly denies.
"Silicon Knights was selling off extra assets to laid-off employees and we, along with others, purchased some of them," Caporicci insisted.
"Like so many others who have been laid off in this difficult economy, we are simply trying to turn a tough situation into something positive. This helps gives us an opportunity with Shadow of the Eternals to give the gamers something that have been wanting."
"We are a completely separate and independent entity and always have been. Precursor is not and never has been a party to that case, and is not involved in it whatsoever. We purchased completely wiped clean machines, that is all. There is no basis for any liability or any claim against Precursor Games.
"We wish Silicon Knights the best of luck in their future."