Layoffs rock THQ studios Kaos, Volition - Report

More than 30 let go from Homefront, Red Faction developers in New York City and Illinois, respectively.


Yesterday, Sony shuttered three studios, sending home hundreds in the process. Today, the story is similar, as THQ studios Kaos and Volition have been rocked with more than 30 layoffs.

THQ made cuts to two of its top studios this week.
THQ made cuts to two of its top studios this week.

THQ has confirmed to Gamasutra that Red Faction and Saints Row studio Volition sent 16 new and long-term employees home this week. The Champaign, Ill., studio is currently working on new installments of the Red Faction and Saints Row franchises, as well as Insane, a collaborative project between the studio and film star Guilliermo Del Toro. Following the round of layoffs, 220 employees remain at Volition, says Gamasutra.

"Steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern," THQ's statement reads. "The changes are not expected to affect any current or future titles in development with Volition."

Further, THQ told Gamasutra that the layoffs are nothing outside of regular activity for the publisher.

"We must adjust our workforce to fit the studio's current needs, which is a relatively common occurrence in the game development industry."

Also hit with layoffs this week was Homefront developer Kaos. The New York City studio released its near-future shooter on March 15. The game sold 375,000 units in North America on its launch day and racked up over a million in global sales during its debut week. According to the report, about 70 staffers remain at Kaos following the layoffs.

The first round of downloadable content for Homefront will arrive on the Xbox 360 first, and according to THQ, the layoffs will not affect the launch of that DLC or the Homefront sequel.

"Kaos has a dedicated team in place that will continue to support Homefront with an ongoing, robust DLC and content plan, as well as working on preproduction for future games," reads the statement.

For more on the titles mentioned above, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Red Faction: Armageddon, Saints Row: The Third, Insane, and Homefront.

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Avatar image for LoveSack

i had no idea Guilliermo Del Toro was working on a game collaboration, this is potentially exciting news.

Avatar image for ghstbstr

amerxenos76uk, You are obsiously new to gaming because I have played every game system released since the Pong and yes I am that old, and alot and I mean alot of games had issues over those years. There some games that were totally unplayable that actually had gamebreaking glitches that you couldn't finish the game. Also when games back then had issues you had to live with it because there wasn't a such thing called updates/patches to fix those issues. So you're lucky when a game company does decide to fix issues in their games.

Avatar image for peetowser

Imagine this 20 years ago : "-We just made this game absolutely nobody wanted boss, we still managed to sell a million copies the first week though... -A million??? ONLY A MILLION??? Some people must be held accountable!!! Some heads must fall!!! (we needed 3 mil of that crap sold to fit our predictions, man the accountant will be pissed at me...) -Wanna play a game of *Destroy All Workforce*? -Lock and load! Who cares as long as we still got the WWE cashcow! What are we adding this year? Oh yeah, we're bringing back stuff we took out 3 years ago!" Remember back when people made games when they had a good idea? Not when they needed a cushion for the first semester? I just feel bad for the crew newly arrived who'll be working on the Unemployment Row instead of the Saint one... Good luck guys!

Avatar image for salad10203

So the game sells like hotcakes and they layoff employees, am i missing something?

Avatar image for TheTrainer1980

@sulaymanqazi You talk about used games hurt the developers. Well they already got their money once. It's like buying a used car from someone and having to pay the dealership a cut for buying a car from the person you're buying from who got it from said dealership.

Avatar image for eriktkire

@Hansathan it's a shareholder thing.. they make stupid corporate promises, and if they don't meet that quota share prices start going down and they start considering it a loss. So people are losing their jobs because some Kotick wannabes are pushing profit over 'development'. Either they lost alot of money in overspending on promo costs or they really are just miserable pricks out to satisfy shareholders... either way this does alot of damage to THQ's reputation as one of the 'good' publishers in the industry.

Avatar image for Hansathan

How is selling a million copies in a week not selling well???

Avatar image for Dunbon

I know why theres layoffs at Kaos: Homefront didn't sell very well. Despite the incredibly obnoxious marketing on gamespot.

Avatar image for amerxenos76uk

its all very well laying staff off cuz they have finished their jobs but in all honesty how has their work been done since must games these days come out unfinished and require patches to fix bugs etc. shouldnt they use the extra time of sitting abouyt after a games completed tp play test it so that they can make sure the games are released on day one in a working condition.

Avatar image for amerxenos76uk

as with most big companies profit is much higher if you didnt have to pay staff. the more money you make imagine how much of that profit you can take in if you sack your production team behind it. thats how you reward hard work by reaping the profits

Avatar image for amerxenos76uk

trouble with home front is u have to buy it new to get anything out of it since the main single player game lasts less than 5 hours and if u buy it second hand you have to pay a tenner to play the mutliplayer cuz it requires the online pass code.

