Working in the gaming industry at this moment in time is pretty anxiety-inducing, to say the least, as lay-offs are becoming more and more frequent, and it seems no one is safe. The proof is in the pudding, as many at the successful studio Mediatonic, the folks behind Fall Guys, have been laid off.
It was initially reported that the entire studio had been shuttered, but more recent reports are suggesting that while the studio was devastated by the news, remnants of the staff do remain.
Naturally, this has shocked the Mediatonic staff to their core, as there was reportedly no warning before this decision was made, which has led to this rather unfortunate anagram in the Mediatonic offices:
These layoffs make up a small portion of the total layoffs that have taken place at Epic Games in the last few days, as it is reported that the Publisher/Developer has let go of 16% of their total staff. This equates to roughly 830 members of staff, with an estimated 230+ further employees departing via divestitures.
While this decision will leave the studio understaffed for a period in certain departments, CEO Tom Sweeney remains quietly confident that most of their projects will remain on schedule, including Fortnite’s next chapter, which is reported: “Still on schedule.”
Here’s a direct quote from Epic’s CEO on recent events:
“Some of our products and initiatives will land on schedule, and some may not ship when planned because they are under-resourced for the time being…We’re ok with the schedule tradeoff if it means holding on to our ability to achieve our goals, get to the other side of profitability and become a leading metaverse company.”
The Rise And Fall Of Mediatonic
Mediatonic may seem like a pretty new company, but this indie dev turned AAA acquisition has been around since 2005, believe it or not. It was a studio mainly responsible for creating web browser games and mobile games in the era of slide-up and flip phones.
They would eventually pivot into PC and console game development, with their first project of note being a remake of the bizarre pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend, which they eventually followed up with the indie cult classic Murder By Numbers.
However, their magnum opus, and the game that would catch the eye of Epic Games, leading to their eventual acquisition, was Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.
This game found immediate success and a large player base through the decision to launch on day one as part of a PS Plus Monthly package, alongside Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered.
However, after this initial spike in players and attention, the game’s hold on the market quickly dwindled, and despite Epic’s decision to re-release this title as a free-to-play title, similar to what they did with the very successful Rocket League, Fall Guys would never quite recapture the magic of that initial period.
This is likely what has led to the decision to run a skeleton crew on this project, and while there are no immediate plans to cease work on Fall Guys, it seems very unlikely that Epic Games will be pouring further investment into this entity.
The Current Layoff Culture In The Industry
This news, while devastating for many within the industry, is hardly all that surprising when looking at the current gaming climate. We have seen a number of studios and companies decide to lay off staff, pull projects, and play things more cautiously to retain funds.
This news involving Epic Games comes on the same day that SEGA has decided to cancel production on HYENAS, the proposed live service FPS title from Creative Assembly. Plus, there seem to be rumblings on social media relating to potential layoffs at Ubisoft.
These are only the more recent layoffs, as this year has been punctuated with a series of high-profile layoffs. Unity decided to lay off 8% of their staff back in May, Microsoft decided to lay off around 10,000 employees back in January, with most of those who worked on Halo Infinite losing their jobs, EA let go of about 1,000 members of staff in March, and that only really scratches the surface of how many major cuts have been made this year in development.
It seems that the bubble has burst to some extent. Whether that be due to the stay-at-home culture of Covid returning to a status quo, or the push for live service titles within AAA companies finally coming back to bite them on the ass, we don’t know, but what we do know is that if you’re working in gaming, it would be a good idea to have an up-to-date CV.
More on Mediatonic, Epic Games, and industry layoffs as the situation develops; thanks for reading.
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