2K Games' studio lineup has gone through some interesting changes lately. It formed a brand new studio, Cloud Chamber, to work on a new BioShock game. Visual Concepts completely took over the WWE 2K franchise to mixed results. 2K's portfolio still doesn't contain much that's new or exciting as the studio relies on popular series like NBA 2K, Civilization, XCOM, and Mafia. That could be about to change.
The studio formed last year as 2K Silicon Valley just rebranded as 31st Union, and we have every reason to expect exciting games from the studio based on the latest announcement.
2K confirmed the relaunch of 31st Union in a Tuesday morning tweet. The studio is based out of San Francisco, with plans to open an office in Spain. Led by Michael Condrey, known for his work on Dead Space and founding Call of Duty: WWII developer Sledgehammer Games, 31st Union is brimming with potential. In due time, it could create the next Grand Theft Auto-tier franchise for 2K, or something even more progressive akin to the latest Mafia.
The most intriguing thing about this new studio is its holistic and progressive approach to making games. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, 31st Union's Head of Talent Brooke Grabrian said the studio will highlight voices that aren't heard often enough in the industry.
"We want to recruit and foster team members eager to speak their truths but also who show up authentically, take risks, and push past their limits in an environment supportive of independent thinking and creative freedom," she said. Grabrian also highlighted that 31st Union aims "to identify opportunities where they haven't traditionally existed for underrepresented voices and be a leader for the industry in working toward -- and ideally achieving -- these goals."
Condrey confirmed that 31st Union is working on an "ambitious and inspired new IP," and it's exciting to think about what they may create. While Mafia 3 had its faults like repetitive design elements, it showed 2K was interested in showcasing atypical protagonists and tackling political issues head-on. 31st Union's ethos shows that 2K is still willing to take those kinds of risks.
The scale of 31st Union's first game is eye-catching as well, with Head of Strategy Tyler Michaud boasting it is working on "a single new IP where passion is at the center of it all” which aims to be "global blockbuster with a passionate fan connection.” This ambition evokes other popular 2K-owned franchises like Grand Theft Auto or Borderlands, parent company Take-Two, who also owns Rockstar, would love to have another game like that in its portfolio.
It's great to see 2K show more personality, and it's an exciting trend for the publisher going forward. Flag 31st Union as a studio to watch in the coming months and years.