Major layoffs at Wild Man dev

Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor confirms 40 staff let go in round of layoffs that may result in termination of Kickstarter campaign.

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Just days after launching a Kickstarter campaign for a new RPG/RTS hybrid called Wild Man, developer Gas Powered Games has enacted a round of company-wide layoffs. CEO Chris Taylor confirmed the news to Polygon today.

"These layoffs are substantial, but it's not everyone," Taylor said. "We still have a fully functioning company, IT, HR, Operations, etc. And have retained some key people."

Taylor told Joystiq the layoffs total around 40 employees.

Taylor said he will release a Kickstarter video explaining the current situation to backers in the coming days. In this video he will ask supporters "if I should continue and then rehire people, or terminate the campaign now."

The Kickstarter campaign for Wild Man--asking for $1.1 million--went live on Monday. At press time, the fund stands at $175,000 pledged from more than 3,500 backers.

Taylor explained to GameSpot this week that he is betting the entire company's future on the success of Wild Man.

"Everything I have ever worked for in my entire career--in my entire life--it culminates in this one event," he said at the time. "I am absolutely all in. That's it. What victory is worth achieving if there's no consequence of failure?"

Discussion

84 comments
Vambran
Vambran

After reading news about this on various sites i have a theory that GPG used money meant for AOEO to work on Wildman.

Microsoft found out about it and fired them. Now they have no money and are blacklisted by most publishers , hence the desperate kickstarter. Just a theory.

Srg_Ducky
Srg_Ducky

Some much hate in these comments people. Makes me sad. Chris, Im sure you are doing what is the best for your people then the company. Doesn't help the company drowns and take EVERYONE with it.. Good luck Chris and everyone at GBG, will be picking up a copy of this to help out a bit ;) 

Stonedwolfed
Stonedwolfed

The only thing Chris Taylor ever did worth playing as Total Annihilation. And it's still worth playing. But everything from GPG has been "meh". Especially Supreme Commander.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

There a lot of hack and slash games being made these days..Some with flair an others flop miserably like diablo 3..Ya i noi flame me but i hated the damn game..Some of yall may like it but to me its way to short a game..Torchlight 2 was a far better game in (my book)  its how i feel..Than u got grim dawn im waiting on..An path of exile..So i guess chris is trying to get some thing different than dungeon siege out there gate...Hes wrong though if he thinks this is a evelutionary type of game..A hybrid rpg/stradegy game has been done before..So hes kind of deluted if he thinks its a new type of game..

nteger
nteger

Articles like these need to do a better job of reporting the reason why the layoffs happened. Many readers/possible backers are too lazy/ignorant to try to understand that the company cannot survive at full capacity until the game is funded. The links are good, but how many people actually click them and navigate to the video mentioned?

drgribb
drgribb

That's too bad.  Hope it all works out.  The Wildman game sounded pretty cool and I was sorta stoked for it, even though I couldn't afford to put any money down on the kickstarter

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Kickstarter = Star Citizen.  That game defnes what KS was made for,

blitzinD
blitzinD

I don't see enough difference between this game and many of the major devs offerings. Why risk donating money to a type of game that if you wait long enough a major dev will make something similar? Kickstarter should be for types of games that find it hard to get published or push the envelope of gaming innovation. If your standard vanilla RPG/RTS game isn't getting published maybe it's because it just isn't very good?

snugglebear
snugglebear

Well, when you fire that many people you need a well functioning HR department first and foremost. 

Victorious_Fize
Victorious_Fize

This is so stupid. Why in the world, would a responsible executive, put the lives of over 40 employee of his as well as his entire company, on one single project?

Signs of future failure right there, if it's not now, that is.

