AAA Veterans Launch Emptyvessel, New Studio Focusing On Immersive Shooters

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Things have been rough in the AAA gaming space over the last few years, and arguably the last decade. There's been a lot of turnover, as a good number of legendary studios have closed their doors and many others were shuttered before they even got a chance to shine. A high rate of turnover combined with a failure to make a return on big investments has led game companies to take a step back and re-evaluate their business.

Perhaps frustrated by this reality, veterans from companies like Id Software, Naughty Dog, Gearbox, and Infinity Ward have teamed up to form a new studio known as Emptyvessel, more commonly stylized as "emptyvessel". The fledgling studio has a lot of talent signed up already, including character artists, animators, and designers who have worked on games like Doom (2016), Call of Duty, The Last of Us, Borderlands, and many other legendary shooter games.

Emptyvessel says that its goal is to "create AAA quality games with smaller, focused teams." The idea is that the modern AAA game production process has become too bloated and resource-intensive. Not really all that long ago, the top-selling games used to be made by a few dozen people at most; now, it's not uncommon for an AAA game to have hundreds of people in its credits. Starfield has over 4,000 people credited on the game.

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While the studio is based out of state capital Austin in your author's native Texas, it operates fully remotely and has staff located globally. Emptyvessel says it is a "developer-founded, developer-first studio", meaning that it intends to avoid the pitfalls of larger developers and publishing houses that frequently make development decisions based on outside forces. In other words, game development first, business second.

Emptyvessel hasn't announced any games yet, but the company says that its first project will be an "immersive shooter" set in a dystopian science-fiction world. It'll be powered by Unreal Engine 5, and the studio says it has secured financing from Sisu Game Ventures, Raptor Group, "and other individuals."

It all sounds quite admirable, and the folks involved have been credited on gobs of great games—although we have to note a very specific art and management slant to the current staff, with few extant members having particular expertise in programming or hands-on software development. Of course, the studio is looking for more staff, so head over to the Emptyvessel website if you'd like to join up. It sounds like they could use the help.