While many had hoped that 2014 would be an upward trending year in terms of game and console sales, for every positive piece of news (PS4 and Xbox One sales numbers) there seems to be some bad. Earlier this year we brought word that BioShock developer Irrational Games was paring down its outfit and laying off most of its staff, and now comes word that another big studio has let some employees go.
Earlier today, news broke that Eidos Montreal, the developer behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution and, more recently, the Thief reboot, had laid off a significant portion of its staff. Thief publisher Square Enix then confirmed the news, saying that 27 employees had been let go.
With Thief debuting to a middling reception from critics and fans, the obvious go-to assumption for these layoffs is that they are a direct response to those reviews. But, as Square Enix points out in their official statement, layoffs are common after shipping any release. Developers bring on new talent in the months before going gold, and then, without much to do post-release aside from bug fixes and DLC, they typically let some staff go. Still, anytime someone loses his or her job, regardless of form or tradition, it’s tough.
Yes it is true we’ve let 27 people go today, unfortunately it’s something that every major studio has to do sometimes in order to ensure you have the right set up for current and future projects. It’s never a nice thing to do but we are genuinely trying to offer as much support as much as we can. We’re trying to re-locate as many people as possible into other roles here or at our other studios and we’ve been in touch several studios in Montreal to arrange a career day for those affected by this. We’re very thankful for all their hard work and we sincerely wish them well.
That being said, Eidos Montreal claims they will do their best to find homes for the recently displaced developers, either on a new project within the company like the follow-up to Deus Ex: HR or some unannounced project. There are also several job listing spreadsheets circulating the Internet for these folks to take a look. The game development industry has time and time again rallied behind their fellow developers and done their best to help folks find new jobs. It’s what makes the industry so great, even if there is an ugly side to it.
The fact of the matter is expectations are exceedingly high when it comes to sales success, and most games that fail to generate positive buzz and review scores end up falling into the “failure” category. Previous Square Enix releases like Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider, for example, were deemed failures in certain respects, and those games actually had positive word of mouth and decent sales. But breaking even isn’t as easy as it once was, especially considering the amount of time, money, and effort that goes into making a triple-A release these days. Thief, for example, had been in development for almost five years and had gone through plenty of changes over that time.
Again, our hearts go out to those who were laid off.
Even though reviews have been so-so, do you still want to see more from the Thief universe?