Obsidian hit by layoffs - Report

Twitter, LinkedIn updates indicate Dungeon Seige III studio cuts unspecified number of staff in lead-up to game's June 21 release.

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When Obsidian Entertainment ships Dungeon Siege III in June, the independent shop will have reached the finish line on its slog to put out three games within 12 months (the other two being Alpha Protocol and Fallout: New Vegas). And as is often the case after a period of high activity, it appears as if Obsidian has rewarded its development team by enacting a round of layoffs.

Some Obsidian staffers won't be around for Dungeon Siege III's launch party.

According to the Twitter feeds of a handful of former Obsidian Entertainment staffers, the Irvine, California-based developer handed out pink slips last Wednesday. Akil Hooper, who served as a designer on Fallout: New Vegas, tweeted on Wednesday: "11 years, nearly a dozen shipped titles, Designer, Lead, Producer. 1 cancelled game, survived 7 layoffs, 8th got me. Not a bad track record."

As compiled in a post to Obsidian's official forums, Hooper's tweet was echoed by associate producer Jason Fader and QA tester Ashley Betters, with Justin Reynard expressing condolences to his onetime associates. A number of other former Obsidian employees--including Tess Treadwell, Joe Sanabria, and Jessica Johnson--have updated their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they no longer hold positions at the studio.

It is unclear how many employees have been impacted by the layoffs. Obsidian did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Discussion

109 comments
ProjektInsanity
ProjektInsanity

While I'm not apologizing for their indisputably buggy games, despite it all, I think there is some quality in this studio. It's unfortunate that it is often overshadowed by what I can only speculate is overambition, lack of funds, not enough staff/quality control, or whatever. Part of what makes video games great for me is an artfully crafted story, and Obsidian is one of the few developers that I believe "gets it". That being said, time will tell if they come back strong or become another cautionary tale. I, for one, am at least anticipating Dungeon Siege 3. I LOVE dungeon crawlers and it looks like a pretty well-crafted one. I'm skeptical about the lack of customization and the ATROCIOUS decision to follow a Fable 2 style online co-op, but it still looks promising.

samuel27950
samuel27950

It is a shame these people were layed off, but in this sort of industry its bound to happen sooner or later.

Eclipse935
Eclipse935

@DoomRider13 that's how the world works, and that's not what a hypocrite is haha you really are an idiot. People in the industry know that studios are a part time thing unless they're really important i.e. todd howard in bethesda, just like any job. Only a complete idiot thinks you work in the same company for 40 years until you retire. Either you're stuck in pre-recession america or are a complete idiot with no grasp of the world. probably the latter, or you're 12, that's always a valid option.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

if thats the way things work then it sounds like its a hard career to get into. being constantly hired and fired, always having to look for a new job whenever major projects are completed. remind me to never pursue this career, it'd screw me on child support payments, lol. but kudos to mr. hooper for taking his layoff so well. after working for obsidian for so long it must've been hard for him but he held his composure.

DoomRider13
DoomRider13

@Eclipse935 I hope you get fired from a company for the same reason someday! Enjoy your hypocrite life...!!

Eclipse935
Eclipse935

@DoomRider13 ahha that's hilarious, wow you really got worked up about that. More staff members are needed during the main production phase, once all you need is bug testing there's no need to keep a lot of the artists or designers since they'd just be sitting there. Every company does this, unless they're idiots. It's called business, something you obviously can't comprehend.

DoomRider13
DoomRider13

@Eclipse935 tell me about how development cycle work!! Come on little man, make your way to my trailer park and explain yourself !! Weak fat bastard!

Eclipse935
Eclipse935

@DoomRider13 what the hell are you on lol dumbass doesn't know how development cycles work. Go back to your trailer park.

James00715
James00715

I hope this isn't a sign that DS3 is not shaping up well. Some developers have done layoffs right before their game's release, and the game ends up being unpolished.

oneofthefall
oneofthefall

Sad news, im sorry for all who have lost there jobs, fallout new Vegas is a great game so hopefully some other company will scoop Akil Hooper up somewhere for his great talents that shouldn't be missed!

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Shame really. Though it might be the best that some of them are leaving. Obsidian certainly ain't the developer it used to be. Hopefully they all can land a job.