Small studios and indie developers are beginning to see unrealistic expectations from Kickstarter. Something I've feared.

naomha1
naomha1

I'm not quite sure why GPG couldn't get Dev money from somewhere else than besides Kickstarter. For starters, you're talking about the company that created Dungeon Siege 1 and 2, and SupCom 1 and 2. Both amazing games, both sold extremely well. While Wildman sounds ok, it doesn't nearly excite me as the prior DS's did or SupCom. With that being said, not sure why they wouldn't branch out a little more and update their portfolio with another DS or SupCom. While DS 3 wasn't done by GPG, I would love to see a DS4 done right. Chris Taylor is a great dev, and if Wildman is the absolute 'best' thing he has going on inside his head right now, then maybe he needs to take a break as well. It doesn't sound really 'epic' and it doesn't really look much better than all the other cookie cutter iOS games being made these days. GPG was always a PC game company. If Project Eternity could close with 4.3 million in cash, there is no reason GPG couldn't do the same with another fantastic RPG. These hybrid cross breeds these days get so annoying. Ante up for Dungeon Siege 4 and I'll put my money where my mouth is. Bigtime. 

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

Mission accomplished they got the word out about the kickstarter now if it fails I guess another one bites the dust lol.

Mr_BillGates
Mr_BillGates

Glad this failed. Games that disrespect traditional RTS genre like those crappy DOTA and LOL games should just die.

Will47
Will47

The game looked good enough from the Kickstarter vid. Better than most of what turns up on there, to bad it looks like they are already up to their necks.

Quandry
Quandry

It reminds me of Dota or League of legends. But for the Ipad.

blackace
blackace

I watched the video on Kickstarter. Game looks like it will be good and I would get a copy when it's done. There are so many Kickstarter projects going on right now, it's hard to keep up.

blackace
blackace

Well, I hope they get some more backers to keep the company afloat. I'm not going to back it because I'm already backing two other games that still aren't complete yet.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

I don't understand.  They had to know it was coming before they even made the Kickstarter.  So what was the point?

tgwolf
tgwolf

I would just assume that this is because there is not enough interest in ANOTHER ATTEMPT at this type of game...

megatronx2
megatronx2

Two comments by Gas Powered Games Employees from comments on article byEurogamer.net

I think it's worth checking out in forming an opinion, so i copied them here.

"MKHusker

8 hours ago

I was one of the people laid off from Gas Powered Games today. Chris Taylor is without a doubt the best boss that I have ever had. I will do whatever I can to help make the Wildman Kickstarter a success and to help GPG.

And to all the people who think this was all a plan by Chris just to keep the company afloat....you're right. To let people keep their jobs and make a great game for people to play. The gaming industry is really changing right now, and publishers are pulling the plug on projects left and right to save money. GPG is not some huge developer with loads of cash. When publishers cancel projects, developer employees lose their jobs. GPG is a small dev that Chris Taylor has poured his heart and soul into for the last 15 years, and kept the doors open when so many other developers closed theirs.

Thanks to all of you who have supported the Wildman campaign."

"doc82nd

9 hours ago

Chris Taylor hired me after I served in the military. Just some grunt who had a dream of making video games, and who had worked on a couple mods.. After I proved myself and showed my desire to learn, he bought me books and personally taught me how to code. I owe this man my career, because he took a bet on me. I'm not the only employee with a story like this either.

I'm asking you guys to take a bet on Chris so he can make us all an epic game!

You can't find a more genuine CEO than Chris Taylor, and a studio more transparent than Gas Powered Games. Please, go support this company and pledge on Wildman!"

JURGMANDR
JURGMANDR

hopefully wildman will still get made.

R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

Probably has something to do with the cancellation of more Age of Empires Online content, which GPG was working on :( 

Hurvl
Hurvl

It certainly seems like Wildman project will reach its funding goal, they're 19 % funded (214 000 dollars) with 27 days to go, so I wouldn't worry about the company going under. I liked the Dungeon Siege games from Gas Powered Games, but Wildman doesn't appeal to me.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

While the game looked interesting when I saw the Kickstarter the other day, it's news like this that really makes me suspicious of backing more projects.  The whole notion of Kickstarter relies on it being in good faith - you pay your money to support a project, in the hope that they will come through and deliver in whatever time period they state on their appeal.

But with companies in such dire staits using Kickstarter you really have to question whether the intention was to make the game or use the funds to eke out the company for another few months - afterall Kickstarter's responsibility ends at the point they hand over the cash.

