Rocksteady Studios co-founders Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker will be leaving the studio at the end of 2022, just months before the expected release of its next game, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. The announcement of their departure came from Warner Bros. Interactive president David Haddad, who called them "great leaders of the team."
"Visiting Rocksteady Studios has always been a highlight for me personally—the attention to detail, the energy of the people, and a sense of what it is like to be in a high performance studio," Haddad wrote. "They have committed to the highest quality and excellence across all facets of game development while ensuring an outstanding culture of caring for their employees."
Hill and Walker said the decision to leave Rocksteady "was emotional to say the least," and that the studio "has been our life and soul" from the day it was founded in 2004. "It has given us the opportunity to do what we love most: Make great games with exceptionally talented people. We are so proud of the team here for the games we have all made together, from our first game Urban Chaos, to the much-loved Arkham series, and now the epic Suicide Squad."
"Now with Suicide Squad in safe hands, and the team here stronger than ever, it's time to hand over the reins, and for us to start a new adventure together in games."
Rocksteady's director of production Nathan Burlow will take over as studio director, while Darius Sadeghian will step into the role of studio product director. Haddad said Burlow and Sadeghian are "extremely talented executives [and] passionate about continuing the high-quality game development at Rocksteady for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and all future games."
A message from Jamie & Sefton “We wanted you, the Rocksteady fans, to hear it first; we have decided to leave Rocksteady... From the day we founded the company all the way to today, Rocksteady has been our life & soul.”https://t.co/3ZRs1NMom2 pic.twitter.com/98I6YOgZrYOctober 26, 2022
Despite the upbeat tone of the announcement, the timing of their departure has caused concern among some Rocksteady fans. There's been some chaos at WBIE thanks to a 2022 merger with Discovery that saw the sale of at least one Warner-owned game studio and the cancellation of numerous television shows and movies, most notably Batgirl, which was well into post-production when the plug was pulled.
Suicide Squad was originally supposed to be out this year and so it's possible the decision to go was made before the delay, but that happened back in March and there was no word about a major shakeup at the top until now. At this point in development there's presumably nothing left but to do but polish the game, which means there's no more creative work left for Hill and Walker anyway. But for the optics alone, I would think that Warner would be eager for them to stick around at least until the game is out the door.
Unsurprisingly, some fans saw the impending departure as bad news for Suicide Squad, and Rocksteady as a whole:
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League still doesn't have a fixed release date, but we expect it to arrive sometime in spring 2023.