Ion Storm closes its doors

The legendary development studio behind the Deus Ex and Thief: Deadly Shadows series is no more.

One of the most storied development studios in game history has shut down. Today Eidos Interactive officials confirmed to GameSpot that the company is shuttering Ion Storm, its Austin, Texas, studio.

A statement issued by the Britain-based publisher outlined the closure with typically cool corporate logic. "Eidos today announced locally that it is to consolidate down its North American internal development capabilities from two studios to one," read the statement. "This will mean the immediate closure of the Ion Storm studio in Austin, Texas, which has been focused primarily on the development of PC and Xbox games. ... This is part of [Eidos'] move to consolidate and strengthen its technical and management capabilities into a smaller number of studios which are capable of scaling up in order to meet the competitive challenges that lie ahead, particularly in anticipation of next-generation technologies and platforms."

However, the brief statement was hardly a fitting epitaph for Ion Storm, which has seen some of gaming's most celebrated--and controversial--talent walk through its doors. The company was founded in 1996 by Doom cocreators John Romero and Tom Hall after the pair exited id Software. Shortly thereafter, the studio was bought outright by Eidos. Funded by Eidos and located in a Dallas penthouse, Ion Storm labored for the next three years developing and hyping the genre-bending PC game Daikatana. When it was finally released in 2000, the game received almost universally awful reviews. Its failure spurred Hall and Romero's departures, as well as the closure of Ion Storm Dallas in 2001

Despite Daikatana's failure, 2000 was not a total bust for Ion Storm. That year, the developer's Austin studio released Deus Ex, a groundbreaking hybrid that successfully combined shooter and role-playing game elements. The award-winning PC title (followed two years later by a PlayStation 2 port) was the pet project of veteran Warren Spector. A longtime employee with Dungeons and Dragons creator TSR and Ultima developer Origin Systems, Spector joined Ion Storm in 1997 and was appointed to its board of directors in 1999.

In August of 2000, following the closure of Looking Glass studios, Eidos picked up the rights to the acclaimed Thief series and made Spector project director of the franchise. Within two years, Spector had been appointed studio director of Ion Storm's Austin shop, now its sole studio. During his tenure, he oversaw two high-profile projects: Deus Ex: Invisble War and Thief: Deadly Shadows. Despite lofty expectations, the two games received a mixed critical and popular reception when released in December 2003 and May 2004, respectively. In particular, Invisible War was accused of being overly simplified for consoles, causing a backlash in the PC community.

As 2004 came to a close, rumors began to circulate that Ion Storm was in trouble. In November, Spector resigned his post to "pursue personal interests." In December, Invisible War executive producer Harvey Smith left to join Midway's newly founded Austin studio (nee Inevitable Entertainment). Ion Storm's future was further clouded by the financial woes of Eidos, which has been actively courting corporate suitors for a takeover since last summer.

However, it wasn't until today that Ion Storm's number was finally up. Eidos representatives said the closure will result in "the displacement of some 35 jobs." At the same time, Eidos announced it will "be scaling up development capabilities at its Crystal Dynamics studio in San Francisco with the recruitment of some 50 or so new personnel as it moves from a two- to a three-team studio." Though they did not say specifically whether or not any of the new personnel would be from Ion Storm, Eidos reps did say the "employee head count" at Crystal Dynamics, which is currently developing the new Tomb Raider game, would increase to more than 180 persons.

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17 comments
everson_rm
everson_rm

Ow man... Deus EX is the one of the bests games of all time... its a shame... and I even knew it... :( R.I.P.

Godofbattles
Godofbattles

Dang Hey Gamespot Is Assaissans creed A sequel to Theif Deadley Shadows please tell me could it possebly be Garrets Son lol.

world69star69
world69star69

You can all blame this on the "next gen consoles"! I hate them systems, it says here they had to shut down and "Consolidate" the studies to make ajustments for upcoming next gen consoles. In other words, Eidos said "screw the pc, screw unique story inspired good gameplay. and screw you!" I guess Eidos feels soul less fps and 3rd person games with arcade console action is better then story-driven, rpg elemented hybrid fps games that deliver emotion from the players. What were they thinking, a holes! The only other good thing out of Eidos lately has been tomb radier series being made by crystal dynamics. Who else do they have, why would they shut down this studio? Then theres warren spectres "Resign for personal pursuits" You know what his pursuits are---To make console only games, fn greedy bastard!! The man helped design some of the best atmospheric games in existence, but instead would rather make shallow console only games....What a greedy jerk.. I hate how the gaming industry is so bent on getting a quick buck by targeting instant gratification, attention deficeit disorder kids, who don't have patience for a good story driven rpg-hybrid, instead they would rather play shallow games non-exploration button mash games like devil may cry series, and cartoon games.. Thank god for Bioshock! At least that game is great! But how long before we see another game from that style? Story driven fps/rpgs are few and far between, it sucks. Another of my favorite game devs troika also got shut down, they made a killer little game that didn't get enough attention-- Bloodlines. I hate this crap it really brings me down! Bring back the glory of the story based fps/rpg genre!

PR3D4TOR2
PR3D4TOR2

Come on ppl at Crystal Dynamics dont be such a loosers and make Deus Ex 3 and Thief 4 !

dexfx69
dexfx69

DUES EX 3 is released, under a different name: "Project Snowblind". It's an awesome game that was not promoted enought to battle Doom 3 and HL2. Check it out !

Lost2017
Lost2017

Deus Ex is one of my most favorite games at the moment, they'll never be anything like it until bioshock comes out.

mattxavier
mattxavier

I hope the wil eventually be a new Deus Ex game.

bipeds
bipeds

I really hope that Eidos will release the Thief sequel with Crystal Dynamics studio as their developer.

ninjai18
ninjai18

One of the saddest stories in gaming history. :( They truly were one of the best game development companies ever. They could not have ended on a better note with two of the best games ever made, Thief: Deadly Shadows and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Such a great development team, you will be missed. :(

midway_nights
midway_nights

Damn. does this mean that we will not be able to see the sequel of THIEF:deadly shadows in future. and will it never be ported on ps2???/ really thats sad, i loved THIEF :deadly shadows because that was the perfect game i have ever played in my life for that game i had to arrange my pc because i dont have xbox (i have ps2) the graphics sounds ambiant enviroment even the writing and walking style, enemies and player's textures had full detailed that made a complete amazing enviroment of theif. and i was just waiting for its sequel and just preying that when it will be available on ps2. now this news making me sick................

godless_b
godless_b

damn its sad that they hade to close.. guess this is the final end of deus ex...

teknocack
teknocack

Wow!! I'm first. How unlikely is that? My life is changed forever!!!!!!!! (Note the dates for the humor here) I suppose I should say something germane to the story so I will say that I don't know what went on inside Ion Storm but I bet that the people who needed to have a clue didn't and the people who did have a clue were too little too late.