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Default Obsidian Entertainment - Layoff Reports

April 26th, 2011, 23:48
Gamasutra reports a number of tweets from now ex-Obsidian employees as a round of layoffs appears to have hit. A post at the Obsidian forums lists half a dozen or so that appear to have been let go, including Fallout: New Vegas art director Joe Sanabria. This may well be part of the (unfortunately) common post-completion staff reduction, so it's difficult to tell what it means for Obsidian at this point.
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April 26th, 2011, 23:48
Preparing in case DSIII is a flop?

Kind of strange to layoff an art director though.
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April 27th, 2011, 01:01
I love Obsidian so this is sad for me. Hopefully the company itself is still solid.
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April 27th, 2011, 01:48
Gotta suck to have a job that is always project based, but I guess it beats the jobs the rest of us have. Where do you think its worse: movie industry or gaming industry?
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April 27th, 2011, 04:10
Somehow I get the feeling that the people responsible for releasing Obsidian’s last couple of games in a beta state escaped the axe.
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April 27th, 2011, 05:36
Not a good sign. Even healthy project based companies dont like to release employees like this. Programmers and designers are not commodities like you might find in day labor and can be expensive to rehire and train. I certainly wouldn't go back unless I had no other options or there was a really good reason. They could be the bottom 5% but I'm guessing not.

Anyway, I've liked most of their recent games and didn't thing they were exceptionally buggy. I encountered no issues with Alpha Protocol or Fallout NV that I thought were unacceptable and actually really enjoyed the games. I was considering getting DSIII just because they developed it cause I know I wouldn't want it otherwise.
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April 27th, 2011, 06:06
Its completely normal in the game business. Just look at THQ presidents response on why people are let go. Teams get to large and projects change all the time. It doesn't mean doom as everybody always says. It's just business.

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April 27th, 2011, 07:36
Originally Posted by DoctorNarrative View Post
I love Obsidian so this is sad for me. Hopefully the company itself is still solid.
This. I like my Obsidian games just how they are (minus the bugs).
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April 27th, 2011, 12:23
I've never been fired myself, but I have been through a similar scenario where the company I worked for decided to layoff quite a few employees. It's generally not done lightly, as it creates quite a depressing atmosphere for a while.

I assume this means they were hoping to land a certain project, but couldn't, and now the next project seems to too far off to have people just sitting around. Let's all hope Obsidian still manages to pull through and land more solid projects.
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April 27th, 2011, 12:44
I find this a bit strange, given how many projects they've been working on simultaneously.

New Vegas, Dungeon Siege 3, and that Wheel of Time they're supposedly working on. I seem to recall rumors about another title that slips my mind at the moment.

Certainly more projects than they usually handle at once - and if they're tight for cash?

Hmm….
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April 27th, 2011, 12:55
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I find this a bit strange, given how many projects they've been working on simultaneously.

New Vegas, Dungeon Siege 3, and that Wheel of Time they're supposedly working on. I seem to recall rumors about another title that slips my mind at the moment.

Certainly more projects than they usually handle at once - and if they're tight for cash?

Hmm….
As far as I know, they only have a few people on the WoT project, helping out. They're not actually the main developers. DS3 and New Vegas are both "done" - as in, there is most likely still activity, but not enough activity for a full sized project.

I don't know what else they're up to.
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April 27th, 2011, 13:00
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
As far as I know, they only have a few people on the WoT project, helping out. They're not actually the main developers. DS3 and New Vegas are both "done" - as in, there is most likely still activity, but not enough activity for a full sized project.

I don't know what else they're up to.
Yes, but wouldn't it make more sense to see the returns before firing people?
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April 27th, 2011, 13:00
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I find this a bit strange, given how many projects they've been working on simultaneously.

New Vegas, Dungeon Siege 3, and that Wheel of Time they're supposedly working on. I seem to recall rumors about another title that slips my mind at the moment.

Certainly more projects than they usually handle at once - and if they're tight for cash?

