Having recently completed the development of Max Payne 3, Rockstar has announced that Rockstar Vancouver will be shuttered. Instead of the 35 person team being let go, they will all be offered the opportunity of either joining Rockstar Toronto or to take positions at other Rockstar (and Take-Two) studios. However, it's not all a walk in the park as families will have to be up rooted and moved over 2,600 miles to Oakville, though we hear that the Candian government does offer incentives to assist the moving process. To accommodate the large increase in staff, Rockstar Toronto will be moving into a large new, custom-built facility in Oakville, Ontario (just outside Toronto). The Toronto studio expansion is being financially supported by the Ontario government. The move and merge of the studios will happen over the next 6 months and will create 50 new job openings at Rockstar Toronto.
Rockstar Vancouver, originally founded in May of 1998 as Barking Dog Studios, worked on four games before being acquired by Rockstar in 2002. Games worked on before Rockstar include Counter-Strike, Global Operations and Treasure Planet. After being acquired, Vancouver was originally tasked with creating a Rockstar developed sequel to Take-Two's Spec Ops franchise due to their experience with Counter-Strike. However, the Spec Ops game was canceled and Vancouver became best known for creating Bully which released in 2006. Many fans had been hoping for a sequel to Bully but instead Vancouver was tasked with creating Max Payne 3 while Mad Doc Software (now Rockstar New England) and Toronto ported Bully to current-gen platforms in the form of Bully: Scholarship Edition. For most of Max Payne 3's development, Rockstar Vancouver was the head studio for the game. However, in the last few years other studios were brought in so the moniker Rockstar Studios ended up being used as opposed to it being called a Rockstar Vancouver production.
Rockstar Vancouver isn't the first studio to be closed in Vancouver. Recently, a number of studios such as Radical Entertainment, were shuttered due to the high costs associated with doing business in the British Columbia province of Canada. A number of BC citizens have actually partnered together to create the We Can Do It campaign in an attempt to get the government to do something about the gaming industry leaving the area.
Fans of Bully shouldn't worry however, as Rockstar's Dan Houser has expressed interest in creating a sequel. What better than the newly expanded Rockstar Toronto, combined with staff from Vancouver, to take up the helm of doing so?