Layoffs are sucking the joy out of video games

The production pipeline for mainstream video games has always been exciting. The AAA factory is equipped with strict marketing plans and cycles soul-sucking crisisand while this process has resulted in incredible games over the years, it has also taken a toll on developers’ mental health and long-term job stability. Layoffs has been baked into the video game industry for a long time, but in recent months the trend has taken off at breakneck speed, and it’s happening at studios of all sizes.

This week’s stories

Kojima Movies

Hideo Kojima is collaborating with Sony to create a new game that actually looks more like a movie. Of course you can tell about it Any of the Kojima games since Snatcher, but this time he’s doing the Hollywood thing on purpose. It is a new project code named PHYSINT.and it’s a return to Kojima’s action espionage roots, but that’s for sure no Metal Gear. Apparently, it will blur the lines between movies and games and leverage Sony’s connections in movies and music. Kojima Productions will begin work on the new IP after it finishes Death Stranding 2It is expected to be released in 2025. Kojima is also building ODThe Xbox movie — sorry, the game — was made in collaboration with horror director Jordan Peele.

Xbox on other platforms

It looks like Xbox is preparing to release some of its exclusive games on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms. A several reports offering it spread this week Starfield, Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, Sea of ​​Thieves and Gears of War are all slated to come to PS5 or Switch in the near future. Xbox boss Phil Spencer neither confirmed nor denied the reports mocked an event next week should clarify the studio’s multiplatform plans.

Cuts in 2024

Both Sony and Microsoft released their first showcases of 2024, highlighting all the big, shiny games coming out soon. Hellblade 2, Surethe Silent Hill 2 remake and Star Blade. The trailers for these titles are as lively as ever, and the marketing pitches are breathless – but, man, it’s really hard to get excited about video games right now. Widespread layoffs have cast a shadow over the industry, and even if 2024 is a banner year for video game debuts, it still feels bad.

In the first month of 2024 about 6,000 people lost their jobs in the video game industry. That number is steadily rising and is based on layoffs in 2023, when about 10,500 video game jobs will be lost. I don’t want to mention these numbers without context – about 8,500 layoffs in 2022 and that’s taken into account terrible. 2023 surpassed that total, and in just six weeks, 2024 is on track to do the same.

Some statistics from January alone: ​​Riot Games laid off 530 people, or about 11 percent of its workforce, and closed its experimental publishing label. Devolver Digital has laid off 28 people on the Artificer team it bought in 2021. Dead in daylight studio Behavior Interactive lost 45 people. Sega of America laid off 61 employees. Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and Xbox cut nearly 2,000 jobs in the week Microsoft became a $3 trillion company. Unity plans to cut 1,800 jobs by March, on top of the 1,000 jobs the studio is cutting in 2023. Embracer Group put the team behind Little Tina’s Wonderland and Eidos laid off 97 people in Montreal, canceling its new Deus Ex game in the process. The holding company has cut about 1,000 jobs in 2023, and its restructuring efforts are expected to continue through March.

Recent layoffs have affected studios of all sizes, and that’s even as the industry’s leading companies grow financially. If it sounds like I’m repeating myself, that’s because — I reported on the layoff crisis late last year, and things only came into sharper focus in the first weeks of 2024. The video game industry will need attention and cash during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and today’s layoffs are a response to a period of unchecked growth and corporate consolidation.

All of this volatility creates a disturbing backdrop for the hype coming out of the video game industry this year. It’s hard to be impressed with the Xbox Sure It’s hard to enjoy the next frustrating showcase when we know people are losing their jobs in production and shrinking a studio that Devolver didn’t need to buy in the first place.

At the same time, we see how a union can protect the people who make video games. While dozens of people have lost their jobs at Sega of America this year, the studio’s AEGIS-CWA union has negotiated to keep some roles and offer layoffs to temporary workers. Unionization efforts have been on the rise since 2021, and the appeal of collective bargaining only becomes clearer when firing squads are targeted.

Bonus content

  • Futuristic action – RPG Star Blade It will be released on April 26 exclusively for PS5.

  • Diving Davea pixelated non-indie game nominated for some kind of Indie Game of the Year, Coming to PS4 and PS5 in April and Godzilla will get DLC in May.

  • Johanna Faries replaced Mike Ybarra in this position President of Blizzard. Ybarra stepped down during Microsoft’s layoffs in January, and Faries was previously head of Call of Duty under Activision.

Now playing

Now that I can actually talk about it, I want to say it Reload Persona 3 it’s absolutely delicious. The Morning After host Matt Smith wrote our reviewgo read it if you are helpless like us.

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