Codemasters is a video game company with a focus on racing games. They are well-known for their racing games series such as Dirt, F1, and Grid. They have been in the industry since 1986. Despite their longevity, not all of their games have been successful. Earlier this year, they released OnRush, a unique racer with a focus on destroying other cars during a race. The game sold extremely poorly and barely sold 1,000 units in Europe according to Eurogamer.
Whether in response or to make back the money from the development of OnRush, Codemasters laid off many senior staff members and lead designers -including Driveclub and OnRush director Paul “Rushy” Rustchynsky. Junior members were also let go. Some employees had to re-interview for a position at the company. Employees felt the lay-off was sudden as most expected to support upcoming Codemasters titles and help develop less ambitious games.
In response to the Layoffs
While it is common for Video Game companies to have large layoffs after a game has finished, releasing the senior staff will make it difficult for making future games. Despite this, Codemasters defends the layoffs by stating “It is normal course of business for game teams to evolve as projects launch and move into service, and as other new projects start.” The spokesperson is partially correct. To keep the cost of development down, many companies hire developers as contractors.
Difficulties of the Industry
According to TargetCW, a recruiting company, ten to fifteen percent of developers are contractors for big games. Since contractors don’t receive employee benefits, companies save 30% in cost. It is rare for contractors to ever be converted to full-time employees. Often, contractors stay on for a year or more in hopes of conversion. Many young developers will be contractors for many years. The gaming industry is idealized. As huge game budgets increase, more companies found alternative methods to save on cost. Perhaps what Codemasters said is partially correct that is common to lay off contractors and employees after a game development, it doesn’t mean it’s okay. With this news breaking, hopefully, more unions or changes to protect employees in the gaming industry.
Eurogamer – Original Interview with Former Employees
Polygon – Difficulties of Contract work