DoomRider13
DoomRider13

We live in a world where money comes before ethics!! Don't employ more than you can handle god damn it!! Obsidian a.k.a Bugsidian deserve to fail !!

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

Sucks the way this industry works - you slog your guts out working hard on a game, and just as it's about to hit the shelves they give you the news that you are no longer required :( Lets hope that the game turns out well and will get good support from Obsidian after launch.

svpaladin
svpaladin

Here's hoping Obsidian did the right thing when they hired these workers - said "we're trying to push out 3 titles in one year, which is why we need you. However, after this, we're not due to make anything else so you'll probably need a new job..."

KamikazeDonut
KamikazeDonut

Here's to hoping Dungeon Siege III does well (and isn't buggy as hell) so Obsidian can keep going.

RobertBowen
RobertBowen

Always sorry to hear about people getting laid off. I hope these people can find new jobs soon. As for Obsidian, I think they've had a somewhat rough ride in the past with tight deadlines, but the fact is they've been going for a while now, and you can't just keep blaming the publishers and being apologists for this studio when they keep releasing bug-ridden games. To me, that speaks of an underlying issue with either the quality of some of the talent hired by the studio, or the QA department (or both). And taking on three projects simultaneously to tight deadlines again - that just doesn't seem like a wise decision by the management either, unless they are seriously geared to ramping up production while maintaining quality. Other dev studios have found it hard in the past to juggle three projects, such as Raven Software. I just get the feeling that Obsidian is trying to run before it can walk, and their games are suffering as a consequence.

DavidStorm
DavidStorm

:( I just hope they bounce back at their feet, those poor people...but i wonder why these lay-offs took place since the article doesnt state that.

SwiftusMaximus
SwiftusMaximus

My heart goes out to employee's and their families. However ,personally ,i am fed up with Obsidian's games ,lack of polish and an exorbitant amount of bugs have steered me clear of this Developer.

Jorlen
Jorlen

Hopefully this won't affect patches / updates to the game post-release. As much as I liked Alpha Protocol and New Vegas, those games were buggy, in typical Obsidian fashion...

blueliquidplus
blueliquidplus

Sucks for the employees but seems par for the course with Obsidian.

hvypetals
hvypetals

hey thats the american business model. work everyone to death till their all used up, and then fire them and GET RICH!!! if anyone complains hire someone in vietnam to work for pennys on dollar and GET RICH!!!! yeah!!! normal workers get paid .2% raise if lucky no bonus of course and the CEO is putting the down payment on the CASTLE. Is this what our forefathers fought for? Meh Ill just go back to being the lowly worker bee. Can I have some more please suh?

HT89488
HT89488

Maybe now that they have freed up some money, they can focus on quality release titles. They have great ideas, they are just plagued with the most obvious bugs that seem to "slip" past quality testing. Fallout NewVegas is fun, NOW...but several months even after release they struggled to fix major issues with the game. I will continue to support them, I just wish they would release more solid titles, cause now I wait till after release with anything Beth, or Ob name written on it.

StaticPenguin
StaticPenguin

@Ultramarinus Obsidian makes real RPGs? When was the last time they did that? Hell, when was the last time they made a game that wasn't a buggy pile of mediocrity? Alpha protocol was a train wreck and Sega pushed that game back for more polish on the day of it's release. New Vegas was one of those shooters with a leveling system you just mentioned. That game was filled to the brim with bugs. If that's a real rpg to you then let's not forget that without Bethesda, they never would have made that.

franxrom1
franxrom1

The greedy corps use peoples to make them games,and after they sell that products layoff the staff.PLEASE suport this companies!!!!!

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

Fallout New Vegas was a great game. It's kind of sad that Obsidian are losing staff numbers.

TimeFrame
TimeFrame

I heard Alpha protocol actually is quite enjoyable from a like-minded friend of mind. I play Fallout New Vegas and I like it even more than Fallout 3 tbh. So all in all, damn shame. Good studio.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Layoff the whole freaking studio, those trashmakers!

