Red Dead Redemption studio cuts headcount

Rockstar confirms staff reductions at its San Diego shop following release of quintuple-platinum Western, cites realignment of resources.

Rockstar San Diego scored a substantial hit with Red Dead Redemption, garnering rapt critical praise and selling some 5 million units worldwide within a month of its May 18 debut. In the US alone, the action adventure Western shifted 945,900 units on the Xbox 360 at retail during its first month on store shelves, with the PlayStation 3 edition selling an additional 567,100 copies. However, strong sales and positive reviews haven't saved the studio from layoffs.

Red Dead Redemption vets have ridden off into the sunset.

Rockstar has confirmed for GameSpot that it has enacted a round of layoffs at its San Diego studio following the launch of Red Dead Redemption. According to the Take-Two subsidiary, the layoffs were a result of the studio wrapping development on its latest blockbuster game.

"As is typical with game development, our team sizes have always fluctuated over the course of the development cycle," Rockstar San Diego studio manager Steve Martin said in a statement. "As Rockstar San Diego transitions from the launch of Red Dead Redemption onto future projects, we are realigning our resources in order to continue to develop games as effectively as possible."

"We are ensuring that all employees who are affected by these changes are being treated with care," Martin continued. "While we have no announcements to make regarding a sequel to Red Dead Redemption, the team here are hard at work on the development of downloadable content for the game."

Rockstar did not indicate how many employees were affected by the layoffs. However, it is not the only Take-Two-owned studio to experience downsizing in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the publisher trimmed about 20 positions from Civilization V developer Firaxis, also in an effort to "realign its development resources."

The Rockstar San Diego layoffs also follow on from reports of oppressive working conditions at the studio. In January, someone claiming to be the spouse of a Rockstar San Diego employee accused the shop of a number of quality-of-life offenses, including forcing its employees to work extended hours at least six days a week. This touched off a flurry of rumors that the Midnight Club racing series had been canceled.

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83 comments
JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

I think it'd be a good idea for these guys to band together and start their own development company, not unlike what Infinity Ward did with Respawn Entertainment. Basically, hopefully they come up with a kick-a$$ new IP--only this time keep the intellectual rights, partner with another major publisher (like EA or whoever), and stick it to Take 2 and Rockstar. Make em regret even thinking about letting you go after making billions for the company.

Sky-
Sky-

"We are ensuring that all employees who are affected by these changes are being treated with care." They must have made sure that the door didn't hit their asses on the way out. That's pretty low, Rockstar.

jjarvis92
jjarvis92

it seems that the rdr team will ride the dlc gravy train for a while. i hope the dlc is worth it (zombies?).

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ GBPackersrule So cause RDR sold better on console that has been out a year longer so has sold more consoles and the figures are based on the Xboxs home turf where it's more popular your claiming that as a victory? And your ignoring global sales as well seem a bit stupid to me but oh well And again your comparing an fps to other games like god of war and uncharted which is also very dumb with that basis you could compare it to pokemon but most games would lose to that sure it's better then killzone and resistance (I have one of each console and I enjoy halo) but that cause it's got a great multiplayer to keep it alive and reach will probally be the same but how about name another great game instead of riding halo?

AceBalls
AceBalls

They got layed off eh? How much did they get paid? The ol' goodbye award wage? It's too vague and it sucks. I hope they charge triple the next time they're called up for Grand Theft Auto 5..

bsnimunf
bsnimunf

Contract work has always been like this. You work on a project till its done then you lose your job and have to reapply for a job on another project. If rockstar dont have a project for the staff to work on then they are not going to keep paying their wages. When the works done its time to move on. Many industries are like this research, engineering, construction etc people workin in those industries just see it as the nature of their work, the advantage being when there is high demand they name their price.

geoff-uk123
geoff-uk123

I don't understand why they were layed-off, but at least they got payed.

slavik700
slavik700

Karmazyn, hard working people got paid for their hard work. Seriously... You guys don't even know how the simplest things work. These people didn't work for free - they got paid. What's the beef?

Karmazyn
Karmazyn

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Karmazyn
Karmazyn

That is a great reward for more than 5 million copies sold. Great ultra rich CEOs, board members, management is counting profits and hard working people who contributed to the success are being disposed of their job. It is disgusting !

