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Report: Silicon Knights Loses A Majority Of Its Staff
Report: Silicon Knights Loses A Majority Of Its Staff
October 31, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

October 31, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Canadian video game developer Silicon Knights has allegedly laid off the majority of its staff.

Sources speaking to 1UP confirmed the news over the weekend, saying that all but 25 of the company's "core staff" were let go.

Though the studio's headcount as of last week is unknown, Silicon Knights was staffed by 97 people in July.

It was at that time that the studio received a CDN$3 million grant from the Ontario government to help expand its headcount. According to president Denis Dyack, the funding would help the company become "self sustaining," and further allowing its staff size to increase from 97 to 177.

That grant came on top of a total of CDN$35 million that the studio had received in grants over the past five years.

The exact nature of the layoffs was not reported by 1UP's sources, nor has the information been officially confirmed by a company representative at press time.

Its latest game, Activision's comic book-licensed X-Men Destiny was a critical flop, with Metacritic scores ranging from 38 to 52 across its three home console SKUs.

Update: Studio CFO Mike Mays has confirmed layoffs at the studio, blaming a project that was cancelled "at the final second" for the necessity of the redundancies. The exact numbers, however, were not accurate in the original report: the current headcount of the studio is "just under 40," not 25 as previously reported, and the amount of employees laid off was 45.

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Leo Gura
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Saw that coming since Too Human tanked. I'm surprised they're still operating with 25 staff. Must be those juicy grants. But they won't last forever.

Michael Lyashenko
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Dyack is a thief at best. I don't know why our government keeps wasting money on his failure. I personally know several fellow devs who have been laid off from SK, both after Too Human and XMen, and the only one to blame for the latest game's failure is Dyack himself and how he runs his company.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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We can't even keep our headcount with government grants. I picked the wrong god-forsaken industry :/.

Jane Castle
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I remember going to their website and it would ask you if you had ever been convicted of a crime. If you said yes then there were NO jobs available. If you said no then the jobs would appear.

Anyways this company always has and always will be a sham. Without the grants they wouldn't even exist.

Jeremy Reaban
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Should have given the money to Frima.

Though I think this demonstrates the problem with the government handing out money to businesses - they don't know who to pick, even though it would be obvious to virtually every gamer that SK was not a particularly good developer or one that would be wise to give money to if you want a long term benefit.

But I'm sure they must have had lobbyists, or their Canadian equivalent...

William Johnson
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Well, video games are such a new medium. Whom would they get to comprise this committee? Odds are Denis Dyhack himself would find a way on to it, and talk the talk, like he likes to do, sell them on a big amazing idea, only to have his company fall short in every conceivable and measurable way.

SK are pretty good with coming up with good ideas for games, but they are horrible at executing that idea.

Bolo Yeung
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That's the problem when you circumvent the free market. It creates inferior product. I can understand wanting to grow a country's industry by giving out grants to new studios. But this funding should be reserved for new ventures not giving to companies that have proven they can't be profitable or compete. How many good companies have gone under in the last three years while this guy gets to parasite on the backs of the tax payers? Silicon Knights should never have been funded in the first place and this game never made. They proved that with Too Human they are not capable of competing in Triple A development and no amount of money will change this fact.

Christopher Myburgh
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Well I hope the laid-off staff get together and start forming their own studios. Then perhaps with that clown Dyack out of the way, they can start making some GOOD games!

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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According to the article when they last got a grant, they were trying to become a publisher, which seems like a bad move when you dont have a profitable catalog. Valve had TF2 and Half-life, Paradox has all their niche, but profitable strategy games, but SK hasnt had a successful game since the gamecube.

Anyhow its hard to predict which studios will become successful. Take some of Canada's best studios, and look at the first few games they made before becoming big, its rarely impressive. Others start strong and tank fast. However if the laid-off developpers stay in the region they still retain their experience and its not a total loss for Ontario. There's a *lot* of studios hiring right now in eastern canada, so best of luck to those who lost their job, it sucks but it may pave the way to something better for them.

Kevin Patterson
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I hate to see anyone lose their jobs, my best wishes to them all.

I remember when Silicon Knights made good games, hopefully they can rebound.

Denis Nickoleff
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I wish I could get million dollar grants

Buck Hammerstein
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SK used to make fairly decent games and it's bad to hear about the staff situation especially getting close to christmas but Dyack's "way with words" wasn't enough to make a company stay afloat.

lots of rumours about how Too Human was run near the end with many seeing how that project was just doomed to be the money pit it turned into. Dyack is known for talking big and the grant bureau obviously got suckered... hope someone over there reads this staff layoff news as a reason to stop signing taxpayers money over to his outfit.

Mike Kasprzak
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> the funding would help the company become "self sustaining," and further allowing its staff size to increase from 97 to 177.

Oh the irony of requiring "funding" to become self sustaining.

Pro Tip: Any company openly claiming plans to double its size in to the hundreds doesn't know what they are doing. They're either burning their money, or someone elses (grants, VC).

Evan Salas
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sounds like maybe company executives are taking some "kickback" from their grants. And second if a studio ever needs funding to become self sustaining then the studio needs to be shut down.

Jonathan Murphy
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Ouch, ouch and ouch. I can't imagine them surviving after this.

John Woznack
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Why can't the Canadian government demand their grants back?

(Perhaps a curious Canadian citizen could quiz their local congressmen?)