Within the last few years, video game industry layoffs have unfortunately become more commonplace. In 2023, we saw near-weekly layoffs across the entire industry. When the dust had settled, at least 6,000 jobs across publishers, developers, and other video game-related companies had happened. Sadly, it appears 2024 will outpace that, if the first few weeks of the year are any indication.
Most folks didn’t expect 2024 to be much better, but I’m not sure anyone was ready for it to be possibly worse—yet this year has kicked off with a string of big and small layoffs signaling that the corporate bloodletting rituals aren’t ending anytime soon. So Kotaku is going to try and track all of 2024’s layoffs as they happen. Hopefully, we don’t have to update this post that much.
Archiact – Unknown
On January 4, 2024, the first round of video game layoffs (that we know of) happened at VR games developer Archiact. The company, known for its Doom 3 VR port, announced on social media that it had laid off an unspecified number of staff.
“We are working with these individuals to offset this difficult transition as much as possible, including through reverse recruiting,” said the studio in its announcement post.
Bossa Studios – 19 people
This technically happened in late 2023, but was reported and confirmed on January 5, 2024. According to Gameindustry.biz, 19 people were cut from the studio. The layoffs were mostly QA and production roles as well as some non-UK employees.
Unity Software – 1,800 people
On January 8, 2024, Reuters reported the first truly massive round of layoffs for the year as Unity confirmed that it planned to cut nearly 25% of its staff as part of a continued “reset” at the company. This is reportedly the largest round of layoffs in the software company’s history and it will be completed by the end of March.
Twitch – 500 people
On January 9, 2024, Bloomberg reported that Twitch was preparing to lay off 500 employees by the end of January. This is about 35% of its total staff. The Amazon-owned video game streaming website previously laid off hundreds of employees last year in March and later in October.
Playtika – 300-400 people
As reported by CTech on January 11, 2024, mobile game publisher and developer Playtika plans to lay off up to 400 employees, or about 10% of the company’s total workforce. Playtika previously laid off 900 employees in 2022. In 2023, the company agreed to pay up to $300 million to acquire Innplay Labs, another mobile developer.
Discord – 170 people
The Verge reported on January 11, 2024 that popular video game chat software developer Discord was planning to lay off around 17% of the company’s total staff. The layoffs were announced in an all-hands meeting and an internal memo obtained by The Verge. CEO Jason Citron explained in the memo that the company had grown “quickly” since 2020 and took on too many projects.
“Today, we are increasingly clear on the need to sharpen our focus and improve the way we work together to bring more agility to our organization,” Citron told employees in the memo. “This is what largely drove the decision to reduce the size of our workforce.”
Lost Boys Interactive – 125 people
On January 12, Aftermath reported that some employees at Gearbox-owned developer Lost Boys Interactive had been laid off. A Washington State WARN Act notice seems to indicate that 125 people were affected.
“It seems a sizable portion of Lost Boys Interactive was laid off today, including myself,” wrote Jared Pace, a producer at the studio, on Linkedin. Pace reportedly told Aftermath that layoffs “affected all disciplines at all levels.”
Funselektor – 3 people
The Canadian indie studio behind Art of Rally announced on January 12 that three developers had been laid off.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had to make some positions redundant at Funselektor,” tweeted the studio’s founder Dune Casu. “We’d like to help them in their employment hunt in the video game sector, so we recommend these awesome Australians: @AdrianGenerator, @PezzleSp, @h4ypal.”
PTW (formerly Pole To Win) – 45 people
PTW (previously known as Pole To Win)—a quality assurance, localization, and support studio that has worked with companies like Blizzard and Capcom—was hit with layoffs on January 11. A person with knowledge of the situation told Kotaku that about 45 people lost their jobs. The layoffs were mostly QA staffers who live outside the United States, but other departments lost people, too.
At least two people who Kotaku was told were laid off have since posted on LinkedIn that they are no longer working for PTW as a result of the layoffs.
A spokesperson provided Kotaku with this statement:
“PTW made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce in several countries where we operate, This decision was not made lightly – our company’s core offerings stem from the people who enable us to deliver world-class products and services. We want to thank our departing team members for the time and effort they put into the company.”
Thunderful – 20% of staff (Around 100 people)
On January 17, as reported by GamesIndustry, Thunderful Group announced plans to “restructure” the company in order to cut costs. These plans include laying off 20% of the company’s workforce.
CEO Martin Walfisz commented that the layoffs are part of a move to “strengthen the viability” of the company and that there is “no alternative.”
