Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Media’s grand expansion continues. The company announced on Wednesday that it’s opening a brand new studio in Austin named Battlecry Studios, headed up by none other than Rich Vogel. Vogel was the executive producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic until he was laid off from BioWare Austin following one of the numerous rounds of layoffs that plagued EA’s floundering MMO across the summer.
Prior to working with BioWare on The Old Republic, Vogel worked on other standards of the genre including Ultimate Online. While his specialty is in MMOs, though, he won’t be joining ZeniMax Online, the studio hard at work on The Elder Scrolls Online. Job listings for Battlecry Studios do, however, call for developers with a “passion for online games.”
What could Battlecry Studios be working on? Bethesda’s main office is still busy pumping out content for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and rumors hint that it’s busy scouting locations in the Boston area for inclusion in Fallout 4.
Battlecry isn’t the only ZeniMax studio based in Austin though. It shares the town with Arkane Studios, the company behind the much hyped Dishonored. It’s likely that Battlcry’s task will be to build another original IP for Bethesda to use in its attempts to grow.
October is a big month for Bethesda Softworks and its parent company ZeniMax. Dishonored’s release next Tuesday marks the next phase of the company’s aggressive expansion beyond the role-playing realm of its core studios. Early buzz pegs Dishonored as one of 2012’s bright spots though.
Past efforts to build beyond Fallout and The Elder Scrolls haven’t worked too well in recent years. Wet slumped out to retail after a prolonged development, Brink was an interesting but failed experiment, and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge was ignored by players despite an aggressive marketing campaign (and deservedly so, since it was horrible.) Elsewhere ZeniMax has invested heavily in the development of other ambitious titles, and has had no problem with cutting them from the line up when they’re no longer working out. Prey 2 is a famous example from earlier this year. (Bethesda still hasn’t officially canceled the game, though it removed it from its website in August.)
The good news for Battlecry then is that Bethesda will fund it well. The bad news is that its early work has to be strong if the studio is going to survive.