HighMoon Studio Layoffs

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Although I don't work there as of a couple months ago, I wanted to bring attention to the recent layoffs at Highmoon Studios (Activision). I owe alot of the stuff I've learned to some of the artists at that studio and this news breaks my heart. I was there for 3 years and I met some of the best and most talented people I think I will ever meet.

I really really hope that every single one of the people laid off today will find something good and stable.

http://kotaku.com/activision-lays-off-high-moon-studios-deadpool-team-466330803

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  • Avanthera
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    Damn, so they were let go after content lock? That really sucks. Good luck to those affected.
  • SouthpawSid
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    thanks Wes. It was a great place to call home for a short time :) Onto new things!
  • Orgoth02
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    Please do not buy or support this game. Everyone one you care about effecting if the game does bad has already been let go. The only people who stand to profit are the scumbags producers and studio heads. If you pay for this game you are only justifying the shit they did today as "ok" and it is not! I am sick and tired or seeing stories like this and nothing is going to change unless we do something about it.
  • PogoP
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    Sorry to hear it guys. This sorta stuff is never nice. Best of luck finding more work.
  • D4V1DC
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    Sad news good luck all hit by this storm.
  • KyleJensen
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    Terrible news. :(

    I hope everyone lands on their feet.
  • J0NNYquid
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    That's rough, a lot of good talent there, hopefully everyone lands on their feet.
  • ScudzAlmighty
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    Really shitty, sorry to all affected :(
  • GarageBay9
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    Avanthera wrote: »
    Damn, so they were let go after content lock? That really sucks. Good luck to those affected.

    I support a free labor market, but canning most of the studio after content lock is a Dick Move(tm). That's not the kind of thing that was done spur of the moment because of a major unforseen fiscal problem. Somebody planned that months ahead of time.
  • Justin Meisse
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    Orgoth02 wrote: »
    Please do not buy or support this game. Everyone one you care about effecting if the game does bad has already been let go. The only people who stand to profit are the scumbags producers and studio heads. If you pay for this game you are only justifying the shit they did today as "ok" and it is not! I am sick and tired or seeing stories like this and nothing is going to change unless we do something about it.

    If I got laid off and the game I worked hard to produce was boycotted that would be a double slap in the face.

    I would like to see a website that keeps a searchable database of all the layoffs in the game industry that can show you the odds of getting laid off at certain studios.
  • ErichWK
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    Awful. Awful awful awful. I loved the people when I worked at High Moon. So much talent, so much heart and passion. So much blood and sweat was poured into their games. Activision gave them a shitty situation and they handled it as good as anyone could. I hope The other team will stay safe for a few years, San Diego can't afford to lose more devs. But...this is the Evil Eye of Sauron we are talking about...
  • wester
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    It was unfortunately painfully obvious that it was going to happen. I don't know what I can or can't say as i'm afraid of the assassination ninjas of activision, but they practically told us it was going to happen. Just little things like budget cuts, time cuts, and then them saying "just finish the game as fast as possible".

    The team had just come back from comp time after working on deadpool. Either way it is a dick move because we tried as hard as we could with the very short deck of cards we were dealt by activision. As a result of their outdated business model, thinking that rushing a game through production and then cutting it's budget and time at the end...would in anyway profit was silly. And some of the best people (with families) have to pay for it.
  • Baj Singh
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    Shit like this really annoys me, particularly as it seems it was an Activision decision (and I'm sure they aren't struggling for cash thanks to CoD and its endless supply of map packs.

    Why not just consolidate the team into smaller teams for the purpose of R&D development? Get some ideas thrown around, focus on smaller ideas for games (mobile/browser-based/Xbox live) and use those as a basis to test new IP's. Minimal risk considering that they would be getting a better estimate on the potential of a new IP for a much smaller overhead rather than just putting millions into a game only to see it sell a mediocre amount.

    Investors and their one track minds :|
  • ErichWK
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    Don't forget this is the second game with forced restrictions, time, and budget they put on that poor team... coughtransformersthemoviecough. Budget cuts my ass. That studio has more money than god. Activision doesn't do R&D. They Do Call of Duty, Skylanders, and licensed titles. Blizzard is it's own thing. But the licensed titles are only to show investors they make a bunch of games.
  • ambershee
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    Orgoth02 wrote: »
    Please do not buy or support this game. Everyone one you care about effecting if the game does bad has already been let go. The only people who stand to profit are the scumbags producers and studio heads. If you pay for this game you are only justifying the shit they did today as "ok" and it is not! I am sick and tired or seeing stories like this and nothing is going to change unless we do something about it.

    I lost my previous job during the post Fable: The Journey layoffs. Same shit.

    I want people to buy that game. I didn't bust a nut for two years along with some 60 or so other people who also lost their jobs, only to sweep the achievement under the carpet.
  • Ace-Angel
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    Yeah, no, it's pretty much known at this point that Activision doesn't like to keep small teams around from other titles and dev teams, they will almost always Lock-n-Layoff you, if you're not part of the 'first' party dev teams working on flag-titles.

    Imagine Nintendo and it's Indie relationship in the past with non certified 3rd part dev's, that's how Activision is internally.

