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Sekai Project hit by significant layoffs

CEO confirms "many" of its staff have been let go, employee reports suggest entire LA office has been closed

The visual novel publisher Sekai Project has laid off an unspecified number of staff, part of a streamlining process designed to make it more nimble and reactive to market conditions.

In a post on the company's official site, CEO Christopher Ling said that "many" of Sekai Project's "employees, co-workers, and friends" have been made redundant.

"Most of the staff that was let go over the course of the year was in marketing, whereas translation, programming, editing and QC are still diligently working on current and future projects," Ling said.

"In the coming days, the company will be going through a restructure so we can be more nimble, focused, proactive and more like the company we were when we first started."

Ling assured the company's fans that all of its current projects will continue, though he acknowledged that some would be delayed due to the streamlining process. In a comprehensive summary of what Sekai Project was working on, Ling detailed 13 different projects in various states.

One of those projects, Tokyo Chronos, was crowdfunded through Kickstarter, and Ling offered another statement on the layoffs on its official page on the platform.

"Due to the necessity of restructuring the company to better take on the changes in the market, these layoffs were an unfortunate consequence," he said. "This was not a decision that came easily and we sincerely thank them for their commitment and time with us."

That is Sekai Project's official account of the layoffs, but statements from the company's staff suggest that the redundancies run even deeper. Frances Delgado, a brand manager, said on Twitter that the entire Los Angeles office had been let go.

This is the latest setback in what is proving to be a difficult year for Sekai Project. In July, it was one of a handful of visual novel companies that faced issues releasing new games on Steam, as Valve appeared to crack down on what it perceived to be content too adult for the store.

However, this does not appear to be a factor in Sekai Project's present difficulties, as dozens of its products are currently on sale through Valve's platform.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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