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Life is Strange dev Deck Nine Games hit with staff layoffs

Deck Nine's round of layoffs come months ahead of its upcoming release, The Expanse: A Telltale Series.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Alex Chen in the key art for Deck Nine's Life is Strange: True Colors.

On Friday, May 19, developer Deck Nine Games laid off an indeterminate number of staff. 

Narrative designer Elizabeth Ballou broke the news on Twitter, saying several "brilliant, kind, and talented coworkers" were let go. She further revealed that narrative leads elected to eliminate their own positions rather than cut their lower-level staff. 

"The leads on my team were given swords and chose to fall on them, laying themselves off instead of choosing among the rest of us," Ballou added. "I've never seen anyone in games do something that metal and I hope I never have to again." 

One member of the departing narrative team later corroborated Ballou's statement, saying she "stepped away voluntarily. A lead's first responsibility is to their team, and that was the best way to keep most of my people clear of the layoff wave."

Life is Strange devs

Previously known as Idol Minds, Deck Nine is best known for its contribution to the Life is Strange series. The Colorado developer took the reins from original creator DontNod starting with 2017's Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and continued it with 2021's Life is Strange: True Colors

The studio's next project is The Expanse: A Telltale Series in Julywhich is made in collaboration with the reborn Telltale Games. Game Developer has contacted Deck Nine for comment, and will update when a response is given. 

Update: Deck Nine told Game Developer that last week, it "was forced to lay off thirty amazing people." In its comment, it gave no reason for the layoffs (which studios often provide), but simply stated that those affected were "talented people who did nothing wrong."

"We wish them the very best in their careers and would love to work with them again."

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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