Fate of Square Enix's Project Prelude Rune uncertain as Studio Istolia webpage and Twitter account are taken down [Update]
Update (May 14)
Square Enix has confirmed to USGamer that Studio Istolia is no longer in operation and Project Prelude Rune is canceled.
"Following evaluation of various aspects of Project Prelude Rune, development of the title has been canceled," a spokesperson told USgamer. "Studio Istolia is no longer in operation and we have been taking appropriate steps to assign studio staff to other projects within the Square Enix Group."
When Hideo Baba resigned from Studio Istolia and Square Enix a few months ago, it put some uncertainty to the state of the studio as well as Project Prelude Rune, a new RPG they had been working on. Although Baba had "given way to junior staff" in his statement of resignation, Square Enix has yet to give any official statement of their own regarding the studio after his departure. But today's discoveries might put the future of both the RPG project and Istolia itself into question.
Studio Istolia's own Twitter account has ceased to exist, and attempting to access their official website at http://studioistolia.com will now automatically redirect to the home page of the Square Enix Holdings website. Although Studio Istolia itself is currently still listed under the Group Companies page, the corporate website link for it has been removed. Even the teaser trailer for Project Prelude Rune has been removed from Square Enix's official Youtube channel, which we linked to during its reveal last September.
It's hard not to be reminded of the shakeup that happened with Luminous Productions of Final Fantasy XV fame, where Hajime Tabata also ended up leaving both the studio and the company, along with all the planned DLC episodes for FFXV past Episode Ardyn getting scrapped. Square Enix also noted that reviewing the business strategy for Luminous has resulted in an extraordinary loss of 3,733 million yen or approximately US$ 33 million.
However, Luminous Productions still has its official website intact as of now as it is trying to recruit new staff, so the disappearances of Studio Istolia's public pages and Project Prelude Rune's official trailers cast an even more ominous cloud over their fate. We will update on the status of Project Prelude Rune and Studio Istolia if more details are made official, or if any of the scrubbed information resurfaces.