We’ve heard from two sources that there have been big layoffs at Gas Powered Games, the company that just launched a Kickstarter for $US1.1 million to make their next game, Wildman.
One source said these layoffs may be connected to the Kickstarter’s current performance, which has been disappointing. Right now, it has been up for four days and earned around $US173,000, nowhere close to its goal.
One source suggested that the company may be shutting down entirely.
UPDATE: We’ve heard from two more sources saying that almost everyone at the company has been laid off. According to one of these sources, the company has let go of everyone except CEO Chris Taylor and one or two people.
Located in Redmond, Washington, Gas Powered Games is the developer behind games like Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander. It’s run by Chris Taylor, who created the popular real-time strategy game Total Annihilation.
We’ve reached out to both Taylor and a PR representative for the company’s Kickstarter project. We’ll update should we hear back.
UPDATE 2: Chris Taylor has confirmed the layoffs. He sent over the following email:
We do have a layoff, and we’ll be updating our Kickstarter as well with details as well very soon. I’m way behind, so many wonderful people to talk to and share stories with, so it just takes time. It’s actually been a fairly positive experience, because I run a very open company and everyone knows what’s going on.
UPDATE 3: Taylor has offered some further explanation to Gamasutra, saying, “The studio is still operating, but we had to slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves.”
UPDATE 4: Taylor has offered a further bit of explanation to Joystiq, telling them that about 40 people have been “affected by layoffs” (Joystiq’s language), that the decision wasn’t as sudden as it appeared to be, and that it will allow the company to pay severance and remaining paid time-off.
UPDATE 5: Taylor has made a lengthy statement via a video update to the Wildman Kickstarter page. He explains the reasoning behind the timing of the layoffs: If the company ran through the entire Kickstarter campaign and it failed, he says he’d have to let everyone go, shut the company down, and not give any paid time-off or severance. “That,” he says, “I decided was not worth it.”
In the video, Taylor goes on to ask backers if he should continue the Kickstarter campaign. “Now that the team has been laid off,” he says, “should I continue the campaign to see if the numbers do improve, and hire them back at the end of the campaign if they still want to come back and if they haven’t found jobs? Or do I shut the campaign down tonight, or tomorrow, and call it done?” Taylor then asks people to vote with their comments, and says they will tabulate them. “Do we kill the campaign, or do we keep it going? It’s up to you.”