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.