2K Australia In Canberra Closes Its Doors

A source has just informed us that 2K Australia, the studio in Canberra that most recently brought us Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors.

It was confirmed the entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. "All hands are gone," said our source.

2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating out of Australia were apparently to blame for the decision.

Sources close to the situation informed us that, at one point, a move to Melbourne was being planned, in an attempt to help attract new talent to the studio. This allegedly caused many high-level members of the team to leave and that may have factored into 2K's decision to shut down the studio.

2K provided us with the following statement, confirming the closure.

We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process for 2K Australia in order to better manage ongoing development costs while improving the working proximity of our creative teams. We are very grateful for the team’s valuable contributions to numerous 2K projects, and are working with affected staff to explore reassignment opportunities where possible.


Comments

    Damn shame that XCOM game never got a fair shake. I saw a demo at their offices a few years back and it was looking awesome.

      I saw that as well, when it was still first-person. That was my first press trip as a journo actually. It looked great!

        Sweet and young if I remember Dan :) Is a very sad day for all the guys down there, hopefully there are some safe landing spots for them.

      The Bureau? It had it's fans but was generally panned. I've seen the opinion that it would probably have done better without the X-Com branding. It set a certain expectation that the finished product didn't live up to. On the other hand, people wanted something more like Enemy Unknown. When that came out, I can't help but wonder if that stole The Bureau's thunder somewhat.

        The Bureau had very little in common with the FPS this team were originally working on....

          I think even the FPS probably would have done better without the XCOM branding. It just felt like a bit of a slap in the face to fans of the series to use the brand name with no subtitle but make a completely different game. Kind of "this is what a game is supposed to be, previous titles don't count".

          Did you see the skin-ripping alien monster? The one that left the now-skinless victim running around? That was bad-ass. Gross and bad-ass.

          Was there a separate Xcom FPS in development or are you referring to the fact that The Bureau underwent substantial reimaginings throughout development?

        I think Yahtzee said it best.

        The Bureau is the game that 2K have been threatening to make for a while now, "Let's turn another beloved 90s franchise into a shooter".
        But then everyone was like, "This shit ain't my XCOM!"
        So 2K was all like, "Oh OK then, here's XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a faithful remake of the original turn-based management gameplay brought up to speed with better presentation and more intuitive design".
        "This is exactly what we want," said everyone. "Wasn't so hard, was it 2K? Thank you for not going through with that generic shooter idea."
        "Emm," said 2K awkwardly, "We're actually kind of still making that."
        "Oh, good for you, bye then."

          2K Australia didn't do the turn-based XCOM remake, only the Bureau FPS. People bought the former, but not the latter, as you observe.

      I remember the excitement after seeing the first trailer (?) for it!

    But, where will I get work in the gaming industry now?

      You're best bet is to be an independent. Sure, it's fucking hard work, but no one can shut your ass down...

        Lack of money sure CAN shut your ass down!

      In another country?

        But why would I leave the wise and fulfilling Abbot government that demands we save our money while they use our money for personal plane flights?

          The Abbott government is supporting the local games developers. Its called Newstart Allowance...

          Last edited 16/04/15 5:30 pm

            Neither the Coalition nor Labor care about games so it's not exclusive to the Abbott Government.

      Where the work is. Australia is not the whole world and neither side of politics takes gaming seriously.

      US and Europe take gaming far more seriously than Australia (both sides are as bad as each other) and you should be able to somehow work from home if need be.

      Last edited 17/04/15 9:26 am

    Damn I have a few friends who work there :(

      Me too :( was just talking to one about it. So sad!

        The thing is now, unless they go overseas there's no major studio to work for over here and their skills aren't readily applicable to other jobs within Australia except maybe the artists. That's a lot of coders and designers that have nowhere to go :(

          Coders always have somewhere to go. They'll land on their feet, just maybe not in the games industry if they stick around in Aus.

          Designers have a tougher time of it.

          Coders can get jobs working in corporate IT easily enough. It would be batshit boring of course, but they could if they wanted to.

          Yeah, what the other guys said is right. I know a couple guys who code, actually. They hate it and think it's boring as hell, but they make stupid good money for it.

    There goes another AAA Australian developer. Does pre-sequel not earn enough to sustain?

      The money from that project would go to head office. The Canberra studio, like most developers, would rely on the existence of upcoming projects rather than on the success of previous ones. No upcoming projects means no developer.

      While I love the Pre-Sequel (it’s my current console game of choice) I don’t know that we should call it a AAA title in this case.
      It was made using mostly existing assets and the engine and mechanics were largely designed elsewhere.

      From a development/budgeting perspective it was more of a AA kinda game. It’s not like they were tasked with making Borderlands 3.

