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Take-Two’s Hangar 13 Cuts Staff After Canceling a Major Game

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(Bloomberg) -- Video game developer Hangar 13, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. best known for developing the 2016 game Mafia 3, instituted a round of job cuts this week.

In a virtual meeting, the studio president, Nick Baynes, said some roles would be eliminated, called the news “horrible” and sought to reassure the remaining employees that he does not expect further layoffs. “All of you who are here now, you’re Hangar 13 still and will continue to be so,” he said in the meeting, a recording of which was heard by Bloomberg.

A spokesperson for Take-Two’s 2K publishing label confirmed the job cuts but declined to say how many people were affected.

“2K is fully committed to the future of Hangar 13 as the studio navigates a challenging but ultimately promising transition period,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We are doing all we can to work with the impacted employees to find them new roles on other projects and teams at 2K, and are providing full support to those who cannot be redeployed, connecting them with industry networks and resources to find new opportunities outside of 2K.”

The game studio, which has offices in Novato, California; Brighton, UK; and the Czech Republic, had recently told staff that it wasn’t planning layoffs following the cancellation of a major game, code-named Volt, Bloomberg reported in November. Then another project, code-named Mosaic, was quietly canceled this year, according to a person familiar with the company’s inner workings. The decision left several hundred people with little work to do.

Hangar 13 is developing two games. One is a new entry in the Mafia series, code-named Nero. The other is a tennis game code-named Hammer, said the person familiar with the projects, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Some Hangar 13 staff are also assisting other developers within Take-Two’s 2K publishing label. New York-based Take-Two had 7,800 employees as of March. Baynes said in the staff meeting that in the wake of Volt and Mosaic’s cancellation, the company had tried to find roles on these projects for everyone at Hangar 13 but that those who could not fit were let go.

The last few years have been turbulent for Hangar 13. Following Mafia 3’s release, the company went through several fits and starts as it tried to get approval for a new Mafia game. A series of shakeups led to multiple rounds of layoffs and uncertainty for those who remained at the studio. Hangar 13 eventually set out to make its own new franchise, going through multiple iterations before it landed on the ill-fated Volt.

Baynes became president earlier this month after the departure of Hangar 13 founder and former boss Haden Blackman. During the call, Baynes said he is aiming to green-light a sequel to Nero while it is still in development, largely to avoid repeating the same mistakes and having workers displaced once the project is finished.

Hangar 13’s office in Novato, where the company was founded, is located on a decommissioned Air Force base called Hamilton Army Airfield. Several Take-Two subsidiaries have worked on the base and had ill fates, such as a game developer known as 2K Marin that shut down in 2013, leading former employees to wonder whether the airfield is cursed.

(Updates with company comment and context starting in the third paragraph.)

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