Avatar image for dreamforager

Homefront sells a million copies in a week and the developers are rewarded with layoffs? Seems like THQ sold enough copies of this game to keep these people employed.

Avatar image for ghstbstr

As long as the below statements still happen I am happy! "The first round of downloadable content for Homefront will arrive on the Xbox 360 first, and according to THQ, the layoffs will not affect the launch of that DLC or the Homefront sequel. "Kaos has a dedicated team in place that will continue to support Homefront with an ongoing, robust DLC and content plan, as well as working on preproduction for future games," reads the statement."

Avatar image for dman123_1

so we are just gonna blame the higher ups once again....

Avatar image for gbrading

RF: Armageddon certainly looks like it's on the right track, since they're keeping the destruction aspects of Guerrilla. A shame they've had to layoff staff.

Avatar image for sulaymanqazi

used games and piracy harm game developers majorly

Avatar image for StaticPenguin

I didn't think Volition was in a position to get hit with layoffs. Damn this economy.

Avatar image for godzillavskong

@James00715 Exactly my thoughts. Like a lot of the people also said up here, they were probably seeing all of that $$ that the COD franchise was raking in, and tried to create a carbon copy of that. Turned out to be a bad move. I've heard mixed things about Homefront. A few of my friends said it sucked, then a couple of random people I talked to said it was decent? Maybe I should just trust my buddies.

Avatar image for godzillavskong

How about these big CEOs or corporate guys taking a slight pay cut? I know that isn't how it works, but it is insane when you think about it. Let's say their profits are down 10% from last year, meaning they only grossed lets say 10 million in profit, instead of last years 20 million.So to make up for the loss they go and layoff a huge chunk of their lower end work force. Yet these big CEO's bonus checks are more than a lot of what those guys make in a year! I know there are investors, and it is all about turning a profit, and not going south with the numbers, but sometimes I think the higher ups should be held more accountable, or step up and take some of the heat, and help others keep their job. I guess in a perfect world that would happen.

Avatar image for Sins-of-Mosin

Not fired but laid off. There is a huge difference.

Avatar image for TheMoreYouOwn

The video game industry is a very turbulent one indeed. While it's incredibly rewarding, it's also a rollercoaster ride. All those looking to break into it, take note.

Avatar image for Philly04

A shame that more has to get fired. THQ needs to clean it's image and establish a better identity among the gaming and media community. It's hard to take it seriously as a great game publisher. Hopefully they are in a reformation of developing more promising releases.

Avatar image for The_Gaming_Baby

They are hired to make the game. After the game is completed they are let go. Why is this so surprising? They have finished their job and there is nothing else to do.

Avatar image for CheckYoStats

Everyone who worked on Homefront should be fired. That game is garbage.

Avatar image for anthonycg

@ \acasero44 That comment proves you don't know anything about game development. Do you even know what a dev is? :/

Avatar image for Pineapple_Head

I find it kinda funny that Volition in particular who has somewhat of an anti-corporatism message in it's game franchises, "Red Faction" and "Saints Row", are in the end screwed by their own corporate parent company. Those wanna-be communists in that studio need a reality check.

Avatar image for God_is_Andrew

Anyone else sick of seeing artists get fired after making a product and then we all watch as the evil corporate bastards profit off it?

Avatar image for Stonecutters908

Developers are going silly man. They see those COD sales numbers and they go nuts and just put out some half hearted FPS with an under developed concept to try to make a quick buck. I am surprised Red Faction's studio is laying people off because that game sells pretty well but I am not a fan of it either. The News of Volition laying people off is sad, I love Saints Row 2 and I am stoked for the 3rd one.

Avatar image for thisranks

I knew a person from THQ that played WOW. Nicest person you'd ever want to meet. I can only hope that he wasn't one of the victims, but if he wasn't it's still a shame for all those who are now unemployed..... Sign of the times sadly.

Avatar image for Crash_WL

I can only guess how stupid some people are. How can you be happy that some people got fired? Yes, I, too, am unhappy that I bought Homefront on day 1 and I'm still level 5 because I can't play until the fix is out. Yes, I do believe that the campaign could have been longer than 7 missions. But I'd prefer to give them the chance to fix the game and improve on a sequel that I'd buy, provided they got my trust with the fixes, over having them fired any day. Best of wishes to the unemployed developers, these are difficult times to be unemployed. And for those who wished for that, I hope you understand your stupidity and never get fired to get a taste of what it's like.

