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Hangar 13 Bosses Leave, New Mafia In Development

Hangar 13 studio head Haden Blackman is leaving the Mafia III maker after seven years, 2K Games announced Wednesday. The publisher wrote in an email to staff that the former LucasArts veteran is going to “pursue his passion at a new endeavor.” Kotaku understands that the move comes with a new Mafia game very early in development at Hangar 13, according to a source familiar with the plans.

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“We are grateful for Haden’s leadership in establishing Hangar 13, building and uniting teams in Novato, Brighton and Czech, and releasing multiple studio-defining Mafia games and collections,” 2K wrote in an internal communication shared with VentureBeat and others. “What Haden helped build will continue to carry forward and grow for years to come. We support all of our employees pursuing their passions, and we wish nothing but the best for him in what’s next.”

What 2K didn’t mention in the email was that Matthew Urban, Hangar 13 chief operating officer, has also left the studio. “What an amazing ride at H13…….let’s see what is next,” he wrote on LinkedIn. These shifts come as Hangar 13 pivots from original projects back to established franchises like Mafia, the open world, third-person shooter series that’s often compared to Grand Theft Auto—except with a more mob-movie approach.

Replacing Blackman is Nick Baynes, currently studio head at Hangar 13's Brighton, UK office, which Kotaku understands to be leading development on a new Mafia game. While the project is still early in development, its code name is Nero and it’s expected to be a prequel to the Mafia trilogy. The plan is to make it in Unreal Engine 5 instead of the Mafia III engine that was recently used for the remasters.

Read More: How The Makers Of Mafia III Lost Their Way

“With 30 years of industry leadership experience, Nick joined Hangar 13 in 2018 to establish Hangar 13 Brighton, and has spent the last four years growing the team, building up the studio’s capabilities, and launching terrific projects like Mafia: Definitive Edition and the Mafia Trilogy,” 2K told staff Wednesday.

Hangar 13 has been in a precarious position for years. After shipping the ambitious Mafia III, it suffered two rounds of layoffs, first in 2017 and then again in 2018. The studio had several ideas for new IPs during this time and beyond. As previously reported by Kotaku, one was a spy game revolving around music cues called Rhapsody. Another was a class-based co-op action game in the vein of Destiny 2. Code-named Volt, it was quietly cancelled by parent company Take-Two last year after $53 million had already been spent on development. A third new IP code-named Mosaic was a loot-based ARPG and was also abandoned before it was ever officially revealed.

More recently, Take-Two has been using Hangar 13 developers to assist on its other published games like Gearbox’s recently released loot shooter Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Most are still working remotely, and Kotaku has been told that some, following Blackman and Urban, are also looking for the door.

2K Games declined to comment. Here’s the full email announcing Blackman’s departure:

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