250 out of work as Gameloft suddenly shuts down its India studio [Updated]
On the same day that Gameloft's company heads boasted to investors and journalists of its 27 percent revenue growth
in 2012, the entirety of its India studio was told to pack up and go home.
Over 250 game developers are out of work from Gameloft's Hyderabad studio, Gamasutra is told. Worse, the company allegedly asked its employees to sign a note lying about their resignations being voluntary.
Affected sources tell Gamasutra that it had been business-as-usual at Gameloft's Hyderabad office this morning, until rumors started spreading around noon local time that the studio was in trouble.
At 2:00 all employees were informed of a company-wide meeting 45 minutes later, where HR and studio manager Sarang Nafdey explained the bad news.
According to one source speaking under anonymity, employees were asked to immediately pack up their belongings and leave. The company internet was disabled, and its balcony doors shut.
According to one source, employees were asked to sign two letters before leaving: a form saying they were leaving for personal reasons rather than being laid off (pre-dated from yesterday, January 28th) and an acceptance of resignation from Gameloft dated Tuesday the 29th. That source tells us that he and others have not signed the letters yet, describing them as "fishy."
Gameloft India was primarily a porting house. Most Gameloft titles are initially developed for iOS. Hyderabad's main function was to port these to Android devices.
The news was relayed to Gamasutra while Gameloft was giving a conference call
for investors and media discussing its 27 percent revenue growth in 2012.
Gameloft has not yet responded to a request for confirmation at press time.
Update (January 13, 10:15am):
Gameloft has officially refused to comment on this story, to the extent that the company will not even acknowledge that there was a studio closure.
Meanwhile, another affected employee has relayed their story in our comments
"People call it fishy, shady, illegal or whatever, and yes they should because management was in [a] real hurry to complete the process of signing the docs that too within 2-3 hours after announcement," the anonymous commenter said.
"They didn't even consider giving time to employees to seek help from their legal adviser. They didn't bother to answer major and obvious concerns too!"
We've also spoken with two additional employees who are considering legal action against Gameloft. Should this happen, Gamasutra will have the story.