Hangar 13 Games, which is a developer working under the 2K Games publishing label, is currently hard at work on their next projects after having released Mafia III back in 2016. The company’s next big projects, however, will be themed around and built by a “diverse” group of people, according to a memo sent out by the vice president of development, Andy Wilson.
Someone close to Take-Two Interactive shared the e-mail from Wilson with One Angry Gamer, which originally was sent out on September 10th, 2018 ahead of the Women In Games conference that took place at the theater in London, England, on September 11th, 2018, as outlined on the Women In Games official website.
In the short memo, Wilson discussed the studio’s dedication to getting more women into gaming, and reorganizing the studio culture to be more “diverse”. You can view the image of the letter below.
If you’re unable to read it, it states…
“[…] As you may have heard, Hangar 13 recently entered a long-term partnership with Women In Games, a UK-based (but globally-focused) organization looking to tackle issues and promote opportunities for women working in or trying to break into our industry. Their annual conference takes place in London this week, and I’m happy to say H13 will be there in a big way. As well as overall sponsorship, we will have a recruitment booth there and will be handing out an award at the European Advocacy Awards. The jewel in the crown, however, will be a panel this coming Tuesday featuring none other than Marianne Monaghan, Morgan Goin, Nicole Sandoval, Kelly Mangerino, Mel Ward, Lisa Kapitsas, and Chris Bigelow. They’ll be grilled by former Eurogamer journalist Ellie Gibson on their experiences working in games and you can find more info about the session here:
“Needless to say I am really thrilled that we’re becoming more activist as a studio and reaching out in this way. After some minor diversity-related activity at Develop in July, the WIG conference and partnership represents the first major step as we look to build Hangar 13 over the longer term into a truly representative and diverse team. It won’t just be WIG either – we have some other initiatives tentatively underway that will help us to get in front of a broader group of developers and potential recruits.
“Many of us here spent the best part of 4 years putting together a game which is being rightly remembered for tackling some tough subject matter and handling it exceptionally. It is mine and Harden’s firm belief that the more diverse we are as a team – in every sense of the word – the stronger we will become and the better our games will be. We’re at the beginning of this journey and if any of you have ideas in relation to improving diversity across our team then let me know directly as I’d be very happy to hear them.” [sic]
For reference, Mafia III shipped 4.5 million copies during its first week on the market, but it’s had a slow sales uptick since its initial launch. The PC version has yet to breach the 1 million mark according to Steam Spy, while Mafia II has sold more than 2.6 million copies on PC alone, according to Steam Spy.
Mafia III is also scored lower in every way on Metacritic compared to Mafia II, with the third game scoring an average 62 out of 100, while the second game has a healthy 77 out of 100, proving that both critics and gamers alike didn’t like Mafia III nearly as much as Mafia II.
Hangar 13 focusing on tackling sociopolitically-charged topics in the game while downgrading the gameplay and some of the graphical elements certainly didn’t help with review scores… nor sales.
There’s even a development postmortem by Kotaku for Mafia III that contradicts Wilson’s rosy depiction of the title. The article outlines many of the problems that Hangar 13 encountered while developing the game before and after its launch. Obviously the issues with the game went far beyond being solved by simply “diversifying” the staff at the studio.
Nevertheless, Wilson has been sedulously pushing for the diversity angle, even going so far as to tweet about the studio’s intention on multiple occasions.
We’re really excited about this. If we want to build a truly welcoming, representative studio then we have to find ways to expand the pool of people who want to apply. I’d call this ‘step 2’ after this year’s @developconf and there will be many more steps before 2018 is done. https://t.co/r0EtTik6DZ
— Andy Wilson (@andygwilson) August 29, 2018
Attempting to compensate talent and hard work for “diversity” at Hangar 13 seems to be a retread of what BioWare Montreal attempted to do with Mass Effect: Andromeda, which is a tactic that eventually led to Andromeda tanking in sales and EA shutting down BioWare Montreal.
Hangar 13 partnering up with the Women In Games initiative means that the company seems dead-set on pursuing the diversity initiative despite the fact that it has ruined more brands and studios than helped them.
That’s not to mention that the Women In Games initiative is a social engineering program from Facebook. It’s being spearheaded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The goal of the initiative is to either add more women to video game studios or replace men working at the studios until there’s a 50/50 balance in industry workforce between men and women.
Back in June of 2018 the first instance of the program went public with the #SheTalksGames panel that took place during the Coliseum at E3 in Los Angeles, California.
The panel discussed bringing more women into the fold by replacing male leads in games with female leads in typically male-oriented games like Gears of War 5 and Battlefield V.
The Women In Gaming initiative is being supported and sponsored by various studios and organizations, including Epic Games, UKIE, Jagex, and of course Hangar 13, to name a few. And as Wilson pointed out in the letter, it’s a global initiative; they’re working with development studios from around the world, which included having a significant presence at the Brazilian Independent Game Festival back in June of 2018.
Not everyone is entirely on board with what some of the development studios are doing in order to court social activism as part of the studio culture. Some employees from various major development studios have expressed to One Angry Gamer on multiple occasions that they worry that the quality of the games and the direction that the studios are heading in could be put in jeopardy as they focus more on skin color, gender, and sexual orientation rather than hiring in the most skilled developers to work on a project.
Other developers were worried about the quality of some upcoming unannounced games being affected by the politics of management. In each case where a developer has reached out to One Angry Gamer, they noted that they enjoyed working at the studios and enjoyed their jobs, but still had fears based on the direction that the company was moving in. And unfortunately, due to the current political climate, they requested to remain anonymous.