Matt Booty, interim CEO and president of Midway, emailed employees of the company today, explaining the reasoning behind the shuttering of its Austin-based studio and the decision to nix the unannounced Career Criminal. The game, described by Booty as a "a large, ambitious, open-world project" was dropped — and most of the team laid off — because the "resource needs, feature set, schedule and financial profile for the Career Criminal project were not converging towards a reasonable chance of success." In the e-mail forwarded to Kotaku this afternoon, Booty emphasizes that Midway's Austin studio will soldier on, albeit with a much, much leaner staff, and continue to work on "other projects in development at the studio" as well as house its Central Outsourcing Group. The full communication from Booty to employees can be found after the jump.
From: Booty, Matt Sent: Monday, August 11, 2008 3:15 PM Subject: Austin Today we are canceling the Career Criminal project in our Austin studio and there will be a reduction in headcount of about 80 people. First and foremost, I want to emphasize that we are not closing the Austin studio and that the studio will continue to be an important part of our product development organization, will continue working on new game titles, and will continue to be the home of our Central Outsourcing Group. The Career Criminal title was a large, ambitious, open-world project. Midway management recognizes that ambitious games need extensive resources and can require lengthy development cycles with much iteration. We are willing to invest in the long run and we need to continue developing new intellectual properties. But all of our projects have to demonstrate a likelihood of success and profitability. The resource needs, feature set, schedule and financial profile for the Career Criminal project were not converging towards a reasonable chance of success. I know that the Austin studio has had its share of challenges and upsets over the last year, but on the whole, the studio has shown dedication and perseverance and we are going to get behind the talent and leadership and move forward. As a company, we remain committed to developing the core technologies needed for large open-world games. We will also continue to make intelligent decisions about which tech is best suited for each individual project. We should avoid the temptation to explain away difficult issues by declaring our tech unsuited or unfit for open world games. Without question, open world games are challenging to make, and we have a lot of obstacles to get past, but I have total confidence in our teams to meet the challenge. The Wheelman project gets increasingly more polished and fun as they approach beta, and the team has done a great job with the streaming technology and open-world toolsets needed to make a compelling free-roaming action driving game. The team working on This is Vegas is also working through the thorny issues involved with a truly next-gen open world game. The release of TNA iMPACT! Wrestling next month and the release of Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe later this fall will prove that our teams have done a great job of taking a solid code base, building on it and streamlining it, and making it meet the needs of a diverse range of titles, from fighting games to driving games. The Austin studio is important to us in a growing and competitive game development location. Although we are canceling a major title, the other projects in development at the studio will continue, and we will continue to invest in new teams and new people going forward. Our Central Outsourcing Group — which has become an outstanding resource for all of our development teams across the company — will also remain active in the Austin studio. We are invested in developing frontline, competitive games, and we are committed to supporting our teams and studios. Part of that commitment is a continual and honest process of evaluation and making sure that our resources are going to projects that set us up for success. We will continue to evaluate all of our projects in this same manner. This was a difficult decision, but it is the right thing to do for the health and future of the company. If you have any questions, please talk to your team lead, studio head or manager, or feel free to email me. - Matt