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Feature: 'Game Developer Layoffs: The Real Story'

Feature: 'Game Developer Layoffs: The Real Story'

January 12, 2009 | By Eric Caoili

January 12, 2009 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC

With layoffs hitting the allegedly 'recession-proof' game industry, Gamasutra talks to recently laid off employees from Pandemic, Eidos, and Ensemble to find out the human story behind the corporate announcements.

Though most of the job cuts and studio closings so far have been in North America, the source of the current global economic crisis, several overseas developers are also seeing staff cuts, as Michael Souto, who was executive producer at Eidos Interactive and served at the company for nearly 10 years before recently made redundant, can attest.

"It's a really tough and life-changing event if you don't find a replacement job quickly," he recalls. "It's tough in the best of times, but to go through it now in this sensitive economic climate only makes it worse. It's shocking when it first happens, but you have to take stock and move on."

"But moving on" hasn't been easy, reports Souto, who has been on a few interviews via conventional job advertisements, none of them yet successful. He's also signed up with several recruitment agencies which has resulted in a few leads.

"I'm still looking," he says, "but it's far harder than I expected. While there seem to be quite a few jobs out there, there are also quite a few people hunting, which means that employers are now able to find the perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes.

Souto says that with many companies now limiting their hires to what they see as impeccable candidates, many job seekers who were qualified for similar positions before are now unable to secure the same openings:

"In the past, a candidate could fulfill 90% of the role and it would be understood that the remaining 10% could be worked on. However, that '100% candidate' is potentially out there in the large job-seeking pool. So the difference between getting that job and missing out could be a very minor feature or attribute."

Souto had interviewed for one particular spot and was one of the last two finalists. But, he says, the deciding factor wasn't his skill as a game developer but his perceived lack of interest in a particular sport. "It was enough to sway the job in the other direction," he says. In another interview, he was informed that he had worked too long at Eidos.

"It's unbelievable!" he says. "I also have friends who didn't get jobs because they were told they had moved around too much. I must say that it's rather disheartening. All I can say is that if you're reading this and looking for a job, keep the faith and I sincerely hope that you find one soon. Good luck!"

You can read the full feature, which also includes anecdotes and the experiences of other recently laid off professionals in the game industry from developers like Ensemble and Pandemic (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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