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Another day, another news of a layoff. This time, it is the German game developer Fishlabs that was impacted. The Chorus developer is the latest Embracer-owned studio to be hit by layoffs. No fewer than 50 employees at the Hamburg-based studio are believed to be impacted by the decision.

It was reported on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, that Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors informed staff that 50 people will be let go at Fishlabs. According to sources familiar with the matter, the executives claimed a “lack of approval and financing” for an in-development project left them with “no other choice”.

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A scan through LinkedIn shows that Fishlabs has around 120 employees. That means nearly half of the roles in the company have now been made redundant. Several former employees at Fishlabs have now updated their LinkedIn profile or made posts declaring they are #OpenToWork.

“Hi everyone,” wrote senior technical artist Nils Svenningsen. “I didn’t expect to be on the market for new jobs so soon, but due to mass lay-offs at Fishlabs I am now #OpenToWork and looking for a new place to call home!”

Senior animator Zygi Neviera who was also affected shared fond memories about working with Fishlabs saying, “It was the most fun studio I worked at so far”. Neviera was kind of expecting the layoffs but hoping for the best.

“Sad to see [Fishlabs] get crushed by the numbers game as it did attract a lot of interesting talent over the years,” Neviera wrote. “I will take a nice, long holiday before getting back in the game this January. If you need or know someone who needs a keyframe/mocap animator, drop me a DM.”

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Founded in 2004, Fishlabs is most famous for creating Chorus, a space combat game. The studio has also worked on creating Nintendo Switch ports for Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row 4 as well as the Xbox port for Valheim.

Embracer confirms layoffs at Fishlabs

After the news of the layoffs at Fishlabs surfaced, several media outlets reached out to Embracer for comments. Eventually, Plaion confirmed the layoff through its spokesperson. The layoff was blamed on restructuring. Plaion later posted an official statement on LinkedIn where they gave further details of the circumstances leading to the layoff and their plans for the ex-employees.

“Unfortunately, the challenging year in the industry, as well as the challenges of internal group-wide restructuring efforts have affected our team after all,” read the second paragraph of the statement. “We are heartbroken to announce that we had to face the tough decision from Embracer Group of lay-offs in our studio. Around 50 of our team members are affected by this decision.”

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Plaion further expressed their sadness that such is coming ahead of the holiday season and imagined how tough it would be for the ex-employees and their families. Consequently, they said they are working with the company’s leadership team to support every impacted employee.

“Talented, dedicated, and highly experienced people will be leaving Fishlabs, and we want them to find new teams and projects they can be passionate and proud of again. Our team has always been supportive of one another, and we will remain friends, supporters, and advocates of each other’s work.”

Embracer has been on the path of restructuring since June after a $2 billion Saudi deal fell through. The restructuring drive has seen the cancellation of several projects, massive layoffs, and the closure of several studios. One of the first studios to be shuttered was Volition Games, the studio behind the Saints Row franchise.

Campfire Cabal was also closed while Gearbox (the Borderlands maker) has been put up for sale. This year has been brutal for video game workers with over 6,000 job losses reported as of early October. During its last earnings call, Embracer reported that over 900 employees have been laid off across its studios.

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