Bilson: Laying off developers is the worst part of my job

THQ's executive vice president of core games discusses recent cuts and publisher's future

THQ's executive vice president of core games Danny Bilson has talked about the cuts he had to make at Vigil Games and Relic Entertainment.

"Laying off developers is the worst part of my job by a lot," he told Ripten.

"It is the most painful, horrible, sad thing that comes along, and I don't know how, honestly… you never get over it. Let's just say that it's unbelievably disappointing."

The THQ head also discussed developer reactions to the news of the redundancies, and maintained that the Homefront publisher had done everything it could to avoid the cuts.

"There's another story of the THQ that kept those guys and ladies employed as long as the absolutely could and did not ever want to make a change, but the market conditions, around MMOs in particular, were starting to influence a rescaling of it," he revealed.

"Our own market conditions-the conditions of the company-with our financial status, at a certain point, at the very last point, we had to let those people go. There was nothing capricious about it. It was nothing that any of us wanted to do."

He was also unsurprisingly keen to talk about THQ's future, promising great things in the next three years, with unannounced titles currently in the works.

"The thing that keeps me going and gets me up everyday is the portfolio," he teased.

"In the future, and you know this, only the best games with really quality marketing and proper investment are going to be profitable or, even, break out. There's a lot of tough stuff navigating the waters of the industry and the changes in the industry, and transitioning this company to an original IP, core games company."

The interview follows rumours at the start of the year that THQ was looking for a buyer.

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Latest comments (2)

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios5 years ago
CCP, the developers of EVE Online, recently had to make a large cut in their overall workforce. One thing I thought was truly amazing and showed how much CCP cared for their employees, is that they actively worked with those employees to find them new employment within the industry community.

Now I don't know whether this is CCP's own choosing or it's a law in Iceland in regards to unemployment, but If it was truly CCP's own choice, they really set the standard.

In today's industry you see more and more stories about redundancies and layoffs. CCP is a great example of how companies should handle this sort of thing. Personally I hope to never have to fire anybody, but it's something that comes with the territory. Do I want to do it? No... Am I ready for it? Yes... It's a fact of life and part of the position. And I can only imagine where Bilson is coming from and what he's feeling.

The pressure to please your shareholders (who are already up in arms over a stock that hasnt broken above a dollar in almost two quarters), and having to make the difficult choice of who to lay off and who to keep.

I'm sure we can all make jokes about how it must be tough for him to go home to his gigantic home, with his nice car and blah blah blah... But you know what? I'm sure he has earned every bit of what he has... and there's a huge difference between having to worry about laying off 4 people in a small business... as opposed to having to lay off 400 people in a multi million dollar corporation. The feeling on an individual level is roughly the same, but it grows exponentially when you're starting to talk about hundreds of people... and not just one or two.
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Jack Lee5 years ago
Nice to see someone who isn't just frothing at the mouth to crucify THQ in general and their executive/management personnel in particular.

They made some bad bets and some poor choices, particularly sinking tons of money into a traditional MMO, but that doesn't make everyone at the company a heartless bastard, even the ones who had to make the unpopular decisions like gutting studios. Obviously I'm much sorrier for the displaced developers, but it's no picnic for the people in charge of that process either.
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