Silicon Knights lays off 75% of studio - Report

Too Human, X-Men Destiny developer said to have undergone "massive layoffs," including entire human resources department.

In July, Ontario's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade gave provincial developer Silicon Knights a grant that it said would help the studio not only protect the 97 jobs it had at the time, but also add 80 more employees to its headcount. Yesterday, a report surfaced that the studio has not only failed to add those extra positions but, instead, instituted a round of layoffs.

Silicon Knights' most recent release was X-Men: Destiny.

According to a 1UP report this week, "sources close to the company" have confirmed a round of sweeping job cuts that have left the studio with a core team of just 25 employees. The report states that the entirety of the studio's human resources department was included in the layoffs.

Since 2000, Silicon Knights has released a total of four games. The most recent, X-Men: Destiny for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and DS, launched in September. The action game based on Marvel Comics' mutant superhero team was met with critical derision. Prior to that, Silicon Knights had produced 2008's Xbox 360-exclusive sci-fi action game Too Human, 2004's remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and 2002's Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

The studio has also had a handful of other projects that have not seen the light of day, including Siren in the Maelstrom (which the Canadian government funded at least in part) and a Sega project that never materialized. That game was also tied into a high-profile legal battle with Epic Games over Unreal Engine 3, in which Silicon Knights accused the engine maker of not properly supporting its licensees and Epic accused the studio of deriving its purportedly in-house engine from Unreal Engine 3.

As of press time, Silicon Knights had not responded to GameSpot's requests for comment.

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Discussion

111 comments
AtariKidX
AtariKidX

It is better for them to make a Legacy of Kain:Soulreaver sequel or a Soulreaver Trilogy HD collection.That it could be good.

clqtte
clqtte

more people out there looking for work............

goodemon
goodemon

I know I'm going to catch a lot of hate for this, but Too Human was such a crapfest, it was the beginning of the end for Silicon Knights... And for the record, Twin Snakes and Eternal Darkness were amazing!! They shouldnt have made such a fuss with Epic, that couldn't have been good for their rep. I hope they can create a new IP and reestablish the studio, Too Human could have been so much more if it wasn't trying to copy god of war and have such an AWFUL camera system

FLOWZMENTAL
FLOWZMENTAL

@beny_pimpster What are talking about Eternal Darkness was a great game. That game in itself gave SK the money it needed to make MGS: Twin Snakes also proving they could do it. Now I will say Eternal Darkness did take a long time to develop, and it paid off. Too Stupid NO. The X-Men game was just rushed (more than likely because of backlash from Too Stupid). Maybe this is what they need to find themselves again.

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

the only good game silicon knights only produced is metal gear solid twin snakes.............other than that crap titles :) feel sorry for the huge staff lay-offs . most of them will apply to Mc Dicks probably XD

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

Can't really say I'm sad to see Silicon Knights in trouble after the way they abandoned Too Human just after launch. They were very keen to talk about it and hype it before launch - then it got blasted by critics - and anyone from Silicon Knights were unavailable for comment. None of the planned DLC ever materialised - not a word from the devs about it. No patches were ever released, and minimal contact with the community. The 2 sequels which had been planned - again not a word. Strange then that Dyack was still keen to do a speech at the following E3 about game design, yet again was mysteriously silent when asked about Too Human.

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

This might sound cruel of me but I think its time to close shop. To be around for 20 years and only have 3 notable games which one of those is a remake of a great game is a sloppy track record.

enrique_marrodz
enrique_marrodz

Sadly, after their work at the GC nothing reached critical success. There is the rumor of an Eternal Darkness II but now I don't think it will happen unless they find a big name to produce it...

simon1812
simon1812

Kidding me? dont feel bad guys, thats like leaving the ship about to sink before the women and the children.

naomha1
naomha1

Totally enjoyed Too Human. It had its flaws, and should have been patched properly, but the gameplay was enjoyable and the story was better than I expected. Just wish they would have done the other two stories for Too Human and improved upon it instead of letting it vanish. Could have been a great arpg if tweaked a bit.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

its too bad to hear a studio I personally liked is failing like this... I absolutely enjoyed playing too human on the xbox360 and the metal gear solid game twin snakes as well. Eitherway I hope all the laid off employees luck on finding new prositions somewhere else...

loopy_101
loopy_101

Did anyone actually play the X-Men game by them? I can't say I even saw it in the stores near me.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Well when you release two completely subpar games that were complete and total failures it tends to have a negative effect. You know its bad when almost everyone on this site mutually agreed that X-men Destiny was gonna bomb.