Hmm….
It is very unlikely that they are so tight on cash that they can't pay necessary employees. Most of the titles (all of them?) they are working on are publisher financed (aka they get money to do stuff). If they have financial problems than someone has calculated with wrong numbers.

It's more likely that they don't have a project to work on where the specific skill sets of the fired people are useful. In that case it's quite normal to let some people go because they are a drain on company resources without producing anything useful.
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April 27th, 2011, 13:28
Probably a necessary downsizing after working on so many projects simultaneaously during the last years.
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April 27th, 2011, 13:30
Yeah, I guess.

Sad that doing (presumably) good work isn't rewarded in terms of how the games sell. As always, I think the publisher/developer relationship is horribly flawed.

Maybe they don't expect them to do well?
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April 27th, 2011, 14:25
Originally Posted by hishadow View Post
Gotta suck to have a job that is always project based, but I guess it beats the jobs the rest of us have. Where do you think its worse: movie industry or gaming industry?
Well having worked briefly in the former and having family who have worked in the latter, I would say (without a doubt) gaming! And the reason is simple: game companies are some of the most dysfunctional, poorly run businesses in the world. During my brief tenure at one, I was amazed at the complete Business 101 ineptitude of the company I worked for and the other gaming companies we collaborated with.

On the plus side, game devs seem to have a fairly easy time landing some place new, as real-world game dev experience (i.e., actually participating in a commercial project that ships to retail) is still not too easy to come by. However, there have been more layoffs than normal over the past few years..
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April 27th, 2011, 14:49
Obsidian programmer "Framerate" has posted what seems a light-hearted response in the thread linked, which I would interpret means this is a minor/planned reduction.

is this the end?
is Obsidian closing?
no more good rpgs?
are we going to end up playing only Bioware so called rpgs?
no more good Fallout games?
the end of games with good stories?
can't trade my fat mom for some hot chick?

The answer to ONE of those is a yes. The rest are no's. LET THE SPECULATION BEGIN!
Probably doesn't make it better for those let go but I can't imagine posting that if it was a major restructure. Just my interpretation, of course.

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April 27th, 2011, 20:27
Originally Posted by figment View Post
Not a good sign. Even healthy project based companies dont like to release employees like this.
What makes these layoffs odd is that New Vegas was an unbridled success, outselling Fallout3; I read it sold 5 million units in the first month. Even with the Alpha Protocol flop, you would think Obsidian would have enough working capital to avoid these layoffs.

Originally Posted by figment View Post
I encountered no issues with Alpha Protocol or Fallout NV
Well, lucky you! Obsidian has a habit of releasing buggy, albeit great, games.
Many, including myself, have had constant crashes to desktop since the games release.
Personally, I cannot play New Vegas for 30 minutes without a CTD… on both Win7-64b and WinXP-32b PCs, although XP seems slightly more stable. This is frustrating because I love the game. I should note that I haven’t had a chance to try the latest 1.3 patch, but early reports are not good.
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April 27th, 2011, 20:43
Even with successful games recently released they can't afford them pay full project team to do nothing.

Even small team like those indie like are organizing their projects to avoid such problem so start a new one when the previous is at end.

Perhaps they failed get projects to do that, or a project get canceled, or it could be just a bad organization or some bad luck.
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April 27th, 2011, 22:37
New Vegas, or any other Obsidian game, selling well won't necessarily mean that money is coming back to Obsidian. The publisher likely takes most, if not all, money from the sales (though I think some contracts state that the developer will get some royalties based on big sales or even something as stupid as a high Metacritic store according to a former Obsidian developer posting on another forum). Keeping their employees occupied, meeting milestones for projects for their publishers is how an independent game dev will make the money to stay afloat.

Of course, having good sales under your belt would likely mean that it's easier to secure contracts in the future.

Anyways, while it's always a terrible situation with lay-offs, I don't get the impression that it's enormously serious.
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