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 been terminated. 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.
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.
The CEO of Wimo Games, Dave Rosen, confirmed the news and provided Kotaku with this statement about the closure:
“We’re immensely proud of our work on RPG Dice: Heroes of Whitestone, Battle Bows, and most recently, Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem. We’re grateful to each and every player who bought the games our team poured so much of their hard work into.
Our passionate and incredibly talented team members will be looking for new jobs and were provided severance to assist in the transition. If you have roles available, or if you’ve spotted any openings, please contact WIMO through LinkedIn or those individuals directly. We appreciate our players and the many organizations who have collaborated with us so much.”
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.
Com2uS – ‘a two-digit number of people’
On January 18, Korea JoongAng Daily reported that Com2uS—a South Korean mobile and online game company established in 1998—was laying off “a two-digit number of employees.” A company spokesperson provided the following statement to the outlet:
“We came to this difficult conclusion as we decided to optimize some of our projects considering recent market and management conditions.”
Com2uS’s most popular game is Summoner’s War, an online mobile game launched in 2014. In 2017, the game had earned over $1 billion in revenue. Kotaku has contacted Com2uS for additional details about the cuts.
Metaverse World (Netmarble F&C) – 70 people
A new report from Korea’s Yonhap News reveals about 70 people were laid off by Netmarble on January 19. These people were part of Metaverse World, a metaverse-focused subsidiary of the large South Korean mobile game developer Netmarble. Metaverse World was founded in 2022.
According to a statement provided by Netmarble to Yonhap News, the entire subsidiary has been “liquidated.”
“We continued to seek a sustainable business direction,” a Netmarble spokesperson said. “But due to management conditions and market changes, we have made the difficult decision to liquidate the ‘Metaverse World’ corporation, which was developing the Metaverse platform.”
As pointed out by Korea JoongAng Daily, Netmarble’s last seven financial quarters weren’t profitable. As a result, the company is looking to streamline and cut costs. It has recently shut down multiple mobile games, including Koongya Draw Party, Knights Chronicle, StoneAge World, and online MMORPG Marvel Future Revolution. Kotaku has contacted Netmarble for more information.
Ntreev Soft (NCSoft) – 70 people
On January 18, Korea JoongAng Daily reported that NCSoft—a South Korean video game developer and publisher known for MMOs like Guild Wars and Lineage—laid off all 70 employees that made up its Ntreev Soft subsidiary.
According to the outlet, it will also shut down some mobile games, too, including Trickster M, Pro-Baseball H2, and Pro-Baseball H3. This is the latest move by NCSoft to revamp the company and cut costs. In December, the outlet also reported that NCSoft cut a financial AI unit within the company.
Kotaku has contacted NCSoft about the layoffs.
Riot Games – 530 people
The developer and publisher behind League of Legends and Valorant announced on January 22 that it was cutting 530 jobs or about 11% of its total workforce. The news was first reported by Bloomberg earlier in the day.
“Today, I’m sharing a decision we hoped we would never have to make at Riot,”
said CEO Dylan Jadeja in a post on the company’s official website. “We’re changing some of the bets we’ve made and shifting how we work across the company to create focus and move us toward a more sustainable future. This decision means we’re eliminating about 530 roles globally, which represents around 11% of our workforce, with the biggest impact to teams outside of core development. This also sadly means we’ll be saying goodbye to many talented colleagues and friends across all areas of Riot.”
Riot explained that it was winding down its Riot Forge program following the release of Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Riot Forge was a program where the publisher worked with outside development teams to create spin-off games set in the larger LoL universe. It will also reduce the number of people working on its card game, Legends of Runeterra.
“Despite critical achievements and the role it’s played in helping to build out the world of Runeterra, [Legends of Runeterra] has faced financial challenges since launch, costing significantly more to develop and support than it generates,” explained Riot Games.
The company also released the internal memo sent out to staff on January 22 announcing the layoffs. In the memo, CEO Jadeja said he was “accountable” for the layoffs and cited Riot having “too many things underway” as the main reason for the cuts.
“Some of the significant investments we’ve made aren’t paying off the way we expected them to,” said Jadeja. “Our costs have grown to the point where they’re unsustainable, and we’ve left ourselves with no room for experimentation or failure – which is vital to a creative company like ours. All of this puts the core of our business at risk.
In the internal memo, Riot laid out what it will provide to those folks losing their job, which includes a minimum six-month severance pay, a cash bonus equal to their 2023 Annual Performance Bonus, a laptop, job placement services, and access to their work email for a limited time after termination.
One Player Mission – 15 people
On January 23, video game recruitment agency One Player Mission (OPM) announced it is closing after 26 years. The company employed 15 people. In a post on OPM’s official website, managing director Kim Parker-Adcock said it was an “incredibly challenging decision” to shut down OPM.
“As we move into 2024, despite our best efforts I cannot see how OPM can remain profitable and overcome the difficulties that have arisen in the games industry,” said Parker-Adcock. “I understand the impact this decision has on our employees, clients, candidates, and partners, and I can only apologize for any disruption this might cause.”
People Can Fly – 30+ people
On January 24, over 30 people were laid off from Polish-based People Can Fly. Kotaku has learned from a source with knowledge of the situation, who also provided screenshots confirming the layoff news, that the cuts only affected staff working on a yet-unannounced game—codenamed Project Gemini—that is being published by Square Enix.
People Can Fly confirmed to Kotaku layoffs have happened at the studio.
People Can Fly development director Adam Alker, in an email provided to Kotaku and sent to staff working on Project Gemini, explained that due to budget limitations and shrinking scope, the company was laying off “over 30 people.” Around 20 people were also cut from the project but will continue working at PCF on other projects.
“We understand that this decision impacts each of you, and we want to express our gratitude for your hard work, dedication, and contributions thus far,” said Alker in the internal email. “To those individuals transitioning out of the studio due to these changes, we extend our sincere appreciation for the skills and expertise you brought to the team. We will keep our fingers crossed for your next steps in game dev and offer all our support.”
People Can Fly previously worked with Square Enix on 2021 looter-shooter Outriders. In 2023, Project Gemini was confirmed to be in development and was set to launch in 2026. It’s unknown if that release date will stick following these cuts. A source told Kotaku that the upcoming game’s campaign was going to be shorter and its enemy roster smaller as a result of the reduced budget.
Kotaku was told that, due to contract details, laid off employees in Poland were given a three-month transition period and will continue working during that time. For those outside of Poland who were affected by today’s cuts, they will be out of a job by the end of the week.
Black Forest Games – Around 50 people
Kotaku has learned that Black Forest Games, the developer behind the Destroy All Humans! 1 and 2 remakes, has cut roughly 50% of its total workforce. The studio reportedly had 110 employees in 2023. The layoffs were announced on January 24 and management told staff that more information would be provided next week.
One person with knowledge of the situation told Kotaku that the creative directors and most “if not all” of the managers will keep their jobs. At least one employee has posted publicly about the layoffs on social media, Kotaku can confirm.
Kotaku has contacted Black Forest Games about the layoffs. In August 2023, THQ Nordic (owned by Embracer) announced that BFG was working on a TMNT game based on the popular, darker spin-off comic series The Last Ronin. According to Paramount, that game is still a few years away.
As of January 24, 2024, at least 3,972 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, Riot, and Unity.