    Some people get lucky, and their team transition to a 'vouched' IP stance, giving them a chance a long term contract or a permanent position, before being assimilated into another core team.

    However, anything outside of those, yeah, it's very much a gamble.

    I guess the good thing about it is if you have friends, they will try and get your hired back on the next project, but I'm not sure how many people will like getting bounced back and forth from a high-ride success to unemployment position from the same place mutiple times.
    Orgoth02 wrote: »
    Please do not buy or support this game. Everyone one you care about effecting if the game does bad has already been let go. The only people who stand to profit are the scumbags producers and studio heads. If you pay for this game you are only justifying the shit they did today as "ok" and it is not! I am sick and tired or seeing stories like this and nothing is going to change unless we do something about it.

    That's a very slipper slope, if people don't buy the game, then the publisher will have no interest to making more, but they will instead sit on the IP.

    At the same time, do you really want to sweep years of work under the carpet? What about showing off your work and telling people what title you worked, to garner industry cred?

    Then there is the question of having layoffs vs. a total shut down of a team is better or not, since as I said, you can very easily get rehired back if you have the right friends at the time, etc. not to mention, the reinforcement that trying doesn't matter, so as a publish, just don't make other games.

    So it's really not so black and white, as much as we would like to think so, not buying a game can potentially cause more issues then solve them in the long term.

    Yeah, it's shitty, but maybe peeps who work in the industry, instead of talking and generating drama in places,could focus more on how we can improve the industry not in terms of medium, but how to make our jobs a batter place to work in without fear of losing it? Last I checked, happy dev's make better and more fullfilling games.
  • wester
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    The more people who buy these types of games, the more they'll make them. Just my view on this sort of situation.
  • Orgoth02
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    ambershee wrote: »
    I lost my previous job during the post Fable: The Journey layoffs. Same shit.

    I want people to buy that game. I didn't bust a nut for two years along with some 60 or so other people who also lost their jobs, only to sweep the achievement under the carpet.

    This is why this will keep happening over and over again. What you are effectively saying is "It's ok that you work me 60+ hours a week while only paying me for 40, then get rid of the team that made your game possible. I hope that everyone has a plan B for when this industry completely crashes.

    When a game that sells 1.5/2 million copies is considered to be a financial failure because it can't recoup it's development cost, what is going to happen with the next round of consoles, where development is expected to take even longer? The industry is becoming unsustainable and to risky for companies to have any bigger budgets.

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-02-25-industry-turmoil-worst-since-80s-crash-says-bleszinski

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/189595/Jade_Raymonds_been_thinking_about_the_future_of_AAA_games.php

    Btw I predict layoffs at Crystal Dynamics and Irrational Games in the next few weeks.
  • ae.
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    sucks to hear transformers was awesome! I hope publishers start realising that these type of games dont make money anymore people expect more nowadays.

    hopefully this drives activision and other pubs to focus on less licensed and more original IP.
  • ErichWK
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    Activision doesn't develop new original I.Ps.
  • gsokol
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    Aww man that sucks to hear. I hope everybody let go lands on their feet.
  • whats_true
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    Btw I predict layoffs at Crystal Dynamics and Irrational Games in the next few weeks.

    Thanks!
  • ae.
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    ErichWK wrote: »
    Activision doesn't develop new original I.Ps.

    I know skylanders is not too new but isn't that a new original IP? Also Bungies Destiny game is also a new one even though bungie is not owned by activision.
  • DeeKei
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    So I'm still new to this, but what does content-lock actually mean? I haven't been following the development for deadpool much so yeah.

    btw, good luck to the people who got laid off.
  • ErichWK
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    Sorry, what i meant to say, is from my sources who worked at activision since i left. ..is they changed their model to just do their current roster of titles only.
  • ScudzAlmighty
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    It means when all the content for the game is locked in. Same thing happened to us at RabbitHole (though we weren't working on anything so fancy as Deadpool). It happens to a lot of studio's where they have artists and whatnot who have finished their work on the game. Since they don't have anything definite to do for X amount of time the company lays them off to save money. Sometimes they get re-hired, some times the whole place gets shut down:(
  • Jeff Parrott
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    Damn sorry to hear. Sure everyone will land something better. Super talented group of people there.
  • ambershee
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    Orgoth02 wrote: »
    This is why this will keep happening over and over again. What you are effectively saying is "It's ok that you work me 60+ hours a week while only paying me for 40, then get rid of the team that made your game possible. I hope that everyone has a plan B for when this industry completely crashes.

    They'll do it anyway, successful product or not. The problem is that it makes quite a lot of business sense in terms of raw numbers to get rid of a large volume of developers, content creators in particular, once a project reaches a certain stage and they literally become redundant.

    The solution is to not make them redundant and ensure there's somewhere to go. Business raw numbers man sees two crossover projects as a waste of resources too.
  • David-J
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    ambershee wrote: »

    The solution is to not make them redundant and ensure there's somewhere to go. Business raw numbers man sees two crossover projects as a waste of resources too.

