Human Head Studios Shuts Down, Bethesda Swoops In And Hires Entire Staff

Human Head Studios Shuts Down, Bethesda Swoops In And Hires Entire Staff
Credit: Epic

You hate to see a studio go under. Human Head Studios, the developer best known for their 2000 hit game Rune and the original 2006 Prey, has officially closed its doors. Typically with a story like this comes the news of dozens if not hundreds of layoffs, but thankfully that isn’t the case here.

Bethesda has hired every single employee of Human Head a position at their new Madison, Wisconsin studio, which they’re calling Roundhouse Studios. It’s not uncommon for laid-off talent to be scooped up by other studios, but it’s pretty much unheard of for an entire laid off staff to get hired as a whole and shoved into another studio.

Chris Rhinehart, the former project lead and co-founder of Human Head, has been given the job of Creative Director at Roundhouse. According to Rhinehart, the team at Human Head had great passion and creativity, and while one could cynically point out that these types of platitudes are pretty run-of-the-mill and standard fare in a sad situation like this, there obviously has to be some truth to it if Bethesda saw fit to keep the entire team employed.

While Human Head’s catalog isn’t that big, they’ve more than proven their worth as a developer (ignoring the critical panning of their 2018 beat’em up The Quiet Man). Rune was released in 2000 to critical acclaim and was popular enough to justify an expansion and a Playstation 2 port. Prey, released in 2006, got flack for its underwhelming multiplayer but received high praise for its graphics and gameplay. PC Gamer gave Prey it’s 2006 “Best Action Game” award and, ironically, that year’s “Best Multiplayer Game” award as well.

Prey made more than enough money to earn a sequel, but in 2009 Bethesda Softworks bought the rights to the franchise and canceled the game. A re-imagining of Prey, developed by Arkane Studios, was released in 2017 for Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

Human Head Studios managed to released Rune 2 just this week, on November 12, before announcing their closure. While it’s too early to tell how the game is faring critically, early impressions of the game were somewhat mixed. Human Head seemed to take this feedback to heart and the game was delayed several times, so here’s to hoping they polished everything up and good and went out on a stellar high note.