Room for another mass layoff post, before we end the day? This one is actually two separate stories but in a bid to conserve resources and make our frontpage slightly less depressing to read, I am going to roll them together. Black Forest Games, the Embracer-owned creators of the Destroy All Humans! Remake, are reportedly cutting 50% of their workforce – around 50-60 people. Outriders developers People Can Fly, meanwhile, have laid off 30 developers who were working on an unannounced Square Enix game.
Both of those reports are from Kotaku, which has decided to put all this year’s layoffs on a single feed – a truly grisly cousin of our own The Maw. According to one of the site’s sources, Black Forest Games announced the job losses to staff yesterday. It’s not clear who exactly is leaving, but the studio’s creative directors and most “if not all” of its managers are expected to survive the cuts, with more details following next week. Embracer acquired Black Forest by way of operating group THQ Nordic in 2017. The studio are currently working on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin.
The cuts presumably form part of Embracer’s on-going “restructuring” from last year, as the Swedish conglomerate strive to reduce their debts after a seemingly endless run of studio acquisitions over the past few years. Embracer are also reportedly taking the axe to ELEX and Gothic developers Piranha Bytes, though Piranha have valiantly asked fans not to “write us off” just yet.
As for People Can Fly, Kotaku has gotten hold of an internal email from development director Adam Alker in which he says that cuts are necessary due to budget limitations and the shrinking scope of the aforesaid Square Enix game, Project Gemini, which will now be shorter than planned with a smaller roster of enemies. Apart from the 30 people who are being laid off, 20 other members of the Gemini team have reportedly been relocated to other projects within the studio.
“To those individuals transitioning out of the studio due to these changes, we extend our sincere appreciation for the skills and expertise you brought to the team,” Alker wrote in the leaked mail. “We will keep our fingers crossed for your next steps in game dev and offer all our support.” I hope “all our support” comes with decent severance.
People Can Fly’s other projects include – or at least, have included – Project Maverick, announced last June and funded by Microsoft to the tune of $30-50 million. According to leaked emails, Microsoft have just laid off about 1900 people across Xbox and Activision-Blizzard in the name of growth, shortly after becoming a three trillion dollar company. I would not be wholly surprised if the cost-cutting there extended to third-party creations like the People Can Fly game, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Project Maverick – and for game developers in general below C-suite level. According to this unofficial archive, there have already been about half as many games industry layoffs in 2024 as there were in 2023. Best of luck to everybody affected.