It's been a wild week for Human Head Studios. They finally launched Rune 2, the oft-delayed sequel to their third-person Viking murderer from way back in the year 2000, then shut down and immediately reformed under Bethesda as Roundhouse Studios. I was surprised by this, but my surprise is nothing compared to what Rune 2's publishers felt. "We found out about this news when you did," they said yesterday, and they'd been counting on Human Head being around for ongoing support. They assure they're working to fix bugs and will continue their post-launch content plans but sheesh, that's a surprise alright.
The Rune 2 team said in a statement yesterday:
"Today, developer Human Head Studios announced that they closed their doors and will be starting a new studio. This is shocking news to us, as there are several entities working on Rune II – we found out about this news when you did. Human Head had a longstanding agreement with Rune II's publisher, Ragnarok Game, LLC, to provide ongoing support for the game. We are working quickly to resolve any current technical issues while we build the team that will execute the exciting planned future of Rune II's post-launch content strategy. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work through any launch issues.
"Our plan remains to continue working on Rune II and launch onto other PC platforms in 2020."
That's a heck of an agreement to blow up with no warning. Human Head said yesterday that their "entire staff" were offered roles at Bethesda and the team lives on, so it is only the company that's gone. But I suppose it's Human Head Studios the company that signed the agreement.
Rune 2 is currently an Epic Games Store exclusive, with the Steam release to follow. As for post-launch content plans, the gang say they're looking forward to talking about them. I'd guess their schedule may be in need of readjustment.
It's still wild to me that Human Head joined Bethesda, the company which quietly killed their Prey 2. The full story of that was never known publicly, but it sounded messy between rumours of Human Head halting work to get a better contract and Bethesda curtly saying the game wasn't up to scratch. Maybe the actual truth is less bitter. Either way, Human Head said that "economic realities" forced their shutdown and joining Bethesda did let them keep everyone employed. There are certainly worse outcomes.