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Phoenix Labs lays off staff, cancels games in major restructuring

Update: The studio behind Dauntless and Fae Farm has laid off an unknown number of employees and cancelled a game "mere weeks" away from launching in Early Access.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

May 16, 2024

2 Min Read
A monster from Dauntless roars at the sky.
Image via Phoenix Labs.

At a Glance

  • The studio behind Dauntless and Fae Farm has laid off an unknown number of employees.
  • It also cancelled a game weeks away from launching in Early Access.
  • One employee on LinkedIn said the studio has "shut down."

Phoenix Labs appears to be executing another round of layoffs, eliminating what may be over 100 employees. Former employees on LinkedIn are reporting the loss of their jobs and stating that all projects in development have been cancelled.

Word of the layoffs also comes from Polygon senior reporter Nicole Carpenter, who says some laid-off developers mentioned they were laid off during a mass Zoom call.

Phoenix Labs has now confirmed that it laid off employees earlier today. The company wrote in a statement that it did so to "focus on our best-in-class live service titles, Dauntless and Fae Farm, and serving their communities."

The company said this restructuring is a "last restore to ensure Phoenix Labs can survive, and thrive in the long term."

On LinkedIn, former principal engineer Kris Morness said the layoffs were ordered Phoenix Labs owner Forte. The blockchain platform apparently acquired Phoenix Labs "over a year ago" in an unpublicized transaction. He corroborated a post from former UX lead Noah Watkins that said the studio's next game was just a few weeks away from being announced.

Watkins said that game was "weeks away" from launching in Early Access.

Why is Phoenix Labs laying off employees?

Phoenix Labs spent 2023 wrestling with major organizational changes, culminating in a series of layoffs in May and December. The layoffs in May followed the company breaking away from parent company Garena, developers of Garena Free Fire.

Lining up that timeline with Morness' claim about Forte, it seems likely that the blockchain platform was a key part of the shift in ownership. It's unknown why its involvement wasn't publicized.

Phoenix Labs did not address this purchase in its announcement.

In September, CEO Jesse Houston and COO Jeanne-Marie Owens stepped down from their roles for "personal reasons." At the time, Houston stated that "the future has never looked brighter" for Phoenix Labs. He praised the "amazing pipeline" of games in development.

It now seems that pipeline has been closed off. This is of course another in a long line of game industry layoffs that have led to thousands of workers losing their jobs since the start of 2023.

Update 5/16: This story has been updated with confirmation from Phoenix Labs about ongoing layoffs.

Game Developer has reached out to Phoenix Labs for comment and will update this story when a response is issued.

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About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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