Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Notable Video Game Industry Layoffs - 1-13 February 2024

Compared to January, layoffs in the video game industry are very low. Looking at the list compiled at, however, are still piling up, just among indie developers. Before the list grows too much longer, I thought I'd go ahead and note four that stood out to me.

Perhaps the biggest story is the news concerning Prytania Media. According to Game Developer, an unspecified number of layoffs will hit the its writing, design, and engineering teams of Crop Circle Games. Another Prytania Media company, Game Science, laid off its entire staff according to a post on LinkedIn

The layoffs are notable because of one of the founders of Prytania Media, Jeff Strain. Strain was a co-founder of ArenaNet and founded Undead Labs. While at ArenaNet, Strain was the executive producer of Guild Wars.

Strain also emerged as a strong advocate for unions in the video game industry. In July 2021 Strain wrote an open letter following the news of the Activision-Blizzard lawsuits:

I’m an entrepreneur, and a veteran of three successful independent studio start ups. I’m highly familiar with the financial, legal, contractual, and organizational aspects of game development. I also know that I have nothing to fear from unionization, nor does any company that pays employees fairly and equitably, provides quality health insurance, models respect and civility for female, POC, LGBTQ+ employees, and supports a healthy, whole life. It seems simple, but we clearly need help with it. The giants of this industry have shown us this week that we cannot trust them to moderate and manage the wealth and power that players and fans have given them.

I welcome my employees to unionize, and I’m giving my full endorsement and support to an industry wide adoption of unions. I also encourage the leadership of game-industry companies, large and small, corporate and independent, to join me in endorsing and advocating for unionization as a concrete, actionable step toward improving our industry. As a studio owner, I’ll roll up my sleeves and work with union organizers in a spirit of collaboration. I greatly look forward to the day when the joy and love for what we create for our players is reflected in our workplaces for all employees.

The largest announced layoff so far in February occurred on 7 February at Hidden Path Entertainment. The Bellevue, Washington-based company laid off 44 employees. Those laid off included "several project leads, an HR director, and multiple artists, programmers, and designers." Geek Wire provided a brief history of the studio.

Hidden Path was founded in 2006. It’s known for tower defense series Defense Grid and VR games Brass Tactics and Witchblood. Hidden Path also collaborated with Microsoft to release an updated edition of Age of Empires II in 2013, and contributed to the development of its neighbor Valve Software’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Left 4 Dead 2.

In 2022, Wizards of the Coast announced that it had partnered with Hidden Path, among several other internal and external studios, to make a new Dungeons & Dragons game. Wizards subsequently canceled production on many of its video game projects in early 2023, which was initially said to include whatever was underway at Hidden Path.

Later reports contradicted that, however, and at time of writing, Hidden Path’s website still lists its D&D game as being in development.

One bit of surprising news was the announcement on 7 February that 91Act, headquartered in Chengdu, China, had laid off all its employees.  The studio's latest game, BlazBlue Entropy Effect, released on Steam on 30 January and at the time of this writing was very positively rated, receiving 89% positive reviews. But sales were not robust enough to solve the company's financial difficulties. According to Game Look, founder Jiang Lei mortgaged his home in order to provide severance payments to his employees. According to, 91Act had approximately 15 employees.

Finally, Cloud Imperium Games found itself on the list of companies laying off employees. A post on LinkedIn by Dane Kubicka indicated he was a victim of restructuring.

From what I can tell, Kubicka worked in the Austin studio. CIG purchased a studio in Quebec, Turbulent, last year in part due to lower labor costs than in the United States. He joined CIG in July 2021 as a Live QA Specialist before moving on to become a Level Designer in September 2022. According to his LinkedIn profile, he only worked on the Persistent Universe and not Squadron 42. And as part of my checking for this section of the post, I found an episode of Inside Star Citizen in which Kubicka appeared. had no number of employees laid off at CIG.

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