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Gas Powered Games Layoffs

Gas Powered Games has laid of some staff shortly after the launch of their Wildman Kickstarter seeking $1.1 million for a new action/RPG. This is reported by Kotaku, who confirmed that the company has cut some staff with honcho Chris Taylor after getting wind of them through the grapevine. Taylor did not confirm the extent of the layoffs, however, so there are dramatic elements to the Kotaku report which remain speculative, as one source told them these were due to the Kickstarter underperforming, while other sources have told them that almost everyone who worked for the company was let go. There's a follow up to this on Gamasutra. "The studio is still operating, but we had to slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves," Chris Taylor confirmed for them, confirming some earlier comments that they are all in on Wildman: "We spent all the last dough that we've had, and the last several months working on it. So we're betting the company on it."

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34. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 14:50 Prez
 
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 14:10:
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 13:07:
Prez wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 09:01:
I'd back a Supreme Commander 3 kickstarter in a heartbeat but "Wildman"? As much as I admire Chris Taylor and GPG and hope they survive 'Wildman' is just not exciting to me in the least, so I can't see myself backing it.


Curiously, with the supposed freedom from publisher constraints that Kickstarter offers why wouldn't they be interested in making SC3, a crowd favorite.

Why wouldn't any of the AAA established developers try to capitalize on their best properties? Kickstarter is currently topical and seemingly profitable right now and with the very long lead times (probably longest lead times for any specific retail item save Yachts) you would think that SC3 would be one of those first projects to be offered.

To offer new and untested IP, as an established AAA developer, instead of your known good IP, is an unnecessary waste of time.

Yes, because real, passionate game developers have no creativity that they wish to express whatsoever! They love making the same game over and over again, that thing about publishers forcing them to do so is just a conspiracy theory!

Point taken but given that they are completely out of cash and the survival of their company rests on the success of one kickstarter project it seems that opting for a completely new and untested property over an established franchise with a built-in audience is a HUGE risk. Admittedly SupCom didn't exactly sell by the boatload but it seems like more of a sure-thing to get funded by a ks project at the very least.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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33. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 14:26 m00t
 
Stormsinger, you must not work in the games industry. Often it is completely irrelevant how good your management is and how well prepared you are. Sometimes contracts end before you expect (often with no warning) and not everyone can spare the resources to have many projects going at once (actually very few do). Bad management would be to run the company into the ground, beg people to stay with no pay for months without a realistic plan. At least paying severance and PTO gives people some cushion to find some place else. There are a lot of things that are simply out of your hands as an independent game developer and you gamble every time you choose to make a game.  
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32. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 14:15 Stormsinger
 
Dev wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 12:30:
Its very common for game companies to lay off people between games, and re-hire them when games need a team to work on them.

This is actually GOOD of them and shows GOOD planning to do this before they run completely out of reserves, which would lead to them being bankrupt. Doing it before that point means they can continue until they get a game going (which they are hoping is wildman).

I think you're confusing "good" with "less than fucking horrible". Massive layoffs with reserves is a less horrible plan than closing the company...but it's a long way from a good plan, except for the owners.
 
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31. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 14:12 Stormsinger
 
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 02:27:
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 01:10:
and avoids screwing the employees.

In other words, you're talking out of your ass without RTFA. He says specifically that they're doing it this way so as to take care of everyone being laid off (severance and leftover PTO were mentioned), as opposed to cutting them off and leaving them with nothing. Which is what they'd have to do if they kept everyone on while waiting for the outcome of the Kickstarter. Also what NKD said; very, very few game developers are self-sufficient entities with the luxury of doing whatever they want. Hence inXile and Obsidian and Double Fine and etc., etc. turning to crowd-funding.
I read it (but thanks for immediately sinking to insults)...I just don't agree that laying people off is good for the employees. At least, nowhere near as good for them as a management team that planned and managed well enough to avoid doing so. Remember, my point was that massive layoffs are prima facie evidence of poor management.