Avatar image for pszone

well i want thumbs down i dont care what about to say. K thq had no idea run a company they knew darksiders was a bad game. 2 they knew homefront not long enough so why pp lost there jobs because thq not telling them what to put i feel Thq another Activievision

Avatar image for Viron_Berserker

Darksiders was a horrible games acasero44. If I wanted to play a rip-off of God of War and Devil May Cry I'd play a Bayonetta, at least it's pretty and doesn't look like mud. And Homefront was actually good, up until all the CoD a**hats decided if it didn't have 7 flavors of SMGs they weren't gonna play it and that cripples the matchmaking when you can't get a game of sixteen people. The real problem is that games aren't releasing demos like they used to. Now it's just this beta crap which is usually platform exclusive to create nerd jealousy.

Avatar image for Breyant

It must really suck to be a video game dev. You work 2-5 years on a game that most likely is going to flop and your job is constantly at risk. I'm sure they don't get paid very well either.

Avatar image for luckjon

Can we haz Freespace 3? Or even FS2 Open on all platforms.

Avatar image for darkfox101

Gaming publishers always get it wrong.... Its not like a fast food restaurant or some sort of company that sells office supplies. Gaming is creativity, and you have to let that take its own course. You can't take the "logical" route. You have to be a gamer.. not a businessman. This is why Blizzard and valve are so successful and loved.

Avatar image for acasero44

@James00715 Oh i get it. Oh well if thats the case then i feel sorry for them since they were only following orders. But i thought about it because when Darksiders released nobody got fired because it was a good game. Now Junkfront is released a lot of people who got it want their money back and the ones who had the idea of making such a copy and paste shouldnt really be hired by other developers(if they got fired).

Avatar image for DarthVeng_basic

@acasero44 : Who is crying? Are you another person that calls other people's opinions "whining" and "crying"? Learn the difference.

Avatar image for DarthVeng_basic

@santinegrete : Ok, I shall. lol

Avatar image for blackace

This is normal for publishing companies who own studios with developers. If a large big projection game gets complete and the company doesn't have the additional work for all those people, they let them go. Usually another company will pick them up if they are starting a new game or the same company will call them back if a new project starts up. Developers know this is usually balance their fund so they can survive for at least the next 6-8 months while they look for work and collect unemployment. This is one of the thing that made me decide not to do gaming programming. Deadlines and working 16-20hrs a day were a couple more. I like to work at my own pace if at all possible.

Avatar image for Gruug

Wait a minute...unemployeement is down to 8.8 percent. How can this be happening?

Avatar image for James00715

@acasero44 The problem is the employees that are making the bad decisions (the executives at the top) are not getting fired. The people at the bottom who are doing the best they can with hard deadlines and no time off are the ones that lose their jobs when most of them have nothing to do with the game being bad.

Avatar image for rushisurf

@chibi-acer You're right. It also brings up the fact of our economy and how our government complains about not having enough money and they need to increase taxes. Well, if the politians would take a pay cut and stop buying extravagant houses and yachts then maybe that wouldn't be such a problem. But they don't want a pay cut, they want the people of the nation to suffer.

Avatar image for acasero44

Idk what people are crying about but i work in a company and when employees slack they get fired. EZ and simple. Junkfront was a copy and paste of Cod with big maps nothing more the game developers deserve to be laid off and better yet not get paid.

Avatar image for Balidanny

Volition lost 16 people but still have 220 on staff. That must have "Rocked" the studio to its foundations!!!!!!! Front page news!! Really. My sympathies do go out to those who lost their jobs, but this article it just trying to exaggerate the situation which in my opinion is in bad taste. Equivalent opposite headline would be "Gamasutra website posts 30 job openings in their jobs section, saves industry".

Avatar image for HaloPimp978

That sucks. Hope they find work soon, but the campain in Homefront could have been longer.

Avatar image for CitrusPulp

obviously the state of the economy is an april fools joke

Avatar image for THizzle7XU

I don't know why these are news stories. This is part of the ebb and flow of game development. Red Faction is nearing completion and there's no reason to have 20 people standing around doing nothing that already completed their work on the project.

Avatar image for jim4604

or have a 5% pay cut across the board or something. Sad to target just a few people that don't "seem needed". Now if the studio makes crappy games then they should be shutdown but if they are told what to make and what it has to be like then its not fair to blame it on them if it sucks really.

Avatar image for PcGamingRig

April Fools....? Please....? :P

Avatar image for raptures330

It is incredible how some industries get away so easily with taking their employees as nothing more than a "seasonal" expenditure. How can we expect anyone to produce quality material when the makers have a revolving door policy? You know you will be leaving at the end of the project. Why break your neck for it? Just pay your dues and onto the next project. This attitude in the industry will have consequences in the long term. I do not think this has anything to do with "recession" and more with "synergy in the backwards overflow."