      That shouldn’t take anything away from the game itself though. The writing, missions, settings and changes made are all brilliant and the game itself is certainly AAA value and fun.

      I’m sure it did turn a profit, it certainly deserves to, but if what lots of people are saying is true then it doesn’t change the reality that the same game could be making more profit if it was made elsewhere.

      Pre sequel was utter shit... so no.

    That sucks. I loved that game and it was especially cool because of the uniquely Australian things in it. I get the reasons for it but it's such a shame. How will an industry that relies on human creativity ever retain quality staff when there is little to no job security.

    Great creative people will end up working at banks and then we all lose. Unless they make banking more fun?

      Even as a Kiwi I loved it. It was nice to see some references that don't relate to US pop culture for a change.

    Very poor news indeed. Wishing all the best to those affected. If you see any gamedev jobs around, get a tweeting and sharing those links.

    Boo-urns

      I just watched that episode this morning :) Barney is awesome.

    Crap news but tbh, not unexpected. It's why a lot of industries are closing down over the last few years and will do so in the years to come. It's too expensive to make cars here. Today there's an article on ABC about how the ship building industry is 30-40% more expensive in Australia compared to overseas.

    Medieval 2 Total War, one of my favourite games ever, was made here in Brisbane. It's more a shame that any Government has done nothing at all to keep an Australian game developing industry alive

      It's more a shame that any Government has done nothing at all to keep Australian Industry alive

      Edit: except for the Mining industry...

      Last edited 16/04/15 12:51 pm

        The game development industry would benefit from the same sort of tax cuts and subsidies that the mining industry is afforded. But hey, tax cuts for big biz is naughty, eh?

          This is the approach Montreal has used to grow their new digital industries. It has worked splendidly.

          The reality is those policies can work to establish an industry and those like the games industry are the sorts of industries Australia should be working towards.

          Instead, our Governments (of all persuasions) are stuck in a 1900's protectionist mindset, and our industry policy isn't about looking forward and supporting and growing potential future industries, but rather keeping the horse and cart alive as long as possible.

          I've always been an advocate for Australia industry policy to be providing better support and assistance to digital and creative industries.

            This - exactly this. Everything you have said is true, and sad, very very sad.

            Yeah this is point i wanted to make but didn't have the time/effort to follow through.

        Well that looks to be taking a downturn also, job cuts galore. Keep an eye on the Renewable energy sector that is coming on to its own now

          Except the Renewable Energy sector has tanked since the Coalition Government came to power, as they're not committing to a proper sustainable energy target, plus their repeated attempts at axing any organisation that has anything to do with climate change or renewable energy.

            The problem with renewables is that they cost an absolute fortune and rely almost entirely on subsidy to exist. Oh, and they are dependent on the weather, which we have learned now, is not to be depended on. Nuclear energy all the way. I want a nuclear reactor in my home like the 1950s said we would have. Unlimited energy they said...

          But Tony Abbot says climate change doesn't exist and we should just keep our heads in the sand. Who should I believe, industries' bitch or hundreds of climate scientists?

        Yep that industry on which pretty much all your beloved goods are made.... Utter bastards....

      Government government government.

      If the government "helps" the industry, all it's doing is off-setting the very things it put in place that makes the industry suffer in the first place. Things like inflated wage increases, over-regulation, over-taxation, red tape, etc.

      If the government got out of the way and let business be, then studios would thrive and prosper.

      The industry will continue to hit this barrier until we become more open to capitalism and less regulation for business.

      If you want more regulation to keep corporations in check, then struggling industries have no hope. That is what you need to accept.

        It's not about bailing them out, 2K didn't shut the studio down because they had no money, but things like the over-taxation and red tape, those are things that a government should be looking at in order to encourage investment in Australia, not having companies pulling out of the country.

        If there's too much regulation then the government should be looking at cutting that out. Nowhere did I say that there should be more regulation, I just said the Government didn't look at ways it can assist companies over here because they simply don't care about the industry.

          It's not just this industry though. It's the broader business community. It is far too hard to operate a business here because of over-regulation and rising costs. There is a general hostility towards business here, because of government, and yet we turn to government to "assist" the industry. The only way it can assist it is by getting out of the way, but unfortunately it can't do that because at the same time we campaign for higher tax rates for corporations, and breath down the neck of internationals that minimise their tax. It is far too risky to invest here because of our reliance on government. This is *our* fault.

            Is it?

            Go and make a submission to the red tape reduction website then. Go and name some costs and regulation that shouldn't exist to them, they can then get rid of it.

            By the way, taxes are on profit. They are only a cost on the money after expenses such as wages, reinvestment, etc. They are also a multinational, i would doubt tax was a major consideration.

