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Six Foot and Yager’s team-based space shooter Dreadnought launched on the Steam storefront four days ago. Today, Dreadnought developer Six Foot confirmed that roughly a third of its workforce has been laid off due to the game’s projected massive financial underperformance.
Six Foot COO Christian Svensson confirmed the layoffs in a statement to Game Informer.
“Today we regrettably confirm a reduction of about a third of our game dev workforce,” said Svensson.
The news comes as a shock publicly, but this outcome was widely known as a possibility within Six Foot itself. According to Svensson, the gamble associated with Dreadnought’s release was discussed openly in a meeting with the studio’s 200 member staff in August.
“Six Foot informed its staff of the upcoming potential for major changes to our company structure, including continued development of Dreadnought as a live product,” said Svensson.
Svensson also revealed that Six Foot gave its staff the choice to continue working on Dreadnought or begin looking for other employment with the studio’s support.
“Everyone on the games team was given the option to stay on and continue working or begin searching for other opportunities with the full support of the company and the aid of our staffing team, while still receiving pay in the interim,” he said.
Svensson’s statement marks the end of a development cycle that seemed doomed before Dreadnought ever launched. Sources close to Six Foot confirmed to Game Informer that Six Foot CEO Matt Ballesteros revealed the studio only had enough money to support development of the game for a few more months. Labor costs alone were reportedly costing $80,000 a day.
While Dreadnought garnered success on the PlayStation 4, gathering comparisons to World of Tanks, the PC release of the game was met with tepid fanfare. When the game launched on October 14, Six Foot’s development team was still hard at work smoothing out major issues within it. Unfortunately, financial projections for the game rolled in at the same time. They were dire. While it cost Six Foot $80,000 per day just to pay its staff, the game reportedly was projected to pull in less than $20,000 per day.
The financial discrepancy forced Six Foot’s hand, and approximately 45 staff members, not all of whom were present, were offered the choice to take an unpaid leave of absence or be laid off and collect unemployment at a regularly scheduled studio-wide bi-weekly meeting on October 16. Both options came with the chance to be rehired should Dreadnought prove profitable.
One source exclaimed that the situation reminded them “very much of the Telltale situation” that caused an uproar among labor rights advocates in the game development community. One key difference between the two, though, is that Six Foot executives remained transparent about the risk attributed to Dreadnought’s development. The studio, according to Svensson, is also working to help those affect recover.
“We’re continuing to make available the full resources of our company to try to help those affected and their families land on their feet as quickly as possible,” said Svensson. “We remain committed to Dreadnought’s ongoing development, growth, and the pursuit of new projects. We are also dedicated to remaining active in helping our affected family to transition as smoothly as possible.”