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Indie game company Hidden Path Entertainment laid off 44 people on Wednesday, February 7, 2024. The Defense Grid maker blamed the decision on paucity of funds to continue working on an unannounced title. The company’s CEO Jeff Pobst and Michael Austin (the founder and creative director) both shared identical messages on LinkedIn confirming the layoff.

Defense Grid Maker, Hidden Path Entertainment Laid Off 44 People (Seemingly All Employees) Last Week

“For over six months, our team at Hidden Path Entertainment has been in numerous active discussions to find replacement funding for an exciting RPG project,” read the announcement. “In the face of a challenging environment, we now have no choice but to pause development on that project and reduce the company size until we have an opportunity to return to it.”

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“Because of this, we have had to make the painful decision to release 44 amazing game developers from our studio. Those who are impacted have played key roles in the development of a number of awesome projects. Their creativity, passion, and commitment has left an indelible mark on Hidden Path. We are determined to do what we can to support these talented professionals so that they can resume their careers elsewhere, all while hoping we can work with them again soon.”

At the end of the announcement, the executives shared a link to a Google sheet containing the names and portfolios of all the former employees impacted by the layoff.  The layoffs cut across different sections of the studio including production, human resources, art, design, engineering, finance, audio, and QA.

Defense Grid Maker, Hidden Path Entertainment Laid Off 44 People (Seemingly All Employees) Last Week

Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Hidden Path Entertainment was founded in 2006. The company was “established to develop and produce interactive entertainment software for current and future generations of video game consoles and other computing platforms”.

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“The company has 40 experienced game developers (programmers, artists, designers, producers) who average 12.5 years each of experience in the game industry and over 13 shipped titles per person,” added the About section of the company on LinkedIn.

If that information was accurate at the time the layoffs were announced, it effectively meant that all the employees in the studio have now been laid off—and it is probably facing shutdown if they don’t get funding soon.

Ex Hidden Path Entertainment employees share their experiences

Defense Grid Maker, Hidden Path Entertainment Laid Off 44 People (Seemingly All Employees) Last Week

Hidden Path Entertainment released their first title Defense Grid: The Awakening two years after being founded. The sequel to the game titled Defense Grid 2 was later released in 2014, marking a significant milestone for the company. It was their only game ever to make it to PS4 and Switch platforms. Their latest release is Raccoon Lagoon in 2019.

“Hi folks. Along with 43 of my extraordinarily talented peers, I was part of the recent layoff at Hidden Path Entertainment,” wrote Matthew Pennebaker who was a principal designer at the studio. “If you’re looking for a technical designer who thrives in solving problems and bolstering the team around me, let’s talk!”

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“Today is my last day at Hidden Path Entertainment as I am sadly among the 44 people impacted by layoffs this week,” wrote Ben Paolillo who played the role of senior UI engineer. “Although my time at HPE was relatively short, I am grateful for having worked on some really cool projects with a fantastic group of game developers.”

Defense Grid Maker, Hidden Path Entertainment Laid Off 44 People (Seemingly All Employees) Last Week

Narrating his experience, Charlie Ngo who was a principal gameplay programmer wrote, “After nearly 11 productive years at Hidden Path Entertainment, I’ve been unfortunately let go, but not without a ton of learning and experience working with gameplay systems + keeping up with insanely talented peers. I couldn’t have asked for a better job right out of college. We had increasingly harder and more complex problems to solve, especially as we got to working on an AAA open-world RPG for nearly 5 years.”

About 10,000 people lost their jobs in the video game industry last year. However, that number is likely going to be trumped by this year’s figures. In January alone, over 6,000 layoffs have been announced. GameBaba Universe included a link to the profiles of everyone mentioned in this post so that you can easily reach out to them if you have open roles.

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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