It should've been a big week for Human Head Studios. Rune 2 finally completed its rocky voyage onto store shelves, nineteen years after its predecessor. Unfortunately, Human Head's latest would turn out to be their last. Today, the developers announced they'd be "closing the book" on the studio as we know it.
Fortunately, it's not quite the end of Human Head entirely. The developers will continue their day jobs under new moniker Roundhouse Games, thanks to the intervention of Bethesda Softworks.
After 22 years as an independent studio, Human Head broke the news that "economic realities" had forced their closure. But thanks to a timely deal with Bethesda, it appears nobody at Human Head has suddenly found themselves without work.
"When we realized the company would have to close, we wanted to do whatever we could to keep the team together and keep each member of our talented staff employed, right here at home. That’s when we reached out to Bethesda Softworks to see what might be possible. As a result, we are proud to announce that the development team from Human Head is becoming part of Bethesda as a new studio based in Madison, WI, called Roundhouse Studios. The entire staff has been offered new roles with Bethesda, and it’s exciting to know that our team, which has accomplished so much together, for so long, can continue doing what we love."
From the looks of things, developers at Human Head will still clock in at the same office for the same job. They'll just have to get used to being called Roundhouse Studios, checking in with their new bosses at Bethesda.
Beyond the Rune games, Human Head are probably best known for mind-bending 2006 shooter Prey (not that one). They got quite far into making a sequel, too. Unlike Arkane's total departure, Prey 2 was at least tangentially grounded in the original, even as it ditched supernatural gravity nonsense for a bounty-hunting romp in an alien cyberpunk open world.
They also performed plenty of support work for other studios, lending a hand with art production on games like BioShock Infinite, Brink and Just Cause 3. Right now, we don't know how this new arrangement will change development plans or company structure going forwards.