Not long ago, we were talking about the massive, even pioneering, success of Double Fine's Kickstarter to make a game it wanted to make, to escape the random, rogue-like survivability of sustaining one's game business on the whims of publishers. In a sad twist, it's a canned project from a publisher that has led to DF letting 12 of its staff go.
There's not much to say; Gamasutra's Christian Nutt received the following short statement from Double Fine's Tim Schafer:
"One of our unannounced projects was unexpectedly cancelled by its publisher, forcing us to reduce our staff by 12 people. Our remaining projects — Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Grim Fandango Remastered, were unaffected."
At first glance, you might be wondering why DF would have to let anyone go, after not one, but two wildly successful Kickstarters and even cutting back on the original scope of Broken Age to save money and putting it up on Steam to generate income. Unfortunately, game development doesn't quite work that way.
The likely scenario is that DF recruited staff explicitly for that project and while some developers and publishers might be in a position to keep staff on until something new rolls around, with their salaries paid for by other projects, it's a tougher proposition for an independent. Sometimes it's better to keep projects — and the staff associated with them — compartmentalised.