            I would imagine the main reason was development costs.... like they actually said.

          Aaaaand you're wrong. Over regulation, taxation and red tape didn't stop them. Development costs did. I.e. the cost of making games (employees, rent etc).

          I can't think of any over regulation which caused this for 2K and if you can name some, I would suggest you go to the Governments red tape reduction website and make a submission.

            That's why I said "if there's too much...". I don't know the ins and outs of the industry. If there's too much regulation the government should be reducing it. If there's companies leaving the industry (any industry especially in a tertiary sector) then the government should be looking at incentives to keep them here. Now that there's no AAA studio left in the country will we see any incentives to try and entice companies back here?

            However, if what people are saying down below is correct and it's more of a factor that high level employees didn't want to move to Melbourne then that's something else completely.

              I would be inclined to think it is what people have said below.

              Our $ increasing was why so many died off back in 2007-09. It decreasing recently has made it cheaper again.

              what do you expect the Government to do about it?? It's the Governments fault. lol!!

            Gotta agree. Firstly Braddon as the studios choice of location was surprising. As a local I can tell you rent there is very high. Secondly you'll always expect higher development cost due to our economy and remoteness from the rest of the world. Thirdly I don't think BLPS actually hit projected targets. Was an ok game....but not brilliant. Combined it probably was enough to nail the lid on 2K Aust.
            Having said that....
            I can only wonder "what if" had Mark Perrson hired 2K Aust to port and code MC instead of 4J for console. Something deep inside me feels that it would have revolutionised game dev here in Aust....and surely 2K Aust would've been on the map firmly and done brilliantly (and better). Ahhh........."what ifs"........

        Do you have any idea what corporations and capitalism does when there's no regulations? How about every goddamn financial crisis and debacle we've seen in recent years. The very reason the likes of the car industry has jumped ship is because it's cheaper to run it in China. And before you say, "it's cheaper in China because government made Australia expensive!" is That what you fucking want? You want us to get China wages, China hours, and then let the corporate executives off the hook for whatever shady deals they do just because 'it's not illegal'?

          That's all well and good and I don't disagree, but it's a double-edged sword: either we have that strong, prosperous industry that is as unregulated as possible, or we regulate and turn business away. It's one way or another.

          Unfortunately, your rhetoric is part of the reason why it's so hard to manage a large studio here.

          I mean, let's regulate. Let's do it! But don't complain when an industry *trying* to get on its feet can't. You reap what you sow.

            So 2K Australia made shit games and deserved to be fired?

            Last edited 16/04/15 2:14 pm

      Naval Shipbuilding is a bit different as it's a monopsony customer- they build ships pretty much exclusively for the Navy. If the Department for Defence do what they have done, which is programme ship projects willy-nilly, you can't get efficiencies from building multiple ships one after the other.

        We don't have the construction demand to gain any meaningful optimisation in shipyard efficiency. Without our navy tripling in size, local shipbuilding is never going to be an efficient industry.

      The really sad thing is that it has been expensive for the last few years, but Aus. development is suddenly becoming cheaper again just because our dollar has dropped so far. It's a pretty sad time for them to close.

    Very sad news.
    Not sure how they can blame 'the cost of operating in Australia' while we have a tanking dollar.

      Yeah that kind of threw me too. In one of my previous jobs, the boss was sweating when the dollar was threatening to exceed parity with the US dollar and kept wanting it to go down again.

      Even though that's the official statement, I suspect this is probably a larger reason:

      Sources close to the situation informed us that, at one point, a move to Melbourne was being planned for the studio, in an attempt to help attract new talent to the studio. This allegedly caused many high levels members of the team to leave and that may have factored into 2K’s decision to shut down the studio.

        Highly likely.

        I know a few very talented engineers and developers that moved to Canberra for work only to move away again 6 months later to Melbourne or Sydney because it was such an isolated, boring place to live they hated it there. You wont attract the best and brightest being based in Canberra.

    This is truly disappointing news, especially coming off the back of a successful game which showcased their talent.

    *Genuinely upset for the workers at 2k, and the game development community of Australia at large*

    I would have thought the tanking dollar would have been enough to make Australian wages cheaper but apparently not. Thanks 2K shareholders!

    That's very sad.

    I'll not put blame at the feet of government or anything, like other people are doing, but I'd like a little vision from them to incentivise the development of this sort of creative industry in australia.

    And the Australian Industry get's that much smaller. Remember, the heartbreak of this isn't us losing the games that we were hoping they'd eventually make. It's them having just lost the chance to even create those games in the first place.

    Here's hoping the whole team manage to find new work that they can be as passionate about as they were with 2K.