PublicNuisance
PublicNuisance

While I try not to laugh at the misfortunes of others, I did get a laugh that the entire HR department were laid off.

namdar
namdar

I've been inside their offices a couple years ago... They are a good bunch of people.... I knew a network admin and a 3d animator there... Shame... I remember going to the bar with him after the 3rd day of Too Human being released... interesting conversation that was... LOL

MemberUnknown
MemberUnknown

@kmarrelly Not really, I was just pointing out that nobody seems to give credit to studios that try to be different. They created good games and these days no teenager plays them. Such a shame. And I ain't a person who has a huge ego so you can get that out of your system. @FreedomPrime I can actually respect you for playing these games as they are excellent. But then again they haven't made lots of products in order to stay alive. They are based in Canada and that isn't a huge hub of gaming so I am sure they came across problems. Fair enough they (members) are entitled to their own opinion, but have any of them actually played the games this company made? Some of the people here just jump on the bandwagon whenever they see a 5+ thumbed down comment. I am not saying they were wrong, but when I just wrote the comment I quickly saw 2 people disagree with me. And I was like, do you truly hate this company? Making games is a difficult and stress related activity. Try it. @BayHarbrButcher They can hate my comments if they want. But most people do it with good reason. Sometimes when I look around, I am wary that todays generation know what true gaming is all about. Oh well let us move on, I give these guys credit for what they have done, even if they have been making rubbish games for the past couple of years. And it is amusing to see people complain, because I have seen much worser on other forums.

Uloset
Uloset

And I thought wishing for a new game in the Eternal Darkness universe was a pipe dream before.

Agent_Kaliaver
Agent_Kaliaver

While I loved Too Human, even with its numerous... numerous faults. I still find this hilarious and feel bad about finding it hilarious. When you make games that bad it really isn't shocking when this news shows up.

kargion
kargion

Loved Too Human it was suppose to be a trilogy now we may never see how it turns out lol

Crash_WL
Crash_WL

I loved Too Human, and I found Twin Snakes to be too cinematic to be taken seriously, but appreciated the upscale in graphics etc. Truth is, though, that most of your games sucked. It's always to see people get sacked, but it's not like they put out quality games. The biggest problem was Dyack... Too bad we will most probably not see Too Human 2, which was not a rumor, Dyack confirmed it saying "the trilogy will end".

HAMMERCLAW
HAMMERCLAW

This should finally end those idiotic rumors of a Too Human sequel.

Kemutsemu
Kemutsemu

Can't say that I'm terribly surprised with this news.These guys had a heyday of about two games (and one of them wasn't even entirely their own), and that was more than seven years ago.

Brokenhope69
Brokenhope69

Damn, that's one doomed development studio.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

@MasterTheHero Silicon Knights didn't make Tomb Raider: Legend. Crystal Dynamics did for the XBOX, XBOX 360, PC, PS2, and even the belated Gamecube port.

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

Silicon Knights made Eternal Darkness!?! No way. They must have had a different company president at the time, or Hideo Kojima was shooting them advice as they were working on MGS: Twin Snakes.

maxwell97
maxwell97

@Gelugon_baat: What I'm getting at is that every company that needs government financing is, by definition, a failing company. There's plenty of cash with private investors, and they'd love to invest it in an enterprise that will make money. If a 100-person company with a decade-long history can't get private financing, it's because it's a bad investment. @makryu: I didn't say it was socialism, I said they were socialist/corporatist policies. I lump them together because fascism, socialism and communism are all aspects of the same general evil, which is state control of economic activity. Of course, some elements of this evil exist in nominally capitalist nations like the US and Canada, but that doesn't make it acceptable.

thetravman
thetravman

Aww, our chances of getting an Eternal Darkness sequel just got lower. I was just playing that game last night for Halloween. Remarkable game.

makryu
makryu

@maxwell97 If you think government subsidy to select sectors is socialism then you know nothing of what you're talking about. It is as much a part of capitalism as the illusion of a "free market". Go do your homework.

ebonyflame
ebonyflame

You know, I hate to cheer for layoffs and game studio closures but at this point in it's life, Silicon Knights is a fading shadow of it's once great promise from the N64 days gone by. Of all the games mentioned in this article made in the last decade, only Eternal Darkness and the Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes were good, but they were released on a system that had a fraction of the audience that PS2 had, which translate to miniscule sales. It is high time the likes of Nintendo, Sony, EA or Activision bought them or they just fade away in the background as I don't see them producing anything worth playing before they become completely irrelevant in the games marketplace.

Sniper-Gamer
Sniper-Gamer

I'm pulling for Silicon Knights to succeed since they're not too far from where I live. But they need to get their act together and make a decent game. Maybe a sequel to Eternal Darkness?

