Boy, just in case anyone was wondering if a career in game design and “job security” could fit in to the same sentence, the answer is no. In addition to the tragic demise of LucasArts at the hands of parent company Disney (I’ll miss you, Star Wars 1313), word has also reached Polygon about some “corporate restructuring” going on at the Square Enix Los Angeles office. And that’s not all.
Square Enix senior director of public relations Reilly Brennan told Polygon in a statement that, “We can confirm that Square Enix’s Los Angeles office has eliminated a number of positions as part of the corporate restructuring announced last week.”
While this news is certainly upsetting, seeing so many folks in the industry losing their jobs, it is not entirely unexpected. Recent comments made by new Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda, who succeeds the position after Yoicha Wada’s resignation coincided with the company’s announcement they would be incurring an “extraordinary loss” for the quarter, suggested his plans to review the entirety of Square Enix and “cast all of our researches towards extending what makes us successful and thoroughly squeezing out what doesn’t.” Apparently, whatever was going on at Square Enix LA was not considered successfully productive. While Square Enix has yet to comment on the number or extensiveness of the layoffs, it’s been reported the downsizing has reached “top to bottom”. They did however, mention that they are at least offering assistance and severance packages to any affected members being let go, for what little consolation that offers.
In other publisher news, Activision has also confirmed to Joystiq that a great number of the High Moon Studios team, currently responsible for the Deadpool game, has been let go. The Activision spokesperson released this statement saying, “With the completion of development on Deadpool, we are taking a reduction in staff at High Moon Studios to better align our development talent against our slate. Approximately, 40 full-time employees will be impacted globally. We are offering those employees who are impacted outplacement counseling services.”
Yeah, you read that right. The incredible dev team responsible for revitalizing the Transformers franchise with their incredible Cybertron series just lost 40 full-time employees. Being the silver-lining optimist that I am, I guess the one good takeaway here is that Activision just confirmed the Deadpool game has finished the development cycle; so at least fans of the Merc with a Mouth can rest assured the quality of the game won’t be impacted by the layoffs. Of course, if the game flops it also means Activision can’t use the layoffs as an excuse for the hypothetical poor quality of the game, so just remember this article in case they decide to try and shift blame.
It’s troubling to see all of these massive layoffs due to corporate restructuring all happening simultaneously. Developers and publishers alike are finding it harder and harder to recoup their initial investments on the gigantic AAA properties they’re so keen on producing, and smaller studios seem to be paying the price. All the more reason to make sure our favorite voice actors keep their jobs, rather than having Hollywood actors come in and do the job for more money. (Shameless plug, I know. Deal with it.) I was actually discussing Square Enix in particular with a few friends yesterday, and came to the conclusion that Square Enix seems to be a better publisher than they are a developer. In terms of recent games, I’d much prefer Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Human Revolution over any of this generation’s Final Fantasy titles. I’m not saying Square Enix should stop developing games completely, but if they can’t find a way to make the eye-poppingly beautiful, graphical marvels they love showing off at E3 financially profitable, perhaps they should stick to simply publishing. Or focusing less on making Final Fantasy look so damn pretty, and more on making sure it’s a fun game that fans will recommend to friends, either way works.
What do you folks think about all the layoffs and studio closings we’ve seen this year? Are there any studios, besides the obvious loss of LucasArts, you’re heartbroken over? Share your thoughts in the comments below.