2K Games confirmed today that Haden Blackman, longtime president and creative director of mob studio Hangar 13, is leaving the company. The news of Blackman’s departure comes alongside a kotaku report saying that a new mafia game is now in the early stages of development.
“It is with mixed emotions that I share with you several leadership updates from Hangar 13,” 2K wrote in an internal memo shared with PC Gamer. “Haden Blackman is stepping down as head of studio for Hangar 13 and is leaving the company to pursue his passion in a new venture.
“We are grateful for Haden’s leadership in establishing Hangar 13, building and uniting teams in Novato, Brighton and Czech, and releasing several games and mafia collections that define the studio. What Haden helped build will continue to advance and grow in the years ahead. years. We support all of our employees in pursuit of their passions and wish them nothing but the best for them in what comes next.”
Blackman will be replaced by Nick Baynes, who joined Hangar 13 in 2018 to establish and lead the studio’s Brighton office.
“I hope you’ll join me in thanking Haden and wishing him the best, and congratulating Nick on a well-deserved promotion. While change can be challenging, it can also generate new opportunities and success,” 2K wrote. “We are confident that the studio is in great hands for the various projects currently underway, and the team is fully supported by 2K.”
Blackman isn’t the only Hangar 13 executive to leave the studio in recent days. COO Matthew Urban also forged ahead, according to his LinkedIn page, which indicates that he ended his time in the studio in May 2022. “What an amazing ride on H13,” Urban wrote on the site. “Let’s see what comes next.”
It’s been a rough half-decade for Hangar 13. After releasing the decidedly not-great mafia 3 in 2016, the studio passed “significant” layoffs in 2018, and had a multiplayer superhero game called off after spending $53 million on “multiple iterations” over years of development.
While Kotaku’s report cites only one source “familiar with the plans”, a return to Mafia makes sense: Mafia 3 didn’t impress, but there was real enthusiasm for Mafia: Definitive Editionreleased in 2020, which has a “very positive” rating in over 35,000 user reviews in Steam. The new game is reportedly a prequel to the Mafia trilogy and will ditch the Mafia 3 engine in favor of the Unreal Engine 5.
2K Games declined to comment on the Kotaku report.