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

This is the thanks the employees got for a job well done. As much as video games are my life, I sure do hate the industry.

slavik700
slavik700

AceBalls, actually you don't. If there's no work for these developers to do - there's no point of keeping them around. They are employees. That's how business works. If you have a project that will turn you a profit - you hire people to bring it to a conclusion. If you don't have such a project - there's no sense of keeping these people on a payroll. The same way that you won't keep paying your mechanic after he's done fixing your car. I am hoping that all these posters are young and thus don't understand the simple concepts of business.

anti-altair16
anti-altair16

@JLCrogue I know that. I'm just saying that people would prefer a multiplatform game on 360 then a ps3. I know I do. I still prefer ps3 over 360 though. I play online on both but I prefer to play online on 360 then ps3.

AceBalls
AceBalls

"economical infrastracture" The game sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Laying off staff is clearly the most disgusting pathetic and downright greedy rude thing to do. Rockstar can go to hell. Believe me, I understand what they are doing.

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@AceBalls I don't think you understand the workings behind it all; it's always easy to point the accusing finger at some corporation because you only base your case on what you read. I would be a little more careful; it's not like anyone's having an easy time in this day and age concerning economical infrastructure or lack thereof.

AceBalls
AceBalls

I hate Rockstar for doing this to their artists. It sucks so bad that after all those sales, they still find a way to rip their workers hearts out like that. That's the last Rockstar game I'm ever going to purchase.

Peetchx
Peetchx

There are some motives why it sells a lot more on xbox360 besides those ones... i live in brazil, xbox350 is waaaay cheaper than ps3 over here.. so it also sells a lot more games... our selling numbers aren't so expressive, but if you count hundreds of countries in the same situation, it can explain why xbox sells more... i own a ps3, over here everybody prefers ps3 over 360 BUT everybody owns a 360... just do the math. I'm not a fanboy by the way, and i'm not black, or poor, or a guy without education as everybody thinks about us.. i'm just giving you another perspective for those selling numbers. Another reason is the HUGE selling of piracy games around here!

Inconnux
Inconnux

@SalarianChemist They get layed off because there are hundreds of people just out of school who would love to do that job and are willing to work for less... finish a project and get rid of the extra people, no worries, there are always tons of grads who would give their left arm to work on the next project.

GBPackersrule
GBPackersrule

@Sirbobislost I don't live in Europe or Japan. Why would I possibly care about there sales? Halo 3, you know? "The only one I can come up with" has sold more than Uncharted 1+2, Resistance 1+2, Killzone 2, and God of War 3 combined. The fact is, Halo sells like hotcakes. If you really think Halo Reach isn't going to top GOW3, then you are the fanboy, not me. I don't care for Halo, but I'm not as ignorant as you are. I don't have to mention other exclusives. The fact that RDR sold better on the 360 is enough proof. Your going to report this for "intending solely to offend or annoy users" but I preach the truth. It must suck having Cranium-Rectal Inversion. I hope they can cure you.

SalarianChemist
SalarianChemist

Ya know, I just don't understand the financial logic or the business reasoning behind this decision. Stop and think about how Red Dead Redemption did not receive any of the "Preview hype" that games like Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Gears of War, or Call of Duty do. Stop and think about how Red Dead Redemption was actually put on the front page of USA Today because of the fact that it was such a huge sales success at the retail level. The simple fact of the matter is that Red Dead Redemption is one of the highest rated games of the year for 2010, and one of the highest rated games this generation. In fact, Red Dead Redemption is one of the highest rated games in videogame history! From a personal point of view, Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of the year so far, but Red Dead Redemption is tied for first place with Crackdown 2 in terms of the best game in the "sandbox" genre. I just don't see how the developers of Red Dead Redemption could exceed performance expectations and sales expectations by such a huge margin and still end up being fired. The simple fact in business is that people are the most valuable asset. When you have skilled workers the quality will always find a way of revealing itself. Bottom line: These workers deserve to be rewarded, not fired.

missonrs
missonrs

more people getting fired? *sigh* this is getting sad that almost everyday a good company fires it's hard working employees.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

What? Rockstar would never do something like this..... And yes, yes I did consume several mind altering substances before coming to this conclusion.

slavik700
slavik700

What's the big deal? If you hire a guy to mow your lawn, you don't keep him around after the job is done and there's nothing else to do, right? WarPrime, "Wouldn't want to share the profits with the people who made the game" - that makes no sense. The people who got laid off are employees - not partners. Why would they be entitled to a share of profits? What if the company lost money on this project? Would these employees then be liable for debts out of their own pocket?

