Tag Archives: layoffs

Nintendo consolidates, lays off 130

Nintendo in a statement to Eurogamer:

The measures include the consolidation of the current European headquarters in Großostheim (Germany) to Frankfurt (Germany), the closure of the warehouse and office in Großostheim, as well as outsourcing and reorganising some functions.

My thoughts to those out of work.

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Harmonix lays off 37

Harmonix spokesperson to Polygon:

Harmonix is in the process of restructuring our organization to bring it into alignment with our current and future product development plans. Unfortunately, this means making the difficult decision to reduce the number of full-time staff. We sincerely appreciate the work of each and every one of these employees. Harmonix is working to ensure that those affected are well taken care of as we make this change.

The spokesperson also offered that these layoffs are unrelated to the unbundling the Kinect. My thoughts to those affected.

Layoff list updated.

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Dungeon Defenders studio lays off 20%, shift in company culture

Comments from Darrell Rodriguez, CEO of Trendy Entertainment, as they appear on GamesIndustry International:

Currently, we are not profitable, but we have products in the pipeline to get us there. We are in between launches, so our cash flow is a concern. We are taking the necessary steps to fix this to ensure Dungeon Defenders II gets out the door at the great quality people have come to expect. We’re at a critical time where execution and performance is essential to our ongoing success.

We are doing this very unpleasant action with respect, empathy and compassion in consideration of the great work that these people have contributed to Trendy.

As discussed last time, a lot of the culture had already shifted upon my arrival. I’m working closely with devs and leads to create more openness and better communication at all levels of the company. Cultural change does not happen overnight, but we have ongoing efforts to work on better cross-departmental communication, getting the leads directly involved in product planning and holding consistent company wide meetings to ensure we are all on the same page. There’s a long way to go, but we’re on our way

Rodriguez’s statements on culture change are well met. Healthy company culture is key and appears to be a hot topic in light of the layoff crisis plaguing development studios as of late. My thoughts to those affected. Layoff list updated.

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Layoffs hit Rare

Wesley Yin-Poole, Eurogamer:

While Microsoft did not confirm how many people had been let go, Eurogamer understands the number is around 16, a figure one source said was made up of some software staff, but mainly design and project managers. Kinect Sports Rivals was a 150 person project.

A Microsoft spokesperson issued Eurogamer the following statement:

At Xbox, our goal is to constantly create new fun, social and interactive entertainment experiences. As part of Rare’s commitment to this goal, we have made a decision to change our development process and methodology at Rare to best support our future projects, this has led to us reviewing the skills and the makeup of our development teams in our business.

Rare continues to invest in our people and future projects.

This news comes on the heels of Rare re-evaluating their direction after Microsoft’s decision to offer Kinect-less Xbox One units. My thoughts to those let go. Layoffs list updated.

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Save developers and you will save your soul

  • 130 layoffs, Nintendo (Eurogamer, 6/6/14)
  • 37 layoffs, Harmonix (Polygon, 5/29/14)
  • 20% of staff across development and marketing, Trendy Entertainment (GamesIndustry International, 5/21/14)
  • 16 layoffs, Rare (IGN, 5/19/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, PopCap (Polygon, 3/13/14)
  • 700 layoffs, Disney Interactive (Joystiq, 3/6/14)
  • 27 layoffs, Eidos (Joystiq, 3/4/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, Sony Santa Monica (Joystiq, 2/27/14)
  • 70 layoffs, Irrational Games (Joystiq, 2/18/14)
  • 12 layoffs, Eutechnyx (Joystiq, 2/18/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, Ghost Games (Joystiq, 2/1/14)
  • [undisclosed] layoffs, EA Salt Lake (Joystiq, 1/30/14)
  • 3423+ industry layoffs from 1/7/13 – 10/29/13 (GameJobWatch.com)

In a discussion on IGN’s Game Scoop!. the Daemon Hatfield, Greg Miller, Justin Davis, and Brian Altano discussed the Sony Santa Monica layoffs and the ongoing (and seemingly permanent) “ramp up / layoff” structure of AAA studios. During this discussion, the panel made comments around the need for the video game industry to unionize and operate in similar fashion to the film industry:

Daemon Hatfield: “I wonder if the video game industry should be more like the movie industry. You have a crew that works on a movie and when the movie is done, they go on to their next project. They are not full-time employees.”

Greg MIller: “Do you think as far as unionizing?”

DH, Justin Davis, and Brian Altano confirm and agree.

DH: “You have a director that runs a movie, he brings on his crew, they make the game…”

JD: “You assemble a “dream team” for each project. A director has certain DPs and other key positions [and] likes to collaborate with the same people over and over. Presumably all of those people that are one step down also have people they like and they bring their whole crew with them. You get the one guy and then you get his crew.”

GM: “I guess that kind of already happens right?”

BA: “Sort of.”

JD: “It happens a little bit but the issue is that it disrupts people’s insurance and things like that. If there was a union, the equivalent of a SAG card or something, you could just move from project to project. In my opinion (and I haven’t done a tremendous amount of reach on this), but on the surface it seems like something that would be healthy for this business.”

While, many devs may benefit from negotiated salaries, working conditions, hours, and insurance coverage, further research into unions does not seem to offer a terrible amount of protection from layoffs. Nor does it appear that the film industry works this way.

According to Lawyers.com, how a union benefits an employee during a layoff is largely dependent on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In short, layoffs of union employees are usually handled on a measure of seniority. The source also goes on to mention the benefits of The Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act (WARN):

Generally, WARN requires employers with 100 or more workers to give you 60 days’ advance notice of some closings and “mass layoffs.” A closing can mean the shut-down of a plant or facility. “Mass layoff” has very specific meanings, but basically it means that a substantial number of workers are being laid off for more than six months. –Lawyers.com

Systems such as WARN would appear to be very valuable for developers in the wake of the seemingly immediate purge of Irrational and Sony Santa Monica employees.

There is a looming fear that if the industry continues at this pace, great artists, programmers, engineers, writers, and the like will be swayed away from from the games industry, potentially diminishing the quality of games released. There is no doubt in my mind that the allure of working on a video game will continue to attract skilled creatives; however, lengthy tenure is sure to wane.

Some will argue that AAA isn’t for everyone and indie development is on the rise. While I agree, many of the skills possessed by indie devs were likely gained from experience at larger studios.

I have never been a developer, part of union, or involved in the film industry. I would appreciate any and all correction of the above information from those with experience.

Should video game developers unionize? Does the film industry actually work in this manner? Does a union offer more protection from layoffs than mentioned above? What is your solution to the state of video game development? Are things fine the way they are?

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