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Ex-Midway Newcastle employee reveals details of studio's closure

Employees worked until the end on new IP Necessary Force, to no avail

Former Midway Newcastle GUI artist Steven Pick has revealed the events leading up to his studio's closure in a personal blog entry.

The post details how the Wheelman team completed the Vin Diesel game, picked up by Ubisoft, under the shadow of a Chapter 11 filing against Midway before starting to work on new IP, Necessary Force - despite having being given 60 days notice of the possible closure of their studio.

Pitches continued to publishers and studios, said Pick, right up until the end. "One thing is for sure - the threat of losing your job is a strong motivator."

The studio's eventual demise however, which followed the sale of the company (minus its Newcastle and San Diego branches) to Warner Bros, caught Newcastle's employees "off-guard", said Pick.

"We had expected that the closure would be on Friday, and everyone was working to that point. A week after we were told of the failure of the 'big pitch', Tuesday July 14 would be a day I will never forget," Pick recalled.

"As lunch neared, our secretary noted on the security cameras that Matt Booty - the bigwig Midway CEO at the time - was outside the studio 'with a bunch of people'. The news filtered through the studio like wildfire accompanied by assorted reactions - mostly of the 'oh f***' variety."

The timing "couldn't have been more 'perfect'," he notes - "the day before payday" - with staff allegedly sent home with no pay for the month, redundancy or holiday compensation.

"Some of us asked why we were not getting paid when the London office was reportedly cash-rich. After all the work, the praise, the highs and lows of it all... it came down to this.

"It was heartbreaking seeing everyone slowly filter away from there... wondering what would become of us as individuals now that our team, which was such a solid and incredible machine, had been disassembled like a piece of flat-pack furniture."

With the demise of Midway Newcastle, the Newcastle Gateshead area lost a third of its games industry said Pick who finished by wishing his former colleagues well.

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Kath Brice