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 Thief  developer Eidos Montreal lays off 27 workers
Thief developer Eidos Montreal lays off 27 workers
March 4, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

Newsbrief: 27 Eidos Montreal employees were laid off today, according to a statement provided to Kotaku from a representative of parent company Square Enix.

No reason was given for the staff reduction other than that it was part of the company's efforts to "have the right setup for current and future projects."

Square Enix claims it is trying to organize a career day for those affected and will attempt to relocate as many as possible to other studios, or even different roles within the same studio.

Eidos Montreal's most recent project, Thief, shipped last month to a lukewarm critical reception.

UPDATE: When reached for comment, a representative of the studio confirmed the layoffs and provided the following statement:

"Yes it is true we’ve let 27 people go today, unfortunately it’s something that every major studio has to do sometimes in order to ensure you have the right set up for current and future projects."

"It’s never a nice thing to do but we are genuinely trying to offer as much support as much as we can. We’re trying to re-locate as many people as possible into other roles here or at our other studios and we’ve been in touch several studios in Montreal to arrange a career day for those affected by this. We’re very thankful for all their hard work and we sincerely wish them well."

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Michael Joseph
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New Thief feels like it got the Twilight treatment but I don't think their audience is supposed to be 12 year old girls. Does this mean there wont be a sequel? I hope they weren't fired based on the design of a game that most of them likely had very little control over.

Tim Conkling
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What a shitty industry.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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When I got into game development, everyone told me about how I would never have any job security again, they couldn't have been more wrong.

When I was laid off in 2012, I found a new job 30 minutes before the end of my last day. Contrast that with when I was laid off from my "normal job" making business apps just a couple years earlier when I was unemployed for 13 months.

Yes, you won't be working at the same company for 35 years until retirement, but there are dang few industries where you can any more. "Job security" is no longer "how well am I able to stay employed at just this one company" and is now "how well am I able to find new employment elsewhere when I get laid off".

I have better job security now than I've ever had in my life... I might need to move to a new city, but I'm far more employable only a few years in game development than I was with twice the experience in c++ programming for business apps.

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Whats a normal job Kaitlyn? I want to know, because I am a creative person but I don't work a job in creation. Need to know if my job is one of those "normal job" apart from an "exceptional job" or whatever they call them these days.

BTW A job that lays you off after work is complete is not job security. It's contracting. So if we are going to throw labels around like "normal job" or "exceptional job" be accurate and specific about the labels.

Kaitlyn Kaid
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in my case, my "normal job" was C++ programming at IBM. My layoff there was... let's just say "complicated" (not sure if my NDA still applies or not), but was not the case that they ran out of work after the job was complete.

The point I was trying to make was that there is no such thing as traditional job security any more. You are not going to sign up to a company and work 35 years there and retire with a pension, or if you do it is by far the exception rather than the rule. The measures of job security that our parents used simply don't apply any more.

I moved to game development for two reasons: 1) I love my job now, and 2) because now I know that I can find new work FAR faster than I could when I did business programming. That is the new "job security".

Bruno Xavier
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Oh boy; so sad :(

Andreas Ahlborn
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This is sad.

Imo Thief is a very good Reboot and a great game. Its problem is that the current Climate is dictated by Journalists, who write for a crowd of Adrenalinjunkies that are convinced "Titanfalls" Multiplayer only-model is the second coming of christ.
And a bunch of youtube-letsplay-watchers that think "seeing" a game is anywhere near to playing it.

In many ways (other than story/dialog which were second rate/mediocre in all the predecessors) Thief is "superior" to DX:HR which had huge problems with camera-handling/qte/bossfights and its a far more "conscious" game than the TombRaider Reboot.

Mike Griffin
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The shipped game has its technical hiccups, which can be remedied, and it takes a good hour or two of play to sneak up on you (hah) and get into the groove of the mechanics, but Thief does atmospheric very well, with a high stealth/break and enter/steal everything compulsion.

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I considered DX:HR fixed after the DC was created. I would love to try Thief out but unfortunately it doesn't exist on a system I primarily game on.

Mark Velthuis
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The reason for these kind of things is often quite simple realy. The solution, not so much.

Big project reaches deadline. More people are hired to make the deadline. Game is shipped. The extra people hired before aren't neded/wanted anymore untill the next big project reaches the deadline, and are laid off.
I think if more developers would folow the "it's done when it's done" mentality, this kind of thing would be seen much less. But not every studio has the means necesary to afford that mentality.

Alan Barton
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@"More people are hired to make the deadline."

That's what contractors are suppose to be for. But some companies don't want to pay contractor rates, so they take on full time staff, deciving them into believing they have a job, only the bosses know they will throw people out at the end of the project.

One of the big reasons contractors are paid more, is because you are effectively paying them to walk away at the end and the extra money allows them the time to find another job. Plus Contractors know they won't see a return on their invested time, effort and knowledge on a project, so they get their return from their contractor rates, which is fair.

What some companies do is plainly unfair to staff, yet they want loyalty from their staff, yet prove through their actions, they don't really have loyalty to their staff.

Like I say, some companies are not like this, but way too many are like this. The game ships and the bosses walk off with whatever profits they can take whilst the staff get nothing and have to find another job and then they have to repeat the whole process again, always hoping they will finally find a good company to work for. Some exist, but there is too many bad ones lying and manipulating their staff so the bosses can gain at the employees expense.

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"You don't pay a whore to stay... You pay a whore to leave..."

I'm sorry I was reminded of this line in the movie Four Bothers when the Antagonist character was upset over his men hiring in town hit men to do a job for him. Don't read much into it's comparison, as I'm not comparing what you guys do to the business of street workers. But it is in relation to what you just said when saying...

"One of the big reasons contractors are paid more, is because you are effectively paying them to walk away at the end and the extra money allows them the time to find another job"

As you stated, the problem with the programing software side of the industry is in the fact that they do hire under the pretense of job stability, but in reality they are just contracting on the cheap. I don't want to condescend on being contracted over being in a secure job, or whether one is better than the other as they both have their strengths and weaknesses depending on how you play your cards.

I will say that it is always best to know the business you are in though and be prepared to know when you are being hired because you know how to do a few things well over being hired because they need you to fill a spot for the duration of your life and the company's existence. I think most people go into programing for the money and the love. But sometimes you just need the person that can do the job quickly and then you need the to leave when its done. It's up to you to like or hate that kind of business practice and to be vocal about your support of dissatisfaction for it.

Alan Barton
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@"it is always best to know the business you are"

Sorry that is completely wrong. We can't just accept this behaviour. For a start, its not too much to expect honesty from bosses. But the bad bosses won't be honest, because they know it'll cost them more to employ temp people as contractors. Yet all staff in all companies (good and bad) are led to believe its all about loyalty to the company, when really the disloyal bad bosses exploit staff loyalty to them, as a way to deceive people into working bloody hard for them, often for many months and then they get rid of them!. Then the bad bosses get another lot of people in over time and then play the same lie on them as well.

Also I started in the games industry in 1990, so I know what its like, but I also know that to all programmers (in all industries) the distinction between contractor and full time is very well understood and very clear. If bosses want loyalty, they have to show loyalty and some do, but unfortunately far too many don't. The first step to loyalty is honesty. The bosses expect staff loyalty, so its not too much to expect it of bosses. Loyal staff will work very hard indeed for a good boss, but every member of staff expects to be treated fairly and honestly.

@"contracted over being in a secure job"
That's the point, the "secure job" as you call it, is really a lie. Its not secure. It can't be secure when they treat staff like cheap contractors without telling the staff they are really a contractor!. The bad bosses are exploiting employee trust to get cheap contractors.

Dean Boytor
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This is disappointing to hear,
I was speaking to one of my peers and she was wondering why none of these game industries use contracts instead.

At least when your a contractor it comes as no surprise at the end of the project that your time is up.

Arnaud Clermonté
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Actually I recently found a studio that does precisely that.
Keep looking !

Judy Tyrer
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"Yes it is true we’ve let 27 people go today, unfortunately it’s something that every major studio has to do sometimes in order to ensure you have the right set up for current and future projects."

I don't know that I have the answer for how to perfectly balance your studio's permanent hires, but I do believe that taking the stance "every major studio has to do this sometimes" is a mistake. Don't we want to learn to staff in a way that doesn't rip people's lives in half by laying them off?

The other possibility is that they are doing what was very popular for several years - cull the bottom 1/3 of your company ever five years. There were studies that showed this wasn't as effective as people hoped, but it is still one that management often clings to.

The game industry clearly needs a better business model for the stability and well being of its employees. Only hiring those who you know you can keep and using contractors for everything else is one model I am exploring.