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Layoffs hit id Software
Layoffs hit id Software
January 10, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

Following the October release of its post-apocalyptic shooter Rage, Dallas-based id Software has decided to restructure its development team, and has laid off an undisclosed number of its staff.

id parent company Bethesda Softworks (owned by ZeniMax Media) confirmed to Gamasutra that these employees were let go as part of the studio's regular internal evaluation.

"As part of its standard business practice, id regularly evaluates staffing to ensure it has a workforce that meets the needs of the studio. As part of that process, some id employees were recently let go," said Bethesda VP of marketing and PR Pete Hines.

Despite the layoffs, Hines added that "id is still recruiting and hiring qualified developers, and development work on future id titles continues unabated."

id's most recent project, Rage, launched last year to largely positive reviews, with some critics saying the game was "nothing revolutionary" despite its well-crafted shooting mechanics.

After its launch, the game became the fourth best-selling game at U.S. retail in October 2011, a month that also saw major releases such as Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, and Forza Motorsport 4.

Rage also marked a significant development shift for the historically PC-focused id Software. Shortly after the game's debut, id co-founder and lead programmer John Carmack pointed out that the studio does "not see the PC as the leading platform for games," despite its heritage with series such as Wolfenstein, Quake, and Doom.

The company is currently working on Doom 4, which was first announced in May 2008.

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Mike Kasprzak
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Love it. Fired some, but still hiring.

Jose Talbott
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Normal business practice people are hired after a year, two, whatever.... they are evaluated and if the company finds they are lacking or not working up to a desired performance they are let go. Now they have spots that are empty on their dev teams, so they need to hire again too fill in the holes.

I really don't the point of your post/sarcasm isn't that type of talk for the "other" sites.

Ken Kinnison
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@jose While you're correct, it still 'reads' a bit weird.

I was laid off at one point for lack of work- they didn't replace me until they rehired me. If they'd hired somebody else then it becomes being fired, but the company spared me the stigma. If you talk about hiring in the same paragraph though, well you kinda remove that.

Allen Brooks
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I can't imagine why they aren't buried in applications!

What's that? They are? From starry-eyed noob grads and all the other industry vets laid off from other studios?

So it goes.

Headline prediction, 1 week from now: Former id Software Vets Form Social Game Studio

Kim Pittman
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Not defending the cycle of "lay off hire up" but it is possible the people laid off were not right for the open positions. For example laying off an environmental artist who couldn't fill your open animator position, laying off a gameplay programmer doesn't fill your tools position and so on.

They may also have done reviews and choose to lay people off (easier to get unemployment) rather than to fire them.

Kale Menges
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Sounds like a consolidation of in-house talent to help focus the studio on fewer but more resource-intensive projects, namely Doom 4. One must also not forget that the iD software of 2012 is no longer the independent establishment it had always been up until recently; they are indeed now owned by a corporate media conglomerate that, when all is said and done, bases its decisions on its bottom line, decisions which can ultimately trickle down to every level of the company. It wouldn't surprise me all that much to see similar action happening within Bethesda in the not too distant future.

Joshua Darlington
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At very least, a cycle of firing and hiring vets from other studios and etc is a smart way of circulating IP through an industry.

Michael Gribbin
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I enjoy your outlook on the big picture :)

That's quite the uncommon thought to have in response to news like this, kudos.

Also, I don't think you mean IP in the way that it is defined (as PROPERTY), but moreso spreading intellectual philosophies and experiences throughout an industry -- it does spread, and it is probably a good thing for everyone.

Best of luck to all those who are job hunting. May the future bring you the success you seek!

Mike Kasprzak
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@Jose Talbot: You like to start fights I see.

Some of us like to joke about the ironic sides of our industry. If nobody says anything, it doesn't get heard. Nothing changes if nothing is questioned.

Ken Love
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I suppose there was probably ALOT of Rage over there concerning these layoff's. ;-)

Jane Castle
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I wonder if John Carmack managed to avoid the layoff...... ;P

Ken Love
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Yes, he's fine. He managed to get on the Commander Keen Colecovision reboot project.

Rajveer Kothari
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Fourth best selling game title and the company still went on to lay off some of the employees...?

I can understand that maybe the ones who got laid off probably didn't work on R.A.G.E.

Just made me think... If your game does well, you may get to keep your job. If it doesn't, you're surely don't!

David Holmin
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Fourth best selling game is good, but considering the development time, I doubt it was a huge moneymaker. Anyway, I recently picked it up, and it's a pretty cool game, desipite having many of the (in my view) faults of modern FPS games.

Jakub Majewski
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Hey, it beats the movie industry - there, at the end of a film's post-production, everyone gets fired, including the director! :)

Nathaniel Marlow
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I've never worked in movies, but I figured since everyone knew upfront about leaving after the movie's completion it wasn't nearly as bad as winning the layoff lottery?

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

Jakub Majewski
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Yeah, that's exactly the difference. In film, you have a contract for the duration of the film. You know that afterwards you'll need to go elsewhere. In games, they usually don't tell you that, so it's a big and unpleasant surprise.

Only once did I hear of a situation where the employees knew in advance they would be losing their jobs - when LucasArts went through a big restructure a few years ago, the CEO basically told everyone in the company that all the development teams would be dismissed after the completion of their game, with only the last team standing to stay onboard. So, people had a long time to prepare, and the HR department actually assisted them in finding new jobs. A pretty comfortable situation, but even so, I'm surprised this worked out as well as it did - usually, in games development, new jobs demand that you start almost immediately, so I would have expected a lot of those people would have left before the end of their project, as soon as they could find something else. Apparently this didn't happen, though, everyone stuck around and finished their projects.

I think this would be a great model in general for game developers, except for one caveat - you can only do it in big gamedev hubs. Obviously, few people would want to relocate for a one year job in the middle of nowhere, where you know you have to relocate again afterwards.

Tony Payne
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Hard to believe that id software are going to fire the employees,good luck guys.

Best wishes.