Tim Schafer: hire-and-fire cycle bad for industry

Double Fine president laments layoff culture, says studio could have shed devs after Psychonauts to save money, but decided against it to maintain company cohesion.


Double Fine president Tim Schafer is none too pleased with the culture of layoffs in the industry. Speaking to Wired, the Psychonauts and Brutal Legend designer lamented some studios' decision to sack a portion of its staff following the completion of a game.

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"One of the most frustrating things about the games industry is that teams of people come together to make a game, and maybe they struggle and make mistakes along the way, but by the end of the game they've learned a lot," he said. "And this is usually when they are disbanded. Instead of being allowed to apply all those lessons to a better, more efficiently produced second game, they are scattered to the winds, and all that wisdom is lost."

Schafer noted that when development wrapped on Psychonauts, he could have laid off half its staff in order to have more money and time to get to work on Brutal Legend. However, he decided against this because he did not want to disrupt the already established cohesion and camaraderie among Double Fine's staff.

"Doing so would have meant breaking up a team that had just learned how to work well together," he said. "And what message would that have sent to our employees? It would say that we're not loyal to them, and that we don't care."

"Which would make them wonder," Schafer added, "'Why should we be loyal to this company?' If you're not loyal to your team you can get by for a while, but eventually you will need to rely on their loyalty to you and it just won't be there."

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