Square Enix has closed Studio Istolia, cancelling RPG Project Prelude Rune and redeploying employees to other projects across the company.
“Following evaluation of various aspects of Project Prelude Rune, development of the title has been canceled,” a spokesperson told USgamer yesterday. “Studio Istolia is no longer in operation and we have been taking appropriate steps to assign studio staff to other projects within the Square Enix Group.”
Studio Istolia was established in 2017 and led by Tales Of producer, Hideo Baba. However, Hideo Baba announced last month that he was leaving Studio Istolia and Square Enix because of “management policies”, and Project Prelude Rune’s social media channels and website were removed without notice earlier this week.
“As of today, with the change in Studio Istolia’s management policies, I have resigned as the company president at the end of December 2018 to make way for the new generation of talent, and I also resigned from Square Enix at the end of March 2019,” Baba said at the time of his resignation. “I’d like to once again express my gratitude to the Square Enix Group for having provided various experiences. I will continue supporting from the sidelines, and wish with all my heart for the continued growth of the Square Enix Group.”
Square Enix released its financial results for the six month period that ended on September 30th 2018 and it was not looking bright for the Japanese firm. Net sales were down 15 per cent compared to the same period last year, while operating income plunged 61 per cent year-on-year to ¥10bn (£67.5m) compared to last year’s ¥25bn (£173m).
Following the release of this financial report, Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy XV’s upcoming DLC, due to launch throughout 2019, was being cancelled, with Hajime Tabata resigning from Square Enix and Luminous Productions to form his own studio, JP Games.
This latest studio closure joins several others we’ve seen in recent months. Just last week, Echo developer Ultra Ultra has announced it was closing down, and only a month after reportedly laying off an “undisclosed number” of staff from its American San Mateo studio, Iron Tiger Studios, South Korean online game publisher NCSoft has announced it was making “staff reductions” at Guild Wars 2 developer, ArenaNet, too.
Finnish studio Next Games also announced it is laying off 26 staff after it reviewed “the cost structure of the company’s operations”, and Activision recently laid off 8 per cent of its staff – 775 people.
Other closures include AER Memories of Old developer, Forgotten Key, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale developer, Define Human Studios, Daybreak, Starbreeze, Bandai Namco Vancouver, and Trion Worlds, best known for its MMO games. Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff in a ‘majority studio closure’ back in September.