According to numerous reports and a handful of staff forum posts, Interplay has closed renowned RPG developer Black Isle Studios, shut down the Van Buren (Fallout 3) project and laid off around 14 development staff.
Disgruntled former staff members have already spelt out their frustration with the publisher's decision. One former employee, speaking to RPGDot, confirmed that "Van Buren has been 'shelved', as the geniuses at IPLY have put it," adding that "Console only is the word of the day now."
He continued: "Even though Van Buren was halfway finished, [Interplay] have decided they want to do Exalted console and FOBOS2 [Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2]. The simple fact they are making FOBOS2 even when FOBOS hasn't shipped and is hated by the Fallout community says a lot," he added. "Not to mention Van Buren would be the only game they could possibly ship by Xmas next year."
RPGDot has posted a list of staff members believed to be affected by Interplay's decision.
Black Isle Studios is best known for critically acclaimed RPGs like Fallout, but despite developing some of the most popular PC role-playing games of the 90s, the developer has been struggling recently, with a Dungeons & Dragons project reportedly shelved earlier this year due to legal wrangling with rights-holders Wizards of the Coast, while the game that may be their final credit, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II, has been held back for early 2004 after Interplay's scrappy legal dispute with Vivendi-Universal Games.
BIS designer Damien "Puuk" Foletto summed up the feeling with his forum post. "I don't know where I'll end up," he said, "but know that we were all avid gamers and wanted to make the PC games that not only we wanted to play, but also the fans."