    Pour one out for 2K tonight....but make sure you clean up afterwards.

    hopefully if the folks laid off are still passionate about game development, they might be able to pull together for some more successful local Kickstarters - we've had some great resurgences in tactics games, classic platformers and RPGs ...maybe they could try similar for non-military narrative-based shooters?

    still a bummer though since I know people from studios like Krome, and a lot of admin roles end up out on their bums because they don't have such accessible options as current artists and programmers going indie

    Just last GCAP we had a guy from Gearbox telling us all that how great 2K Australia was for being a reliable and quality studio to work with on Borderlands.

    Thanks a lot for listening 2K America.

    In light of the bad news I've created a Google Doc with a list of available jobs for those super talented, extremely nice devs who are now left without a job. If you're hiring or know of someone who is hiring please contribute below:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Wa02IaQXS5giytRSV4pvDqfyrx3VdMIBwkqbJ5YX6AA/edit

      Nice, good job. There's still a few in Canberra.

    It says or suggests that a bunch of high level guys weren't willing to relocate to Melbourne.
    If you're not willing to relocate within Australia, let alone internationally, then you're
    probably not in the right industry - and shutting down was the right move.
    Especially since it was Melbourne they were talking about - not Coober Pedy.

      that for real? jesus, I thought people would give their left nut to relocate from canberra to melbourne.

        Some of us have family situations that make moving impossible. I managed to avoid 9/11 for that very reason, the business I would have been working for never recovered, no idea how many staff were lost.

      It's a fair point, but there's REALLY good chance it's just a baseless rumour fueled by resentment. Sorta thing happens a lot when areas shut down. Seen a few vendor centres shut down and the internal scuttlebutt on the unofficial reasons can vary pretty wildly.

        I worked at 2K when it changed from Irrational to 2K - and thanks to Ken Levine, Jon Chey and 2K they made big efforts to help people find new positions, rather than just lay them off. Along with others I was offered a new job in San Francisco, while a bunch of others went to Boston 2K. Prior to that was also given a new position when the one I was in didn't work out. And 2K also did a lot of profit sharing across their entire company - so I would tend to believe they did make some effort at relocation.
        This is in stark contrast to other studios I worked at where the usual mass dismissals, locked office doors on Monday, and 'see you later' were the order of the day.

      It really isn't that easy to pick up and relocate especially when you have a family to think about. Making your kids change school and starting afresh without knowing anybody, asking your partner to leave their (probably better paying) job, leaving all your friends behind. etc. Australia is a big country, it's a long way between Canberra and Melbourne. Far enough that you're not going to be able to go back every weekend to visit.

      If you're single, sure go for it, nothing stopping you. But many many professionals in this industry don't have that luxury. And yes I'm speaking as someone who is currently working in the industry.

        You're right - it's a choice. And a lot of people make it.
        I've worked in the games industry in Los Angeles, Germany, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. I have close friends from the US who I met in Germany, who then came and worked in Australia with their two kids, went back to the US and are now in Auckland, NZ. Their kids have travelled the world and seem amazing places while their Dad worked in games.
        When I worked at Crytek we had staff from 17 different countries, including three Australians. Half of them had families.
        When I worked in Australia I hired staff from Canada, England, Japan, China, the US, Curacao and Hungary and possibly elsewhere. Some of those were married with kids.
        It's logical that the wider you cast your professional net and the further you're willing to travel - the more talented people you'll meet and the better, more high profile companies and projects you'll have the chance to work on.

      Except for the armed forces or something incredibly specific like mining, I can't think of anything that should require moving. Especially something digital like game development. It's an office job, we don't expect other office workers to move.

        There is a reason people get together to work.
        • Face to face communication
        • The conveying of subtle information via voice, expression, body language etc.
        • The transfer of enthusiasm and motivation from being in the presence of someone highly talented or a good leader.
        • The development and evolution that comes from bouncing ideas off each other directly.
        • Co-worker bonds and friendships that grow from shared victories, hardships, social events etc.
        • The critical mass or tipping point of talent required to help everyone improve, because they are surrounded by those who are better or more experienced than they are.
        • Artistic techniques that can only be fully communicated and understood when seen in person
        ...and so on.

        And not only that, the act of traveling to and living in a new place is a great creative stimulator. New input = new ideas and fresh perspectives.

    They should all get together and make a damn BSG game for VR.

      Have you seen EVE: Valkyrie? It's as close as you're gonna get...

    I had the pleasure of working with 2K on the B-PS.
    In 10 years I had not worked with a nicer bunch of people.
    Not only does this suck for us gamers and for our country, but the fact that this happened to all those awesome people....just really sad.
    Hope you guys find new jobs quickly and can get back to making awesome new things.

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