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Firesprite lays off Horizon director Alex Barnes

Barnes worked at Firespite for seven years, and called his time on Horizon: Call of the Mountain "the honor of a lifetime."

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read
Key art for Firesprite's Horizon: Call of the Mountain.
Image via Firesprite/PlayStation.

At a Glance

  • Beyond staff redundancies, Firesprite had canceled is TWisted Metal project following SIE's reevaluation of its operations.

Layoffs have hit PlayStation subsidiary Firesprite, which let go of game director Alex Barnes today. At time of writing, the exact number of affected staff (him included) is unclear.

Barnes, who'd been with the company for seven years, directed its 2023 game Horizon: Call of the Mountain. On Twitter, he called it a "tough time" in recent months, while thanking those who've "continued helping each other through all this."

In February, Sony Interactive Entertainment announced its plans to cut 900 jobs as part of a reevaluation of its operations. Along with Firesprite, Sony London, Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games were hit with redundancies or fully shut down.

Firesprite's Twisted Metal was a casualty

Beyond the layoffs, Firesprite's next project was reportedly canceled as part of the reevaluation. It's claimed the UK studio was making a new live-service Twisted Metal game that was said to be in early development.

"[Everyone] at Firesprite and Guerrilla that pulled together to build Call of the Mountain were some of the most talented and dedicated developers I've had the pleasure to work with," continued Barnes. "It's been the honor of a lifetime to have been a Game Director with a team like this."

Before SIE made the layoff call in February, it was alleged Firesprite suffered an "alarming" staff exodus. Former staff accused two unnamed senior leaders of sexual discrimination, and the studio broadly of a toxic work culture.

One ex-employee wrote a Glassdoor review claiming the developer's culture "completely nosedived. Shame that what was previously a fantastic place to work has been so destroyed."

The blame was levied at the then-new studio heads, along with Sony itself. Firesprite staff reportedly speculated Sony ousted the original founders, and further doomed the company with "death by a thousand cuts."

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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