“It has been difficult to make these decisions,” Walfisz said. “And it saddens me that we will have to say goodbye to many skilled colleagues and partners. Nevertheless, I am convinced that this is a necessary direction for Thunderful and that these changes will make the company a stronger player in the market.”
Pixelberry Studios – Unknown
Nexon-owned mobile game developer Pixelberry Studios has cut an unknown number of employees. The news was first reported by Gamedeveloper on January 17. Employees have posted publicly on LinkedIn confirming the layoffs.
“I found out I’m going to be laid off along with a lot of great people at Pixelberry,” said associate engineering manager Paige Lowe on LinkedIn.
Kotaku has contacted Pixelberry Studios and Nexon for comment.
Netspeak Games – 25 people
On January 16, Netspeak Games—the studio behind the upcoming cozy-life sim Sunshine Days—confirmed that it was laying off 25 people. The news of cuts came in a blog post from Netspeak CEO Callum Cooper-Brighting.
The CEO said it “has not been easy” to let staff go, but added: “However, it’s important for us to be able to adapt our structure to ensure we can efficiently navigate through the increasingly challenging landscape of the current gaming industry.”
In the blog post, Cooper-Brighting said that in today’s industry “new IP is just a huge risk” and it’s trickier than ever to get investors on board. As spotted by Gamedeveloper, the CEO added in a LinkedIn post that Netspeak “tried everything under the sun” to avoid these layoffs.
Wimo Games – 35 people
Employees at Austin, Texas-based Wimo Games, a game developer and publisher focused primarily on virtual reality titles, have confirmed online that the company closed its doors on January 17. Wimo Games was founded in 2021.
Kotaku spoke to Walter Hill, an associate software engineer at Wimo Games, who confirmed that 35 people were employed at the studio when it shut its doors on Wednesday.
Behaviour Interactive – 45 people
Kotaku has learned that Dead By Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive laid off around 45 people between January 9-11.
Individuals with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Kotaku that the layoffs only affected employees at Behaviour Interactive’s Montreal studio. Kotaku was told layoffs had started in December.
This latest round of cuts included staff across different departments. At least one person has publicly posted about the layoffs on LinkedIn.
On January 18, Behaviour Interactive confirmed to Kotaku that layoffs happened and sent over this statement:
Recently, changing market conditions necessitated adjusting the scope of several Behaviour projects. In these situations, our preference is always to reassign talent to other projects. Unfortunately, this option is not always available to us. These departures represented less than 3% of our total workforce.
CI Games – 10% of staff (Likely 15-20)
CI Games has laid off employees as first reported by Gameindustry.biz on January 18. Sources told the outlet that Lords of the Fallen developer Hexworks and Sniper Ghost Warrior developer Underdog had also been affected.
CI Games CEO Marek Tymiński provided Gameindustry.biz with the following statement, confirming the layoffs:
To preserve business strength and stability, CI Games has made the tough but necessary decision to implement a targeted round of redundancies, affecting approximately 10% of employees across the company.
We would like to thank each of them for the part they’ve played during their time with us. Further business optimizations are being made to the organization’s pipelines and processes.
31st Union – less than 10
On January 18, a small number of employees at 2K-owned studio 31st Union were cut according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The company—with studios in California and Spain—has yet to ship a debut game and was founded in 2019. It is led by Michael Condrey who previously helped create the Dead Space series at EA and later co-founded the Activision studio Sledgehammer Games in 2009.
A 2K Games spokesperson confirmed the layoffs had happened at the studio, telling Kotaku the total number of affected workers was “less than 10″ and provided this statement:
As part of our on-going efforts to best support our studio and games, today 31st Union parted ways with a very small number of team members. These situations are never easy, but we’re confident in the trajectory of 31st Union. The studio is continuing to actively recruit for key roles and to grow in other ways in the year ahead.
As of January 18, 2024, at least 3,197 people have been (or will be) laid off this year.
The video game industry is bigger and makes more money than movies and music combined, bringing in $180 billion in 2021 alone. It’s also an industry that becomes riskier and more expensive each year as AAA games take longer and cost more to make, leading to a situation where even a single flop can sink a studio or publisher. And the whole industry is also in desperate need of unions to help protect its millions of workers when things don’t work out as planned.
Until then, corporate greed, industry consolidation, and poor leadership will likely continue to cost thousands of people their jobs as we’ve seen at Twitch and Unity.
Credit : Source Post