Starbreeze ditch 25 employees

What the fuck is wrong with this industry?

On Friday reported that Starbreeze Studios, developers of the Syndicate remake due out next week, have cut 25 staff in the wake of the game’s completion. In addition to this board member Peter Tornquist will be resigning from Starbreeze’s board with nobody planned to replace him. This sort of thing happens with such sickening regularity in the industry it’s become damn near as inevitable as the cold, bitter embrace of death. If you’ve spent months or even years working on a game then once the dust of crunch time has settled, and the game’s gone gold, you’d better keep a keen eye on the job pages. Especially if you’re a contractor.

Contractors don’t get their inevitable redundancy mentioned on industry news sites though. It’s a fact of life for them, like death and taxes, and when work on a game finishes they’re left by the wayside in droves. In this case however the staff who were laid-off seemingly weren’t coding guns-for-hire but actual employees. At least that’s what Starbreeze CEO Mikael Nermark calls them in his rather terse statement on the matter. “It is sad that we are forced to make staff cutbacks affecting employees. But we have to reduce staff after the final delivery of the Syndicate.” As statements go it’s certainly more tactful than “thanks for all your hard work, now clear your desk and fuck off,” but they’re the same thing at the end of the final working day.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I read about the direction Starbreeze were taking their jazzy 2012 Syndicate remake. It’s not like there’s a chronic shortage of first-person shooters forcing us to grub in the dirt like peasants for anything with iron sights. We’re practically drowning in the fucking things. Being the cantankerous old git that I am I would not have been happy with anything less than a glossy modern version of Syndicate Wars (the better one of the two) with destructible buildings, orbital strikes and nuclear grenades included. I accused Starbreeze of being lazy and unimaginative, and I said a bunch of other mean things about them too. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel bad for the poor sods spending all day tomorrow scouring industry job sites, in a long quest for their next pay packet. I’m not a monster.

This latest development isn’t even the first such story this year. Twisted Metal developer Eat Sleep Play ditched 8 employees early this month along with co-founder David Jaffe, creator of Twisted Metal and also God of War. If not even a co-founder of a development studio is safe from the chop then what hope is there for the boys and girls in the trenches? Sweet FA, that’s what. This isn’t the first case of “pack ‘em then sack ‘em” we’ve heard about this year and it certainly won’t be the last either. There is something terribly wrong with this industry when stuff like this occurs with such depressing regularity.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to the former Starbreeze staff affected by this.


Matt McDermott

About Matt McDermott

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind