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THQ Confirms Volition, Kaos Layoffs
THQ Confirms Volition, Kaos Layoffs
March 31, 2011 | By Kris Graft

March 31, 2011 | By Kris Graft

THQ confirmed to Gamasutra that this week it laid off over 30 employees across Homefront house Kaos Studios and Red Faction developer Volition.

"We have had to let go of 16 employees at Volition, our studio in Champaign, Illinois," said THQ in a statement. "We must adjust our workforce to fit the studio's current needs, which is a relatively common occurrence in the game development industry."

Volition is one of THQ's top internal studios, and home of key franchises including the sci-fi action series Red Faction and the open-world crime game Saints Row.

The studio is currently at work on upcoming new entries in each of those franchises, as well as a project called Insane in collaboration with film director Guillermo Del Toro.

"Steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern," THQ's statement added. "The changes are not expected to affect any current or future titles in development with Volition." A THQ rep told Gamasutra 220 employees remain at the studio.

The THQ rep was confirming an email from a source within the studio who said the layoffs at Volition happened on March 29, and that the cuts affected "both new and long-term employees."

Also affected by layoffs was THQ's Kaos Studios, which just released the first-person shooter Homefront, a game that sold over 1 million units worldwide a little over a week after its March 15 launch. The THQ rep said 17 workers were let go from the studio today and that about 70 employees remain at the studio.

THQ said, "Kaos has a dedicated team in place that will continue to support Homefront with an ongoing, robust DLC and content plan, as well as working on pre-production for future games."

"We have made changes to ensure that the team size aligns to the current stages of internal product development," the statement added. The publisher said it will offer outplacement assistance to help with future employment.

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Achilles de Flandres
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"Hey, is that game done?"

"Yes sir. Infact, it sold 1 million units in just the first week."

"Good! You're fired!"

Tim Carter
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Hey carpenter, is the house built?

Yes, Mr House Owner, it is.

Okay, we don't need you anymore.

But now I gotta get a new job!?!

Um... shouldn't you open up, like, a carpentry business then? Why are you depending on me to employ you now? I'm sure there are lots of other potential homeowners who need to build houses...

David Wilcox
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So are game designers employees, or contractors? Achilles' analogy is premised on the former; Tim's on the latter.

Honest question, because I don't know. From stories like these, it seems they're treated like a bit of both.

scott stevens
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I wish I could simply "Like" this comment, but instead I have to leave a comment of my own.

The fact is, in today's economy it really is difficult for studios to pay people who don't have any more work to do.

Happily, there are other studios out there who need talented people of their skills with a proven track record of execution.

Zach Grant
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Unfortunately for the Volition folks, if they want to continue working in games, Champaign doesn't really have other options.

Dante Rinaldi
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Dude, this is the worst analogy I've ever heard.

Apparently, you've never been laid off. Try to imagine the Carpenters BOSS laying of 20 of his workers after the house is built. That would be more accurate.

Educate yourself with the ways of the real world before you convey your immense ignorance to us all.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Dante, I believe Tim is talking about how things _should_ work and not ignorant of how they do work. The message I took, which I agree with, is that we all need to wise up to the nature of game development and move to a contract model (higher wages to make up for downtime, less emotional trauma because it won't be unexpected, unionized and affordable healthcare to cover you during transitions, royalties instead of bonuses so you get paid for success even after employment has ended).

I also agree with Achilles' rhetoric, given the current industry landscape (and the fact that that is what happened).

Sherman Luong
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If they hired them as full time then yes its sucks, But if they were hired as contractors the expectations are set. They get contractor rates which should be higher than a full time employee.

but who am I kidding, this is the gaming industry.

Tim Carter
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Exactly Jeffrey.

That will also take a lot of pressure off the creative leads who are trying to structure the projects.

Dennis Crow
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Best wishes to everyone who was let go. Good luck on your new endeavors--

Luis Levy
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Things seem really tough for AAA devs out there. No wonder so many are turning to mobile & social games. Here's hoping more talented folks jump on the Android bandwagon -- we need more AAA-like games :)

Lo Pan
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I think it must be part of the job description for executive management to find work for their quality workers. Contractors excluded. If a team executes decently on a game, they deserve another project. If they fail to hit schedule/quality/cost metrics...they are fired.

Joe McGinn
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Worse than that ... these are THQ's best teams, their most successful games. It's not even "one strike and yer out" it's "thanks for the hit game, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out".

Tim Carter
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Yes. And what that does is it puts pressure on trying to get the next deal. And since rushing is never good in a creative environment, that means... you guessed it... SEQUELS!

So, if you are interested in making quality games, accept the fact you will have downtime between projects. But if you're just supposed to play "mom to your crew", well you'll need to take whatever junk comes along to feed all the mouths you have.

Andrew Grapsas
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To all of my friends and former colleagues that were let go I give you the best of wishes in finding a new place to work. You were a talented bunch of folk back when I was there and hopefully can find a place in NYC that appreciates your skills.

Coray Seifert
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Here here! Hiring managers, if you see someone with Kaos on their resume, it probably means they kick ass, so you should definitely hire them! There were and are a ton of talented people at Kaos and I hope I get the opportunity to work with some of you again!

Buck Hammerstein
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all the best to the Kaos team now looking for work.

but shouldn't they all just tail the guy with the "follow me" tagline over his head? maybe follow him for under 5 hours until he comes to the end of his search for a new job.

just remember, you can't open the door to the interview until HE DOES, even though the "magic door" does operate like the ten million other doors you've seen.

Emmanuel Petti
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Sounds like they chose not to retrain contractors.... are we making a story out of nothing?

David Linn
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Heard it through the grapevine that lot of the employees who were let go were full-time-ers and have been there for 4-6 years. They have not laid off any managers though. It is funny how the people who make the bad decisions (the managers) get to stay and the core people who actually matter has to go.

Tim Carter
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Just wait until they get their next project. Then they'll need them. And why not?

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Tim Carter
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Even Frank Lloyd Wright wasn't needed by the Guggenheim foundation after he finished designing and supervising construction of the Guggeinheim Museum.

It's not about quality. It's simply lack of work.

Paul Orlemanski
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Hearing from all these big epic game studios that are reducingt heir work force, it seems like the most secure job would be working for a casual game developer.

Andrew Locko
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or the arcade game industry for that matter - I never thought I would be able to say that

Paul Lazenby
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I think they'd also be more open to keeping the full teams if reception to Homefront was better. Yes they sold a million the first week, and it is my understanding that the sales fell like a lead ballon thereafter - a combination of poor scores, user comments, lackluster marketing and, of course, Crysis.

If they clear 2M at full retail they will break-even.

It does not look good for this franchise at the moment, thus why retain anyway you're not certain you will absolutely need?