    This! I'm always amazed when management or whoever is in charge of this can't plan for having a project where people can move on after just shipping a game.
  • PixelMasher
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    the thing is if you cut loose the people who worked on a game, then you dont have to give them bonuses at all. if they move to another team, they are probably still elidgeible for a bonus because they are still with the company. I can see this being a reason for the current business model in the industry. the days of big ass bonuses are over lol. pretty much why i work little to no overtime.
  • skankerzero
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    When you're owned by a larger company, often times you have little to no input on what project you're going to work on next.

    You're just a number to them. A salary.
  • Cheez
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    For what its worth, we're hiring:
    http://www.bungie.net/en-us/AboutUs#!page=careers
  • wester
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    ---
  • GarageBay9
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    ae. wrote: »
    I know skylanders is not too new but isn't that a new original IP? Also Bungies Destiny game is also a new one even though bungie is not owned by activision.

    Skylanders is Spyro the Dragon with car batteries hooked up to it to make it twitch. So, no, not really. That was Insomniac's baby to begin with.
  • Bibendum
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    I would like to see a website that keeps a searchable database of all the layoffs in the game industry that can show you the odds of getting laid off at certain studios.
    I know this got glossed over but this is a really good idea.

    Could even start a leaderboard of studios with the most/least layoffs to give studios more accountability.

    When you consider how many people relocate their entire families for a job having that kind of information at hand would be really valuable.
  • reverendK
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    stay classy san diego. argh.
  • nyx702
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    Bibendum wrote: »
    I know this got glossed over but this is a really good idea.

    Could even start a leaderboard of studios with the most/least layoffs to give studios more accountability.

    When you consider how many people relocate their entire families for a job having that kind of information at hand would be really valuable.

    Seconded. This is a great idea. The question is how it would be updated and where the information would come from.

    Dustin Brown has this great database of studios. Might be able to build ontop of something like this.
  • Bibendum
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    nyx702 wrote: »
    Seconded. This is a great idea. The question is how it would be updated and where the information would come from.

    Dustin Brown has this great database of studios. Might be able to build ontop of something like this.
    Big studio layoffs are highly reported on so they'd be easy to track just through news sites like Gamasutra, but you could also do self-reporting through submissions like glassdoor or by tracking twitter.
  • bugo
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    Orgoth02 wrote: »
    Please do not buy or support this game. Everyone one you care about effecting if the game does bad has already been let go. The only people who stand to profit are the scumbags producers and studio heads. If you pay for this game you are only justifying the shit they did today as "ok" and it is not! I am sick and tired or seeing stories like this and nothing is going to change unless we do something about it.

    COMPLETELY AGREE, but just over polycount will not get the millions of players still purchasing it.
  • repete
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    Activision Publishing consistently works to align its costs with its revenues – this is an ongoing process

    Bollocks :thumbdown:
  • JDinges
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    I remember living in that awesome ATVI fear when working in their network. My heart goes out.

    343 Industries is looking for some peeps.
    http://www.microsoft-careers.com/go/343-Industries/190537/
  • kn0r
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    To any of the affected that might read this.

    Guerrilla Games is hiring :
    http://www.guerrilla-games.com/jobs
  • radiancef0rge
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    Bibendum wrote: »
    I know this got glossed over but this is a really good idea.

    Could even start a leaderboard of studios with the most/least layoffs to give studios more accountability.

    When you consider how many people relocate their entire families for a job having that kind of information at hand would be really valuable.

    this. it blows my mind how people can drop employees without a concern to their personal lives. its ridiculous.

    the state of things is pretty scary these days.
  • Overlord
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    It's a shame more game companies don't re-purpose these people into preproduction teams to generate new IP instead of giving them the pink slip.
  • Mark Dygert
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    Best of luck guys, I hope you land on your feet!
  • ambershee
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    Overlord wrote: »
    It's a shame more game companies don't re-purpose these people into preproduction teams to generate new IP instead of giving them the pink slip.

    Preproduction teams don't need 30+ artists and level designers.
  • Justin Meisse
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    ambershee wrote: »
    Preproduction teams don't need 30+ artists and level designers.

    That's why it's a good idea to either avoid "one game at a time" studios or be prepared to leave immediately after the game launches.
  • PixelMasher
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    yea...I pretty much treat each game im on as a film production, at any studio other than ubisoft I was applying to work elsewhere 2-3 months before shipping so I could have my options open and offers on the table, I find when you are employed people tend to put a rush on your HR stuff and also offer way better pay. although i guess anyone with a family and all that jazz its harder to relocate. hope everyone gets a kick ass new jobby.
  • nick2730
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    How many people actually remain employed after a game is done? I feel like they always release half the team
  • TrevorJ
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    nyx702 wrote: »
    Seconded. This is a great idea. The question is how it would be updated and where the information would come from.

    Dustin Brown has this great database of studios. Might be able to build ontop of something like this.

    There is also Glass door, if industry people really started using this it would work. Obviously you get a lot of just "angry people" lashing out after being fired, but some of it seems like it would be useful. Also the power of aggregated scores on companies could shine some light on one with a track record of practicing shitty management and frequent layoff rounds.

    http://www.glassdoor.ca/index.htm
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