Skullcandy
Skullcandy

Way too many layoffs in the gaming business. For an industry that makes more money than most Hollywood film companies, there seems to be an imbalance between profit and talent. So many people want to get into the gaming industry that companies are paying sub-par and keeping their fingers crossed that the guy they just hired at $6.50 an hour will produce the next big game. In a year they can fire him and shovel out his ideas to the masses for a few dollars. I see a gaming tower of Babylon about to fall.

scorpgul
scorpgul

the game will most likely fail anyway. I expect a 6/10 from both IGN and Gamespot

loopy_101
loopy_101

That sucks. Unlike most people, I liked Alpha Protocol. It may not be a typical Obsidian RPG but the game makes a solid action-adventure alternative to MGS, once you get past the DRM on the PC version anyway.

Targzissian
Targzissian

For those who've mentioned Fallout: New Vegas... Yeah, it was buggier than Fallout 3 when it was released, and the engine was essentially the same, but it is chock full of content, quests and open-world exploration. If they'd done better in squashing those bugs pre-release then perhaps they'd be in a better place financially, but I don't fault New Vegas for their troubles.

Dudka26
Dudka26

How long does it take from when a game is complete to hit store shelves... assuming they want to release the game right away?

Dudka26
Dudka26

Unfortunate that the economy is still hitting companies/people hard.

Prometheus
Prometheus

Oh, I actually remember "Tess" from the pre-release live demo of New Vegas.That's a shame, there aren't enough attractive women in gaming ;-) Anyway, I hope they all find new jobs soon.

Frost259
Frost259

Well when you try to make 3 games and they all suck you kinda deserve to lose some jobs. Alpha Pro...nuff said. Fallout New Vegas, all they did was take fallout 3, throw Vegas in some glitches and bugs and go. And btw those casinos were really boomin with excitement and games to play.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Someone will snap them up. If they're capable of handling a game as awesome as Fallout : NV was, they shouldn't have trouble finding work elsewhere. And before anyone whinges about all the bugs etc in that game - whinge on, because my own experience of it was nothing short of almost perfect. The only oddities I came across were things like the odd radscorpion stuck in the ground with it's tail flapping about above the surface. Hardly game-breaking and amusing if anything.... that was the PC version. Can't speak for the 360 or PS3 version as I haven't seen them.

pokecharm
pokecharm

wow, that os a telling tweet - give your all and still get laid off...the problem is that money isn't as plentiful as it used to be, every big gaming company, even regular companies, are getting hit - unfortunate, but if they're good, I'm sure these people will get picked up soon!

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

@ maxwell97 No, what you were describing were contractual workers. If Obsidian intended only for the people to complete one game or two, they should hire them as temporary workers and not full-time employees.

Insanecyclone
Insanecyclone

Well maybe if someone actually checked for bugs in their games. But, seriously, being laid off of any job sucks. Good luck to the ones that were.

X-RS
X-RS

GAMERALL knows whats up, publishers got too much control these days in the gaming industry. They rapin' everythang....

Veronity
Veronity

We cant expect good games while devs are doing their job at the edge of getting fired even if they make perfect game or a total crap game the layoff hit chance is 99% either way...

RossRichard
RossRichard

If it was whoever was in charge of finding and fixing bugs, good luck finding another job.

FMD129
FMD129

I love all the people saying "Oh no its going to be a rushed game"... DId you not read the first line? Literaly? 3 games in 1 year? Not for anything I didnt find any of them good either, Dungeon siege LOOKS okay so far. But what are you expecting? This is a perfect example of trying to rush and I bet everyday these employees had something in the back of their minds that this could happen. There are companies that only release a game, or two if their very lucky in a year, and please nobody mention Blizzard because while im in love with their games it doesent take a decade to release a single sequel that isnt revolutionary to the world and doesnt stops world hunger.

blkstr89
blkstr89

The Square Enix virus has hit :(

Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

@Raikoh_ Why open you ask? Because the world still needs real RPG games, not bad shooters/slashers with level-up systems.

StaticPenguin
StaticPenguin

The question is, why are Obsidian's doors still open?

jhcho2
jhcho2

This doesn't bode well. A bunch of layoffs just before the release of a game. Dungeon Siege 3 will potentially be a rushed game. If they can get themselves to terminate an 11-year long staff, their financial situation can't be good. This reminds me of the Blizzard North incident, and how their predicament back then affected the Diablo 3 which was in the works at that time. It never saw the light of day.