The last week has undoubtedly been a difficult one for Hardsuit Labs, the now former developer of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2. News broke on February 23 that Hardsuit Labs was being replaced as developer for Bloodlines 2 by publisher Paradox Interactive. The last week has undoubtedly been a difficult one for Hardsuit Labs, the now former developer of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2. News broke on February 23 that Hardsuit Labs was being replaced as developer for Bloodlines 2 by publisher Paradox Interactive.
Gamasutra confirms that the Seattle-based studio has been hit with layoffs following its surprising removal from Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2. According to now former staff members that were laid off, the majority of those let go were part of the narrative team. This was confirmed by Samantha Wallschlaeger, a narrative lead at Hardsuit Labs, who noted that "all of us on the narrative team were affected." Wallschlaeger was appointed to the role of Bloodlines 2 narrative lead in October 2020 after an two month vacancy in the position.
The news of the narrative team being affected was further confirmed by Jordan Mychal Lemos, senior narrative designer at Hardsuit Labs, who announced that he had been laid off as well. It is currently unknown if the layoffs have affected any of the other teams within the studio.
HSL has made the decision to do layoffs today, and all of us on the narrative team were affected. If you or your team is looking for an amazing writer or narrative designer, boy do I have three excellent recommendations for you.
— Samantha Wallschlaeger (@StillNotSam) March 1, 2021
This recent news about layoffs hitting the studio can be viewed as another notch in what has been a noted difficult development cycle. Despite being announced in 2019, Bloodline 2's initial release date was scheduled for "Q1 2020." After Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 faced numerous delays to differing estimated release periods, alongside the exit of key staff members from the project, last week saw the most drastic measure being taken with the change in developer.
The recent set of layoffs follow two critical exits from the project in 2020, with prominent members behind Bloodlines 2 leaving Hardsuit Labs. In August 2020, Creative director Ka'ai Cluney and narrative designer Brian Mitsoda were fired from Bloodlines 2, marking a significant warning for fans of the roleplaying game. Mistoda was especially concerning for fans as he served the same role of narrative lead in the original Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Considering the cult status of the original 2004 title by developer Troika Games, many excited players tempered their expectations following this news.
There are still many questions surrounding the current status of Bloodlines 2 as well as who is currently developing the title. The news of Hardsuit Labs removal from the project comes at a strong financial point for its former publishing partner. Paradox Interactive reports significant revenue growth in 2020 despite the still ongoing global pandemic. It is unknown how much the coronavirus pandemic impacted Hardsuit Labs in terms of development, but ultimately Bloodlines 2 is left in a questionable state with no release in sight.