Legendary creator Shinji Mikami has one word for Microsoft shutting down the studio he founded: 'Sad'

 The Evil Within 2.
The Evil Within 2.

Shinji Mikami is one of the greatest developers that games have so far seen. He spent his early years at Capcom and, among many other games, created the Resident Evil series, returning to direct the standout Resident Evil 4, before becoming a key member of the legendary Clover Studio. He and others left Capcom to co-found PlatinumGames, with Mikami always of the mind that he would direct one major title at the company and help it get established, before leaving to set up on his own. Mikami directed the outstanding Vanquish, before founding Tango Gameworks later in the same year.

There's a thread running through Mikami's career of training up the next generation. Among his notable proteges over the years have been Hideki Kamiya, Shu Takumi, John Johanas, and Ikumi Nakamura. Mikami's goal with Tango Gameworks was to direct an initial title, The Evil Within, before moving to a supervisory role and letting the studio's younger talent take the reins (which in the case of The Evil Within 2 resulted in one of the best action-horror games ever made). Mikami left the studio in February 2023, two years after its parent company Zenimax was acquired by Microsoft Game Studios, and shortly after the surprise release of Hi-Fi Rush.

Yesterday Microsoft announced the brutal closure of four of its studios, among which was Tango Gameworks. Over its 14 years Tango developed The Evil Within and its sequel, Ghostwire: Tokyo, a mobile title for the Asian market called Hero Dice, and Hi-Fi Rush (which a Microsoft exec called "a break out hit for us"). One game every three years isn't bad going at this level, and Tango also made unusual games, the kind of thing that gets a load of 7 and 8/10s but some people will swear is the game of the year. The decision just seems baffling, an archetypal bean-counter moment, and it has committed the cardinal sin of disrespecting Shinji Mikami.

Barring a documentary a few years ago, Mikami tends to keep himself to himself, and this pronouncement isn't exactly verbose:

"Tango closed," said Mikami. "Sad."

There will always be that sadness about the story of Tango, because it doesn't feel like a studio that did anything particularly wrong, and had plenty left to give. It was a studio of talent and pedigree, a legacy from one of the greatest designers games have seen, and now all the people that made it what it was are scattered to the wind. On a selfish level, I'm gutted there will be no The Evil Within 3. But perhaps that one word does just sum it up from all angles: sad for Mikami; sad for Tango itself; sad for players; and a sad move by Microsoft.

Mikami doesn't tweet much, but perhaps this one from back in February can stand in tribute to the pen-pushers that decided to take Tango out behind the shed and shoot it: "There have always been stories of androids getting closer to humans, but now I feel that humans are getting closer to androids."