But if you want to think otherwise, it's no skin off my nose.

(edited for grammar)
 
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30. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 14:10 jacobvandy
 
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 13:07:
Prez wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 09:01:
I'd back a Supreme Commander 3 kickstarter in a heartbeat but "Wildman"? As much as I admire Chris Taylor and GPG and hope they survive 'Wildman' is just not exciting to me in the least, so I can't see myself backing it.


Curiously, with the supposed freedom from publisher constraints that Kickstarter offers why wouldn't they be interested in making SC3, a crowd favorite.

Why wouldn't any of the AAA established developers try to capitalize on their best properties? Kickstarter is currently topical and seemingly profitable right now and with the very long lead times (probably longest lead times for any specific retail item save Yachts) you would think that SC3 would be one of those first projects to be offered.

To offer new and untested IP, as an established AAA developer, instead of your known good IP, is an unnecessary waste of time.

Yes, because real, passionate game developers have no creativity that they wish to express whatsoever! They love making the same game over and over again, that thing about publishers forcing them to do so is just a conspiracy theory!
 
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29. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 13:10 Joss
 
Doesn't anyone work out of their garages anymore to keep the overhead low?  
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28. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 13:07 Optional Nickname!
 
Prez wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 09:01:
I'd back a Supreme Commander 3 kickstarter in a heartbeat but "Wildman"? As much as I admire Chris Taylor and GPG and hope they survive 'Wildman' is just not exciting to me in the least, so I can't see myself backing it.


Curiously, with the supposed freedom from publisher constraints that Kickstarter offers why wouldn't they be interested in making SC3, a crowd favorite.

Why wouldn't any of the AAA established developers try to capitalize on their best properties? Kickstarter is currently topical and seemingly profitable right now and with the very long lead times (probably longest lead times for any specific retail item save Yachts) you would think that SC3 would be one of those first projects to be offered.

To offer new and untested IP, as an established AAA developer, instead of your known good IP, is an unnecessary waste of time.
 
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27. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 12:30 Dev
 
Its very common for game companies to lay off people between games, and re-hire them when games need a team to work on them.

This is actually GOOD of them and shows GOOD planning to do this before they run completely out of reserves, which would lead to them being bankrupt. Doing it before that point means they can continue until they get a game going (which they are hoping is wildman).


As opposed to someone like the APB devs, who budgeted to be broke at the game release after spending $100m, which basically meant they immediately went bankrupt.

Its very likely that MS's canceling of active development for age of empires online had something to do with this, since GPG is losing that income stream.

GPG is a proven games studio that has released successful games. They are more likely to succeed than a company with no history doing a kickstarter.
 
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26. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 09:26 Saboth
 
Ah well, I signed up and pledged. If any dev is worthy of helping out, it's these guys.  
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25. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 09:13 Dades
 
Saboth wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 09:11:
They got 1/5 of their funding in like 3 days. How's that underperforming?

These kickstarter things seem to go like crazy in the first and last days with little meaningful activity in between unless they're a relatively popular brand like double fine or whatever.

- DADES - This is a signature of my name, enjoy!
 
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24. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 09:11 Saboth
 
They got 1/5 of their funding in like 3 days. How's that underperforming?  
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23. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 09:01 Prez
 
I'd back a Supreme Commander 3 kickstarter in a heartbeat but "Wildman"? As much as I admire Chris Taylor and GPG and hope they survive 'Wildman' is just not exciting to me in the least, so I can't see myself backing it.  
Avatar 17185
 
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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22. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 08:57 McSterls
 
After watching the newest Kickstarter video and reading this article I've canceled my pledge for this game. Chris Taylors previous videos for this project all this week were full of enthusiasm - can't say much for someone who then fires their staff because his kickstarter didn't roar to completion like Planetary Annihilation or Oblivions new game (both of which I supported). Taylor gives it less then a week then lets everyone go - sounds like the kind of joker who wouldn't finish this game and keep my money. No thanks.  
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21. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 08:55 Steviepunk
 
