While the news of Dreadnought‘s launch may have been good news for gamers, it wasn’t good news for many employees at developer Six Foot. Game Informer is reporting, and Six Foot has confirmed, that a third of the company’s developers have been let go, a move that’s been planned since August.

GI originally heard from internal sources that the company had been having “money issues” for a while, and that Oct. 12 would be the last date the studio “could confidently pay their employees.” Dreadnought launched two days later, and the attempts to deal with the usual launch-day issues were described by one employee as “simultaneously both hurried and spiritless.”

According to a source, the game cost $400,000 for its final push to launch, with continuing costs of about $80,000/day to cover employees’ expenses. “The game has not made anywhere near that,” the source said. “I do not recall the exact number, but it was less than $20,000 a day.” As such, the studio gave 45 of its roughly 200 employees a choice: Take an unpaid leave of absence and return if and when Dreadnought starting turning a profit, or be laid off with full unemployment benefits with the potential to be rehired if things turn around.

Following Game Informer’s article, Six Foot COO Christian Svensson issued a statement confirming the reports. It reads:

    “In August, Six Foot informed its staff of the upcoming potential for major changes to our company structure, including continued development of Dreadnought as a live product. Everyone on the games team was given the option to stay on and continue working or begin searching for other opportunities with the full support of the company and the aid of our staffing team, while still receiving pay in the interim. New updates on the company’s status were delivered to the full team every two weeks from there.

    Today we regrettably confirm a reduction of about a third of our game dev workforce. We’re continuing to make available the full resources of our company to try to help those affected and their families land on their feet as quickly as possible.

    We remain committed to Dreadnought’s ongoing development, growth, and the pursuit of new projects. We are also dedicated to remaining active in helping our affected family to transition as smoothly as possible.”

While it’s certainly tragic for the people involved, one has to at least give Six Foot credit for handling the matter in a dignified fashion, from giving its employees about two months’ notice to the dignified manner in which it’s managing the transition. This stands in stark contrast to what recently went down with the shuttering of Telltale Games, as well as many other game studio closures throughout the years.

As for what all this means for Dreadnought … well, I’m not optimistic about the game’s future. Just like Gigantic, I got my first taste of Dreadnought at PAX South 2015, and just like Gigantic, it drifted from my consciousness because it took too long to develop. Certainly, expenses are less than $80,000 per day now, but if the game is only managing $20,000 per day during its launch window, when interest should be at its highest, that’s a bad sign. Steamcharts currently has it pegged at around 1,500-2,000 concurrent active players, which isn’t bad, but if the team has been impacted to the point that bug fixes and new content will be affected, that won’t bode too well for the game’s future.

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

6 Readers Commented

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  1. Filippo on October 19, 2018

    It’s perfectly normal for a game company to lay off someone at the end of a project.
    It’s like making a news on people being jobless after finishing the construction of a house…

    • Curst on October 19, 2018

      The problem is that with online games release is not the end of a project, only game’s closure is. Is that what’s coming soon for Dreadnought?

      • Filippo on October 19, 2018

        Every game in this world requires more people during the main development. You need people to create the design, the idea, to build the software you’ll use to develop everything else, to fix the servers, to publicize it…

        Once the core is done, you just need a few people to maintain it active. in the case of Dreadnought, we are talking about one or 2 new ships reskins per season, 2 new tattoos, some number tweaks…
        Textures are being recycled, same as contents..
        Trust me, i work in a similar industry and that’s how it works.

        Any smart developer / Designer knows that working for a game company only leads to that point and you have to work as much as you can to build your own career and be able to be hired by the next one once the work is done.

        • Curst on October 19, 2018

          I’m sure what you are talking about is how good games are run and not a sign of poor leadership / management and impending failure (unless your competition fails even harder). Besides, this “release” doesn’t signify anything other than a change of label as this game was open for everyone and accepting payments from customers for quite a while now.

          It is possible that they’ll turn this into a succes thans to larger reach of Steam, but that’s not how things go usually. As a general rule, bad games (or even games that aren’t good / relevant enough) don’t do well on Steam just as much as good games don’t fail (to a point of not having the resources to reliably pay company employees) outside of Steam. There are exceptions, but this doesn’t look like one.

          Whatever. It’s not like I have a stake in this argument. We’ll see what future holds for this game soon enough.

  2. rickshaw on October 18, 2018

    The problem with this sort of news is players always think bad thoughts and not exactly how good they were to their employee by notice and deals.
    The game itself isn’t my sort of game its an arena game and I would of thought with all that talent it would of made a better mmo space game or a single player one.

  3. Deathloche on October 18, 2018

    Dreadnought will be shut down before the year is done.

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