Layoffs seem to be par for the course for many developers in the games industry nowadays, but one company claims that it has never had a single layoff in its entire history: Ken Levine's 2K Boston.
The games industry has been hit, like just about every other industry out there these days, with its fair share of job losses. From troubled companies like Midway to big entities like Electronic Arts, news of layoffs have gotten frequent enough to the point that's it's not really news anymore.
One well-known developer, however, claims to have a history that bucks this trend. According to its boss, 2K Boston, once known as Irrational Games and the developer of System Shock II and now known for making the first BioShock, has never had a single layoff. "We've never had a layoff in the history of our company, and I'm very proud of that," Ken Levine said.
That's a feat worth boasting about for any business. But times have changed since 2K Boston was founded 12 years ago. Will Levine's company be able to keep its staff as stable as it has? Levine thinks so. "And, you know, I can't make predictions for the future, but I think culturally we've always felt it was very important to hire the right people - and not hire too many people so things get out of control - and think about a plan," he said.
Having a "plan," Levine thinks, is the key to keeping employees and something other companies don't do enough these days. "One of the reasons, I think, that you see a lot of layoffs in this industry is that you have these huge products, and you don't have a plan for what you do afterward," Levine explained. "So the product ends, and - you see this day after day, you know - teams get cut in half or shut down after the product ships, because there's no plan to move on for the future."
Keeping a small staff doesn't hurt, either: "It's because, if you get a huge staff, that makes you feel good, and you sit out there, and you go, 'Oh, look at my domain, here. I've got 200 people working on this product.' But that's a tough number to carry at the end of a project."