The Blood Bath continues

So today Aspyr Media in Austin let go of 30 people today. Free Radical (makers of Haze and Time Splitters) also shut their doors.

So we’ve had Midway dumping 25% of their people (most of the people still there are finishing up games like WheelMan and This Is Vegas – who knows what will happen to them once those are done), we’ve had EA dumping 600 people with the promise of more in the new year, we’ve had Factor 5 dumping 1/2 of their crew, CME is unable to pay it’s people and they are fleeing in droves, we’ve got Ensemble shutting down in the new year, we’ve had Gearbox dropping 25 people, Sony is shutting down their NBA team, Brash has ceased to exist – it goes on and on.

It’s a blood bath out there – whilst there is some shedding of this nature that occurs at this time of year every year, this year it’s significantly worse. Lots of publishers are tightening belts based on the economy – feeling they need to keep their war chests as large as they can to survive and not go the way of Brash.

And yet we have record sales? If that’s the case, why is this bloodbath happening? Well, the sales are all for the big games – the smaller ones are all not doing so well – the sales figures for Mirrors Edge for example are staggeringly bad.

One of the things that tends to happen in these recession times is that the money slides to the biggies and the rest go to the wall – the division of money gets very un equal. But that’s just the way it tends to go.

So we’ve got lots of smaller devs with less financial wherewithal who aren’t able to survive long term, publishers being more frugal with granting of new projects and canceling existing ones and lots of smaller devs, who are existing check to check go to the wall.

What worries me is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better – I have the feeling that 2009 is going to be even worse for game development than the second half of 2008 is, which is extremely depressing.

It makes me very grateful for my new position – can’t wait to get started on that I have to say.

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