Superzone
Superzone

Not surprising. I mean seriously, who the heck wants to play an X-Men game where you don't actually play as the X-Men? Stupid idea, stupid game. I'm hoping these layoffs and hiring some new creative minds will bring Silicon Knights back to being awesome again, like they were when they developed Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

maxwell97
maxwell97

@Gelugon_baat: "I hope the Canadian government will see this only as an isolated incident and not rethink their programme to fund game-makers. They just need to do more research on prospective candidates." I couldn't disagree more. Government investing in a business will always fail. Private investors pick investments that are likely to actually make a return and be sustainable; if they screw up, they lose their own money. Politicians pick investments that will get them votes by "saving jobs" or "promoting environmental sustainability," and they have to do so by investing in bad companies - because good companies can get money from investors willingly, they don't need the government to steal it for them, and therefore there's no Solyndra photo op moment. Silicon Knights is a great example, really. It should have died before Canadian politicians threw away Canadian citizen's money on it. A nice illustration of why socialist/corporatist policies never work.

IAMTHEVIPQUEEN
IAMTHEVIPQUEEN

The only one who should be laid off is Denis Dyack

m4a5
m4a5

I suggest all who see my post check out the 1UP link in the article. It explains this situation MUCH better than GS (and there are things you might want to hear)

venasque
venasque

After the reviews of Xmen Destiny I thought something like this might happen. Even though the studio had some bombs and every did a remake or sequel to the much beloved Eternal Darkness, it's still sad to hear about lay offs. If there are 25 people left and they laid off 75% of the studio then that is 75 people now looking for work. I wish them all the best of luck. =(

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

This is sad since the company is in St Catherines Ontario - not far from where I live. But bomb after bomb, this was bound to happen. Too Human was actually a really fun game - the learning & difficulty curves were pretty steep though.

Marscaleb
Marscaleb

@deathknight107 Two? I count ONE good game and an offensively poor remake of one of the greatest games ever.

vault-boy
vault-boy

Considering they're the company that published Too Human, I can feel not pitty for them. When you promise a fantastic mythology based game and deliver with a half @$$ game with characters revolving around the description of Norse Mythology from what was in an 11th graders World History textbook you deserve to lose your job. Hell, if I ran the world than that would be punishable by being burned at the stake.

Marscaleb
Marscaleb

I don't know much about business, but Dilbert has taught me that the HR department is evil, so I do not mourn for its loss.

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

I know most people disliked Too Human but I actually really got into it.. But to be fair at the time I really wanted a loot grind game on the 360 and that satisfied my appetite. However some of the design decisions were lack luster.. ideas. I was hoping for a Too Human 2 that added more content and built on the game play and got rid of all the junk. Sadly I guess thats not gonna happen.

stailcookie
stailcookie

it's sad, but when you take valuable IP and use it to release xmd... They should have had a restructuring plan in place prior to the release date, not a month later as if they were waiting to see if their trash would sell...

whodagoose
whodagoose

Dennis Dyack is one of the worst game designers in the industry. Months ago (before XMD released) A little birdie told Silicon Knights that if they wanted to stay in business, they needed to hold a 'vote of no confidence' against Dennis Dyack and remove him from the company. Obviously, the employees didn't care enough about their jobs to stop Dennis Dyack from ruining X-men Destiny as well. #1 Rule of Good Video Game Design: DDWDDD DON'T DO WHAT DENNIS DYACK DOES

deathknight107
deathknight107

Sadly only two games were evn good and the other two were just flops

shakensparco
shakensparco

Why does Silicon Knights get so much credit for such sub-par games? I feel bad for those unemployed, but what else could have been expected?

kpolicoff
kpolicoff

If they REALLY wanted to try and make a quick buck and stay on their feet, they should have made a remake of soul reaver. That game was brilliant. If they were to have remade that game with new control, graphics, etc... I'm sure LOTS of people would have bought it. I would have loved to see soul reaver redone for the 3DS... as well as other systems.

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Have any of you actually played Too Human? Its not that bad, but like a lot of others have said it had the potential to be really great. I haven't played Legacy of Kain all that much but from what I've heard it focuses on the story aspect a lot, which is something so few devs. do today. Silicon Knights has my sympathy...

spotlifetv
spotlifetv

They have not created a good game in 10 years. They squandered "Too Human" and I have yet to try X-Men. I think their progammers or whoever developed their last two games are stuck in the mindset of developing for Nintendo. I mean the Graphics and animations in Too Human was barely tolerable. Out with the Old and In with the New! Silicon Knights are rusted bucket images of their former glory.