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NantG Mobile, the joint game development venture from NantWorks and San Diego, CA-based Daybreak Games, is handing development of Z1 Battle Royal back to Daybreak, a move that appears to have resulted in a number of layoffs at NantG.
We’ve reached out to NantG for confirmation, but tweets picked up by MassivelyOP over the weekend show that a number of developers that previously worked on the project left the company just recently, with at least one developer noting that their departure was the result of layoffs.
Since those initial reports, NantG has shared a post to Z1 Battle Royale’s Steam page to announce that development of the game would be handed back to Daybreak Games and that NantG Mobile would “focus on its core mission of developing mobile games moving forward, and we have refocused our team toward this vision.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by these layoffs, you can email Gamasutra to share your story confidentially.
NantG Mobile itself has only been up and running since late last year and is the result of a joint venture between H1Z1 and Everquest dev Daybreak Game Company and NantWorks. At the time of its first announcement, the studio had plans to manage development of the PC version of Z1 Battle Royale while also developing and publishing mobile versions of H1Z1 and Everquest.
According to NantG Mobile's recent post, handing the PC version of Z1 Battle Royale makes it so “both Z1BR and H1Z1 will be under one publishing umbrella once again.” However, it’s unclear what portion, if any, of the development team that had been working on the game at NantG Mobile will make the jump as well. Daybreak Games itself has had a couple of rounds of layoffs in recent memory, including one that hit an estimated 70 people just last December.
Update: According to a former NantG Mobile developer affected by the layoffs, approximately 13 people lost their jobs as a result of the Z1 Battle Royale handoff, meaning roughly half the studio was let go this week. Those cuts almost entirely affected developers who had been working on the Z1 Battle Royale project, many of whom were brought over from Daybreak less than a year ago to work on the game at NantG Mobile.
“This transition is particularly difficult as it almost entirely targeted the developers of H1Z1/Z1BR,” says an anonymous developer speaking to Gamasutra. “And while it was not a surprise to any of the team that the product was likely at the end of its profitability, assurances had been made that our jobs were in no way tied to the success or failure of the project.”
According to that same developer, severance for those affected by the layoffs was based only on time spent at NantG mobile, a studio that only opened up around six months ago, rather than combined time employed at Daybreak and NantG. This means that, in some cases, “our people lost out on upwards of 18 years worth of seniority,” says the former NantG dev.
According to that developer, the bulk of the NantG team, outside of management and four others, was composed of developers that transitioned from Daybreak for the new NantG Mobile joint venture. The team working directly on Z1 Battle Royale, and thus those affected by this week’s layoffs, was mostly, if not entirely, made up of Daybreak staff that transitioned to NantG Mobile when the studio was set up.