Goldrock
Goldrock

typical see alot of this in game companys now get a really big hit reap the cash lay half the employees off.

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

Anyone want to guess where I will not be applying for a job at?

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

"Excellent work, guys! Oh, and also, you're fired."

threedown
threedown

business as usual... nothing unusual going on here

PS3callofduty
PS3callofduty

Why cant we hear some good news. Like Robert Kotick gets fired! That would be great :D

WarPrime
WarPrime

Wouldn't want to share the profits with the people who made the game, so they fired them...real Nice. Rockstar can go suck it!

Oozyrat
Oozyrat

It's a shame really. All of the time making such a wonderful game and then they get fired :( . Well, at least they got paid for making it. Also, you have to think on the other side - yeah, the game has sold around 1.5 million copies, but it also (supposedly) cost them $10m to make the game. So even if the game is really successful, and you've gained more money than it took to make the game, you still might need to make cuts. However, no matter how you look at it, it seems that there is no way Rockstar can rationalize or stray from the fact that they treated their employees unfairly.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

StiffZombie
StiffZombie

This is bull****. RDR riding high in June, followed by RDR laying people off. Capitalism at its best.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Now this sucks!!! They made a epic game lose take the loss and keep that team together!! this blows. Mentioning things like this hurts moral and ulimately the future games.

youngblood97
youngblood97

Another reason why I would never work in the gaming industry. Read Masters of Doom it is a great insight into how people are treated in this industry. If you want to work 60-80hrs a week with no over time and then get laid off at the drop of a hat to get your name on the credit of a game be my guest. And trust me when you account for all the hours, stress and other factors you aren't making much.

Chickenesta
Chickenesta

What!? why is this news, the article even points it out, game studios always lay off staff after release its standard practice, its how the industry works and why so many of our beloved game designers have such big CV's.

Ozzie234
Ozzie234

The ps3 lower attach rate is because a) older audience compared to 360 b) people use the ps3 as a multimedia center, many just to watch blu-ray movies

Hellknite190
Hellknite190

I like the game, but I hate how they took out features that should have been in the game to start off with such as a load of free roam activities and charging you for them later as DLC. Very unimpressed.

Johny_47
Johny_47

"As is typical with game development, our team sizes have always fluctuated over the course of the development cycle" I just hope they have enough of a team left to bring Red Dead Redemtion to PC =D I really want to play that, shame people had to be 'let go' but as they say 'their portfolio will be awesome' because they worked on this game so won't have trouble finding other good games to work on.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

@RollsRoyce07 Obama is still president. As for the story, I guess it doesn't really matter how successful your game is, layoffs are inevitable. And it probably has something to do with the spouse complaining about quality of life offenses.

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

These guys now have Red Dead Redemption in their work history. They're gonna do okay :)

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

@ GBPackersrule Can I point out that your original stupid fan boy you've missed the fact it says "US sales" Why don't you go check the Europe and Japanese sales and then try and post a stupid fan boy comment. Oh and lol at "not being a fanboy" I love how the only xbox exclusive you can come out with is halo what about the others? Sure I agree I prefer halo over killzone and resistance but comparing it to gow is just dumb

cadahnic1
cadahnic1

Driscoal is right, this is how video game development works. You get to work on a game and you make pretty good money for the programming cycle. Then you look for your next gig.

VidGamAnonymous
VidGamAnonymous

Martin continued "While we have no announcements to make regarding a sequel to Red Dead Redemption..." WTF!!!!!

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

so what they rehire them when they decide to make sequel

suddenTwist--
suddenTwist--

Bang out of order the game is superb in everyway they should be receiving bonuses not P45’s. Can’t imagine how those people are feeling they pushed themselves so hard to get the game gold then thanks a lot guys by the way YOUR SACKED. I would be so vex. To who ever was let go feel you guys.

Driscoal
Driscoal

Video game production cycle 101. This isn't news.

giedrius1001
giedrius1001

@Wardrift actually pc versions is the shi**iest one. first you have to wait longer then console version, second remember gta3, san andreas problems with performance and most important gta4, who was practically unplayable at release date on pc, and had hundreds of glitches and bugs and requirements was twice bigger then crysis :D

Barighm
Barighm

Employees involved in the creation of mega hit game expect pay increases. Corporations don't like giving their employees more money, so they lay them off. This has nothing to do with efficiency or realigning resources.