THQ Vice President Danny Bilson says the recent layoffs at Kaos and Volition shouldn’t be seen as anything more than a normal part of the development cycle.
THQ announced at the end of March that 16 people had been laid off from Volition, the studio behind Red Faction and Saints Row, and 17 from Homefront developer Kaos Studios. Layoffs are sometimes unavoidable and THQ is apparently doing all it can to help out everyone affected by the cuts, but it was still a disappointing surprise; Bilson said in January that the fate of Kaos hinged largely on the success of Homefront and while the game took a critical beating it was by all reports a commercial success for THQ.
Bilson said today, however, that the cuts were a normal part of the business and shouldn’t be seen as anything more than that. “At a certain point as you come out from the lifetime of a product, there are people that aren’t needed for another year or year and a half until you’re up to the full ramp-up. So these aren’t punitive measures; they’re normal cycling of game teams,” he explained. “If you said they shipped Red Faction and 120 guys were laid off, then we’d have something to talk about.”
Bilson said the post-production phase of the development process, like pre-production, requires very few people, so once the actual production phase is wrapped up, cuts are often inevitable. “In a one-game studio like Kaos, there’s not work for 100 people right now,” he added. “That’s kind of how that works. It’s pretty normal. Out of necessity, sometimes through movement and lack of work, it just happens.”
The actual percentage of employees affected by the layoffs is pretty tiny; Bilson noted that the 16 layoffs at Kaos were out of a total of 260 employees, which is surely cold comfort for those now looking for employment.