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It appears the layoff wind blowing through the game industry has picked up speed again. Yesterday it was PlayStation announcing that it had laid off 900 employees. Today it is a confirmation from Deck Nine Games that it is cutting its staff number by 20%.

Life Is Strange Developer Deck Nine Games Hit By Layoffs. Around 20% Or 30 Staff Axed

“Like many others in the games industry right now, Deck Nine has been affected by the game industry’s worsening market conditions,” the studio officially announced on X. “Today we made the difficult decision to lay off 20% of our staff.”

“These people are amazing, talented, and awesome developers. They have made a huge impact during their time at Deck Nine Games and we did not take this decision lightly. Please hire these people if you can, they’re amazing.”

Some of the comments from the impacted employees signal the layoff came as a shock to them. Deck Nine Games narrative designer and game writer Elizabeth Ballou was alarmed after the affected staff were temporarily locked out of their work email. Access was later restored. Her comments came before the official announcement of the layoff by the company.

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“They just gave a big speech about giving us time to say goodbye, get materials we needed, etc. then immediately locked us out of our work email,” Ballou wrote. “We are all getting two weeks of severance, including people who have worked at the studio for 7+ years.”

Ballou also confirmed that all executives, directors, and leads took about 10% pay cuts—but couldn’t confirm if that was the case for every single person. The last message in her thread suggested the cause of the layoff had something to do with AI.

On LinkedIn Ballou wrote, “I was laid off from Deck Nine games today. I’ll have more to say later, but for now I am devastated—mostly due to the state of the industry as a whole, and the suffering of my colleagues”.

This is the second layoff to hit Deck Nine Games in less than a year

Life Is Strange Developer Deck Nine Games Hit By Layoffs. Around 20% Or 30 Staff Axed

There were so many layoffs last year. However, not all of them made headlines. It was estimated that over 10,000 game workers lost their jobs last year. However, the figure may be much more than that. More details are emerging about job cuts at Deck Nine Games following the recent layoff.

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Abigail Markish, a former QA tester for Deck Nine Games revealed that around 38 people were laid off from the studio last May/June. Unfortunately, she was one of those affected at that time. While the company did not give the exact number of the staff affected by the current layoff, Markish estimated that it would be approximately 30 people.

We are barely through the first two months of 2024 and the number of job losses in the video game industry has already surpassed 7,000. If the current tempo persists, the video game industry will likely experience twice as many layoffs compared to last year’s estimates.

Former Deck Nine employees air their views

Life Is Strange Developer Deck Nine Games Hit By Layoffs. Around 20% Or 30 Staff Axed

GameBaba Universe tracked some of the laid-off employees of Deck Nine Games. Although not all of them publicly wrote about the layoff, for those who did, it was an outpouring of emotion and appreciation for the experiences gained over the years.

“Unfortunately, I have been caught in this round of layoffs at Deck Nine Games,” wrote gameplay programmer Jacob Asofsky. “I made good friends, worked on things I’m proud of, and I’m ready to look for my next opportunity in games.”

Character technical artist Alexander Wagner said he was devasted that he would not be there to see the end of some of the projects he was working on. “After surviving many rounds of layoffs this last year, today my luck ran out and I was laid off. I’m happy I got to work on such awesome projects during my stay at Deck Nine Games. I’m also devastated that I was unable to see the project to the end.”

Just last month, Deck Nine Games partnered with Double Black Capital on what was described as “their next big adventure”. Andrew Porat, Double Black Capital co-founder and partner shared the news with excitement.

Emecheta Christian

Emecheta Christian is an avid gamer with over 5 years in the industry. He is also a poet. It is therefore not surprising that his post sometimes read like poetry.


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