While some companies have weathered these layoffs better than others, several lost everything. Vanpool (Dillon’s Rolling Western), PixelOpus (Concrete Genie), and Volition (Saints Row) all closed their doors in 2023. Volition’s complete-company layoff hit gamers probably the hardest because while the game’s latest entry, the Saints Row reboot, failed to impress critics, the studio was still widely loved. Many gamers hoped that, much like CD Projekt RED and Cyberpunk 2077, Volition could turn Saints Row around with a few patches. Now that the studio is no more, that is no longer a possibility.

Shortly before the bombshell announcement that was Naughty Dog’s layoffs, gamers had been hit with possibly the biggest surprise layoff announcement of 2023: Epic Games had laid off 830 employees, approximately 16% of its workforce. This news came as quite a shock given that Epic Games essentially prints money thanks to its popular Unreal Engine and the ever-popular Fortnite. However, according to CNN’s report, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney stated that the company was “spending way more money than we earn.” That explanation sent a clear and haunting message to many. If Epic’s revenue and success weren’t enough to prevent the company from turning to mass layoffs, then who can feel truly safe?

However, no organization epitomizes that more than Ubisoft, as the company has been laying off employees in waves throughout 2023. For instance, in May, 60 members of the customer service department were laid off without warning, and a handful of community and production employees were laid off at the end of September. Even though all of these layoffs affect different sections of each company, many have one thing in common: They were done for the sake of “cost-cutting” and “downsizing”

According to Kotaku’s sources, Naughty Dog’s art, production, and quality assurance divisions were impacted, but most, if not all, of the laid-off employees didn’t work at the studio full-time. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s report cited an email that stated 343 laid off staff to “restructure elements” of the company. As previously stated, many Epic Games positions were culled because the company was spending more money than it was making. Even Volition’s closure was a cost-cutting measure, albeit one meant to benefit Embracer Group through a “comprehensive restructuring program.” The shuttering of PixelOpus, meanwhile, was more of a downsizing decision than a cost-cutting one. According to a statement that Engadget obtained, PlayStation Studios evaluated its portfolio and studio projects to make sure they “meet the organization’s short and long-term strategic objectives.”

One of the industry’s only layoffs that allegedly had nothing to do with downsizing or cost-cutting came from Daedalic Entertainment. The company’s most recent game, Lord of the Rings: Gollum, was so poorly received that Daedalic Entertainment fired 25 employees and halted all game development projects.

If we take the reports at face value, they point to one likely conclusion: the video game industry, as it currently stands, is too big to maintain. Going by the reasons behind many of the layoffs, many AAA companies are either overcrowded or overspending. Perhaps that’s due to rising costs, poor money management, or maybe the paychecks of their CEOs are just too big. And even if a company is more conservative with its hiring numbers and budgets, it could be part of a larger organization that is guilty of hiring or spending too much.

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