Dreadnought co-developer Six Foot has reportedly offered 45 developers a choice between being laid off or taking unpaid leave for an undetermined period of time, according to a detailed report from Game Informer.
The layoffs come mere days after the studio released the Steam version of Dreadnought and, according to sources speaking to Game Informer, are the result of both longstanding money issues and lower-than-expected sales of the PC version.
Days after the game’s release, 45 members of the studio’s team were told that they could either take an unpaid lead of absence and return to the studio when and if Dreadnought became profitable down the line or be laid off. Those employees, say sources, were given until 10:00 AM on October 17 to decide, and were laid off if no response was received by that deadline.
The report states that Six Foot kept its team in the loop about the company’s struggling financial situation as early as this summer, with CEO Matt Ballesteros telling staff that, at the time, the company only had enough in its coffers to guarantee pay until mid-October.
"It cost about $400,000 for the last blitz/crunch/push to get Dreadnought launched on Steam," one source told Game Informer. "Paying everyone in general costs about $80,000 a day. The game has not made anywhere near that; I do not recall the exact number, but it was less than $20,000 a day.”
We’ve reached out to Six Foot for confirmation and will update this story following a reply. If you or someone you know has been affected by these layoffs, you can email Gamasutra to share your story confidentially.
Update: Six Foot has confirmed those earlier reports of layoffs, noting that the decision ultimately affected around one-third of the game developers working at the studio. The company also notes 65 staff remain on the Dreadnaught team to continue development on the live game. The full statement from Six Foot COO Christian Svensson can be found below:
"In August, Six Foot informed its staff of the upcoming potential for major changes to our company structure, including continued development of Dreadnought as a live product. Everyone on the games team was given the option to stay on and continue working or begin searching for other opportunities with the full support of the company and the aid of our staffing team, while still receiving pay in the interim. New updates on the company’s status were delivered to the full team every two weeks from there.
"Today we regrettably confirm a reduction of about a third of our Game Dev workforce. We’re continuing to make available the full resources of our Company to try to help those affected and their families land on their feet as quickly as possible.
"We remain committed to Dreadnought's ongoing development, growth, and the pursuit of new projects. We are also dedicated to remaining active in helping our affected family to transition as smoothly as possible."