Mafia series developer Hangar 13 shared a letter to employees today that confirmed the leave of studio head Haden Blackman, a former LucasArts veteran who had been leading the group since its inception in 2014, but it’s not all bad news for fans of the action-adventure gangster franchise. Sources with Kotaku have revealed that despite the major change in leadership, Hanger 13 is hard at work on an all-new Mafia game, one that will serve as the fourth installment of the series but function as a prequel to the fan-favorite 2002 original from 2K Czech (now merged into Hangar 13). Mafia IV, assuming that’s what it’s called, is reportedly being developed on Unreal Engine 5 instead of Mafia III’s engine, which Hanger 13 also used for its recent remasters of the classic Mafia games.
What 2K didn’t mention in the email was that Matthew Urban, Hangar 13 chief operating officer, has also left the studio. “What an amazing ride at H13…….let’s see what is next,” he wrote on LinkedIn. These shifts come as Hangar 13 pivots from original projects back to established franchises like Mafia, the open world, third-person shooter series that’s often compared to Grand Theft Auto—except with a more mob-movie approach.
Replacing Blackman is Nick Baynes, currently studio head at Hangar 13’s Brighton, UK office, which Kotaku understands to be leading development on a new Mafia game. While the project is still early in development, its code name is Nero and it’s expected to be a prequel to the Mafia trilogy. The plan is to make it in Unreal Engine 5 instead of the Mafia III engine that was recently used for the remasters.