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Carbine: Redundancies are "part of game development"

WildStar developer describes the difficulty of ramping down from a 270-person team

Carbine Studios has responded to its recent round of layoffs, saying that redundancies, "suck, but it's part of game development."

In an interview with Eurogamer, Carbine's Mike Donatelli (product director) and Chad Moore (creative director) addressed the 60 jobs - "that's the ball-park" - that NCSoft West cut in October. Donatelli pointed out that the redundancies were wider than just Carbine, but he nevetheless put them in the context of how a game on the scale of WildStar is actually made.

Donatelli described the 271-strong team Carbine has amassed just ahead of WildStar's launch as "gigantic" but, "we had to hire up those folks to get the game solid for launch."

"In the studio I'm sitting at now, we still have hundreds of people working on WildStar. And that's the honest to God truth. As far as I was concerned it [laying people off] sucks, but it's part of game development."

While Donatelli couldn't discuss the success of WildStar in terms of hard numbers, he did say that sales were "many, many, many times" larger than 250,000. He also claimed that NCSoft has pledged its continued support for the game.

"I feel very comfortable making that statement," he said.

"This whole experience of launching an MMO, especially here at Carbine, has resulted in a lot of positive changes for our studio overall," added Chad moore, the studio's creative director. "I would consider us a much stronger studio than we were the day after we launched. Some of our processes for how we develop content, how we test content, are way better than they were just a few months ago."

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Latest comments (7)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development6 years ago
Some of our processes for how we develop content, how we test content, are way better than they were just a few months ago
Until you fired all the people who helped you get there? I remember when completion bonuses involved perks, not a P45.
Carbine Studios has responded to its recent round of layoffs, saying that redundancies, "suck, but it's part of game development."
He certainly doesn't speak for me and my company with this "it's part of game development." hubris. Last time I checked were still in game develoment and we haven't made any single person redundant in our decade of existence.

Using people as disposable utensils is actually just about "piss poor management" Disgusting to be so arrogant and proud of behaving this way. I hope it bites at the next round of hiring.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 12th November 2014 8:24pm

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Alan Wilson Vice President, Tripwire Interactive6 years ago
Carbine Studios has responded to its recent round of layoffs, saying that redundancies, "suck, but it's part of game development."
No, I'm sorry, but it is NOT part of game development. It is a part of badly-managed game development. These attitudes disgust me when I see this. In this day and age, can't you find any better way of handling resourcing challenges than hiring people, knowing full well that you actually only intend to employ them for 6-12 months? Crap. Do better.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alan Wilson on 13th November 2014 1:05pm

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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
So they essentially baited people with full time employment when they should have been hiring them as contractors so they would have lower wage expectations?

I suppose that there is a chance that NCSoft made this demand of them and they had little choice but still.
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Show all comments (7)
Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys6 years ago
I don't normally post, but felt it was worth speaking up on this too. Redundancies happen in all industries, but redundancies are not part of game development. Redundancies are the result of management failures or unpredictable shifts in the market. A fixed term contract is a much better option for resourcing if the future is uncertain. Employing someone permanently you expect to make redundant is abhorrent.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development6 years ago
Employing someone permanently you expect to make redundant is abhorrent.
I think it's actually illegal in the UK. I don't know for sure as I wouldn't dream of needing to know.
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 6 years ago
I don't think it is illegal but it's certainly frowned upon over here but that's the exact reason companies outsource contractors and agencies.

Also there's two issues with his statement of "lay-offs are part of the games industry" 1) It's not just the games industry 2) NO IT'S NOT!

If your long term goal is to hire someone to fire them then you don't just fail at management, you fail at the fundamentals of life. Sure mishaps, mismanagement, unexpected problems etc. can occur and lead to lay-offs. Sure if the person or team have flopped, get rid, bring in a new team but to state it's part of game development is absurd.

I am going to assume that he has his wires crossed in the sense that freelance/contract/temporary positions that are laid-off are part of game development since that is true since most contract positions are 6-12 months with the possibility of leading to a permanent position but if someone is permanently employed and being fired then he needs to untangle those wires before more damage is done.

In any case, best wishes to all those affected, I am sure there are some studios out there that would gobble up the talent in a heartbeat, though if this is the kind of management at Carbine and possibly at NCSoft, then they will be the first names on my blacklist for not sending my CV.
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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe6 years ago
The reason they do it this way is paying at least 50% less for an employee than a contractor...
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