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This week is one of the “bloodiest” for video game employees. It started with shocking Bungie layoffs and is ending with Cryptic Studios announcing personnel changes—which technically meant layoffs. Cryptic Studios is famous for developing Neverwinter and Star Trek Online.

The studio was founded in 2000 but was later acquired in December 2021 by Embracer Group. The studio has been responsible for developing and maintaining Neverwinter ever since. The scale of the layoff is not immediately clear at the moment. However, some of the former employees of the studio have been speaking out.

“Today marks the end of my tenure as Narrative Director for Cryptic Studios due to a reduction in workforce,” wrote Winter Mullenix on LinkedIn. “I will always look back at these times with a profound sense of gratitude. If you are in need of a narrative director, a principal narrative designer, or someone to lead your writers’ room, let’s talk!”

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Furthermore, Mullenix said, “Several other incredibly skilled professionals were impacted including our fantastic VP of Game Development Andre Emerson, Senior Environment Artist Patrick Poage, Staff Producer Rachel Unger, and more”.

Mullenix promised to share more names of those that “feel comfortable”. Apart from Mullenix, the layoff was also confirmed by other employees of the studio. One of them was Scot Boyd, Cryptic Studios’ Lead Environment Artist.

“I’m sure you have been seeing a lot of people in the gaming industry being let go recently,” Boyd wrote on LinkedIn. “Unfortunately, I’m here to report that there are a lot of amazing people from Cryptic Studios who are joining this list today. I would love to help as many as I can to find jobs as soon as possible.”

Signs of layoffs at Cryptic Studios emerged in October

Although employees at Cryptic Studios only started talking about their departure from the studio this month, signs of the mass layoff started showing up sometime in October. Perhaps, the employees were informed of their layoff earlier in October but it only took effect at the end of the month.

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On October 14, 2023, Timur222 (@bogorad222) shared screenshots on X that showed multiple Cryptic employees updating their profiles on LinkedIn to show they were available for work. One of them was Mike Fatum, Star Trek Online community manager.

Fatum at that time claimed that “none of the teams at Cryptic have changed at this time”, in reaction to the news that some of the employees in the studio were updating their profiles.

Cryptic Studios explains reasons for layoffs

Female employees at Cryptic

When the news about the layoffs at Cryptic Studios went viral, reached out to the studio for comments. Although the studio’s spokesperson did not give the number of people impacted, they confirmed that the reason was due to Embracer’s restructuring.

“As part of the Embracer Group’s comprehensive restructuring program, Cryptic Studios will now operate under DECA Games,” the spokesperson said. “In addition to this organizational change, our commitment to Embracer’s directive to reduce costs requires us to undertake difficult personnel changes, including separating from some team members.”

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DECA Games is a games-as-a-service publisher that operates as part of Embracer Group. The company focuses primarily on mobile games.

The spokesperson further said that the studio will “provide job assistance and support those impacted to smooth this transition”. One thing that will not change is the fact that the studio will continue to support free-to-play games.

Back in June, Embracer announced a restructuring program which has had a ripple effect on studios owned by the group. The restructuring was inevitable after Embracer lost a $2 billion deal in May. Several Embracer-owned studios including Zen Studios, Beamdog, Digic, Gearbox Publishing, Crystal Dynamics, and others have laid off staff.

Some studios were shut down entirely including Campfire Cabal and Volition Games. This year has been one of the hardest for video game employees. As of October 7, around 6,100 video game employees have lost their jobs due to layoffs and studio closures. There is currently no job opening at Cryptic Studios.

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Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta has over a decade experience as a freelance writer. Gaming has always been a childhood hobby and he is excited to be collaborating with a gaming company as a content creator. It is like having all the things he loves in one place.