Remember that GPG were developing Age Of Empires Online and it's additional content, so would have had a team dealing with that - however Microsoft announced that they are not developing any further content for the game and we don't know how much notice GPG got for this or whether this was part of a long term plan or whether it means they have cancelled other work that GPG would have been doing. Short notice that a team of people will have no more paid work to do can have quite an impact on an independant company.  
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20. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 03:56 Lord Tea
 
I doubt Wildman will reach the $1.1 mil goal. I won't pledge, I don't like the concept of this game, how it looks and, well, the fact that GPG is so deeply in trouble. Supreme Commander (and addons) was the last GPG game I bought, and they royally messed up SupCom 2, putting focus on consoles. There's a chance the same shit is gonna happen to Wildman too. No thanks.  
UPSA = United Police States of America
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19. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 03:26 m00t
 
I know Chris and a few other GPG guys personally and I have to say this is really hitting them hard. They're all real honest and fun people who've been trying their best to get projects out the door. Unfortunately the well being of the studio is not always a consideration for the publishers so sometimes projects never see the light of day. They're being very up front in the video and laying it out for people to see and make their own choices about what they want to do. Chris' first priority has always been to the people working at GPG and making sure they get what is due to them instead of risking the KS failing and then not being able to cover severance and PTO.

If this project seems at all interesting to you, please help out.
 
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18. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 02:27 jacobvandy
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 01:10:
and avoids screwing the employees.

In other words, you're talking out of your ass without RTFA. He says specifically that they're doing it this way so as to take care of everyone being laid off (severance and leftover PTO were mentioned), as opposed to cutting them off and leaving them with nothing. Which is what they'd have to do if they kept everyone on while waiting for the outcome of the Kickstarter. Also what NKD said; very, very few game developers are self-sufficient entities with the luxury of doing whatever they want. Hence inXile and Obsidian and Double Fine and etc., etc. turning to crowd-funding.
 
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17. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 01:50 NKD
 
Stormsinger wrote on Jan 19, 2013, 01:10:
I've no answer to that, but I will say that I'm not a fan of supporting businesses that have to resort to massive layoffs. I prefer management that takes a more conservative approaches to finances, and avoids screwing the employees.

But we have to keep in mind this is a game company, they shouldn't be judged identically to other businesses in terms of management. Game companies are to other companies what paycheck-to-paycheck just-keeping-food-on-the-table families are to more financially secure families.

Just the very nature of how they have to operate means they almost never build up huge amounts of cash-on-hand to carry them through tough times. They keep moving or they die. It's just very fast-paced and unpredictable, and unfortunately that means fast-paced and unpredictable layoffs.

This is why cash-grab MMOs and things like Steam exist. Or even hardware/first party publishing machines like Nintendo. Many game companies have realized that just making games will never give you a stable and successful company. You have to tap into some kind of alternate revenue stream if you want to be around for the long haul, because eventually you are going to fall and you need a parachute that isn't made out of empty hopes and dreams, but rather cash-on-hand.
 
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If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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16. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 01:10 Stormsinger
 
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 18, 2013, 22:45:
...purely because they're interpreting the layoffs as indication of a scam or poorly executed plan. They're taking a risk, sure, but I'm fairly certain it's a last resort that has been thought over way more than we'd ever realize.

I'd say it's crystal clear evidence of a poorly executed plan. A well executed plan wouldn't have had them running out of money, after all. The real question is, is the failure systemic, or can the company succeed if it just gets through this period. I've no answer to that, but I will say that I'm not a fan of supporting businesses that have to resort to massive layoffs. I prefer management that takes a more conservative approaches to finances, and avoids screwing the employees.
 
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15. Re: Gas Powered Games Layoffs Jan 19, 2013, 00:30 netnerd85
 
This all seems fishy to me.  
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