Rocksteady Studios will soon lose its co-founders and studio heads, Jamie Walker and Sefton Hill. According to an announcement from WB Games president David Haddad, both men are leaving the company in 2023.
"We are very proud to have worked alongside Jamie and Sefton, who have led their talented teams to create some of the best games in the world," wrote Haddad. "With Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League nearly finished, they have both decided to leave Rocksteady at the end of 2022 and will begin a new adventure in gaming."
Based in London and founded in 2004, Rocksteady came into fame with the Batman: Arkham franchise. Hill served as the creative director of Suicide Squad and each mainline Arkham game, along with the Batman: Arkham VR spinoff.
"From the day we founded the company in 2004 all the way to today, Rocksteady has been our life and soul," wrote Walker and Hill in a joint statement. "We are so proud of the team here for the games we have all made together, from our first game Urban Chaos, to the much-loved Arkham series, and now the epic Suicide Squad."
Taking over as studio director will be Nathan Burlow, previously Rocksteady's production member and one of its first employees. Darius Sadeghian, who joined the developer in 2015, will serve as studio product director.
What does Rocksteady's departures mean for its studio culture?
During Walker and Hill's time at Rocksteady, allegations of misconduct were leveled against the developer.
The allegations (originally from 2018, but revealed in 2020) saw 10 of the staff's 16 total women write a letter accusing management of failing to take seriously complaints of transphobia and various kinds of sexual harassment from male coworkers. Several of the women who wrote that letter have since left the developer.
At the time, Rocksteady responded by stating it investigated the complaints and that they were "addressed appropriately."
"We are dedicated to listening and improving, and have employed specialists to help further enhance equity and representation at Rocksteady," wrote Rocksteady in 2020.
But one of the women behind the original allegations, senior writer Kim MacAskill, argued that the culture at the studio has remained the same since she left.
Earlier this year, MacAskill turned down a lifetime achievement award from Women in Games, which had Rocksteady and WB Games as its sponsors. She further alleged that following an investigation from Rocksteady, she was offered money and to put her name back in the credits of Suicide Squad, both of which she turned down.
"To Warner and Rocksteady: Stop enabling bad behavior," she wrote on Twitter. "You can throw your name on every diversity event going but unless you take accountability it means nothing and I see you."
"To take an award connected to them would be an unspoken acceptance of what they did."
Warner Bros. Games then released a statement in response to the prior sexual harassment allegations, stating "investigations found there was no evidence substantiating the allegations of this former employee who resigned in 2019. [...] A Warner Bros. Discovery (then Warner Media) People Relations team, independent of the games division, diligently researched and investigated any allegations raised."
"These two separate investigations both confidently arrived at the same conclusion, that all issues raised with HR and the management of Rocksteady Studios were handled appropriately and sensitively."
Unfortunately, I'm bowing out from the lifetime achievement nomination for @wigj (women in games). I don't need sympathy or hatred but simply understanding. I'm so sorry to those that voted.. @warnerbros - take accountability. @RocksteadyGames , you can't sweep mistakes. pic.twitter.com/XIYoruQ0uZ— Kim MacAskill (@kimmacaskill1) September 18, 2022