King9999
King9999

It's unfortunate that people had to be let go, especially when it happened immediately after the Kickstarter launch.  That's not going to instill much confidence in the donators.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Chris made some fun games..Its sad his studio has come to this..Looks like a fun venture if it ever did get made..His day isnt over..If it is bless him an hopefully all his team will find homes quickly..Including chris..Im not sure why he just doesnt do what he does best..He tried that space game hack an slash and made it with no loot..Man was that game boring..THe public warned him also on it..What good is a hack and slash game with no loot..BORING..Well i wish chris the best and hopefull gas powered games can get this done..He just might its been known that the last few days of the kickstarter campaign are the vital days..He still can get backing for his game..

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

can't the CEO make a game by himself?

YYankee
YYankee

@WantYouBad You can blame the cash-grab pay-to-win style on Microsoft since they were the publisher. I'm sure if GPG had the freedom to make the game a non free to play game they would have done so. In a result the game would have been much better. Who knows what else Microsoft did to change the model from previous games that GPG didn't want to?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@blitzinD What major devs are offering a single player RTS/RPG experience right now?  DOTA2/HoN/LoL are all multiplayer-only.

Efix484
Efix484

@naomha1 Because Dev idea of what a good selling product is ruined most games how about that ill rather see them trying a kickstarter

Kreisher
Kreisher

@Mr_BillGatesI'm not sure what you're talking about.  DOTA, LOL and DemiGod weren't supposed to be traditional RTS games, they even have their own genre called MOBA.  As for GPG and RTS games - have you ever played Supreme Commander?  

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

@Thanatos2k It's still sad.  The more games being made the better, I hope this project succeeds.

edinko
edinko

Dont fall for this. They are posting this pathetic stories all over the internet. Its a try to emotionaly exploit gullible people to pledge based on this emotional exploitation.  Its the US train station beggar tactics

YYankee
YYankee

@megatronx2 Great find. So much heart in these comments. It really makes me want to up my pledge.

Dudeinator
Dudeinator

@DaneGamer 

His given reasoning is:

It's too much of a gamble to keep the entire staff because if Wildman doesn't hit the funding goal on Kickstarter, they won't get any money and they will have to shut down the studio. All the employees will then have to be let go, but they won't have any money to give out severance pay. If he lets 40 employees go now, he has less to pay if the project fails and he gives these 40 employees a head start in finding a new job.


All in all, it's a crappy situation for everyone involved. What I have a problem with is how he is putting the entire project's fate in the hands of his backers. Of course the people who visit his kickstarter page will say "yes keep going" because those are the people who are interested in the project to begin with. The backers don't have to deal with the same magnitude of consequences that Taylor faces, so it's just stupid to leave such a big decision to people who might not necessarily understand all that's involved.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@DaneGamer That's the gaming industry.  You hire the people you need to get a game done with the funding you have available.  If EA has given you $30 million to do a game, you hire a bigger staff and keep them around for longer.  If you're doing a Kickstarter game for just $1.5 million then you reduce the staff and do the game quicker.

In some industries you find jobs that fit the size of your company.  In this one, you're sizing the company to fit the job.

King9999
King9999

@bongsyas_23 Making games is a lot of work.  He probably could, but it would be more feasible to have a team, assuming this Wild Man game is going to be a large project.

Stonedwolfed
Stonedwolfed

@ExplosivePants Correct. Elite Dangerous is the only ting I have Kickstarted, and probably the only thing I ever will.

Stonedwolfed
Stonedwolfed

@Zloth2

Elite was made by two men. But it was in about 30K of memory. The modern version requires a full team - graphics engine, network code, gameplay, etc.


King9999
King9999

@Zloth2 @King9999 @bongsyas_23 Sure, but games were simpler back then.  A lot of people were making games by themselves in those days.  There's no way a single person could make a game like, say, Dark Souls, and complete it in a reasonable amount of time.  Did you know that Cave Story was created by one guy?  It took him more than five years to finish it.  The larger the scope of a game, the longer it'll take to complete, hence the need for a team.