Epic Games shutting down Baltimore studio

dranii@newsobserver.comFebruary 11, 2013 

Video game maker Epic Games has decided to shut down the Baltimore office it opened last year and has put development of its latest “Infinity Blade” game on hold as a result.

Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of the company behind the blockbuster “Gears of War” and “Unreal Tournament” franchises, posted a message on the Cary-based company’s website announcing that the Baltimore office, called Impossible Studios, is closing.

Impossible Studios has been working on the prequel to Epic’s popular “Infinity Blades” games for Apple mobile devices, so the decision “means that ‘Infinity Blade: Dungeons’ is now on hold as we figure out the future of the project,” Sweeney wrote.

The shutdown of the Baltimore office comes in the wake of the recent departures of two high-profile executives: Cliff Bleszinski, better known as CliffyB, whose creative leadership accorded him rock-star-like status in the gaming world, who left in October; and Mike Capps, president, who departed in December but remains on Epic’s board of directors and continues to have an advisory role.

Epic announced last summer it was establishing a new game-development studio in Baltimore that would be staffed by former employees of Big Huge Games, the company behind “Rise of Nations” and other popular games. Big Huge Games went out of business last year after its corporate parent folded.

“It was a bold initiative and the Impossible folks made a gallant effort, but ultimately it wasn’t working out for Epic,” Sweeney wrote on the Epic website.

“In addition to providing Impossible Studios employees with three months of severance pay,” he added, “we’ll be giving the team the opportunity to form a new company with the Impossible Studios name and the awesome Impossibear logo,” he added.

Epic spokesman Wes Phillips said in an email that the company isn’t giving any interviews or providing any other details about the closure of Impossible Studios, including how many employees are based in Baltimore.

“Tim’s statement is the only statement we’re making on the matter,” Phillips wrote.

Sweeney said in an interview in October that the company was hiring “at least a couple dozen” former Big Huge staffers in Baltimore.

“It was an incredible opportunity that came up,” he said at the time. “We’re very nimble. When we see an opportunity, we can jump on it without the hesitation that many bigger, more top-heavy companies might have.”

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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