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Relic Entertainment Lays Off 41 Days After Splitting From Sega

Relic Entertainment Lays Off 41 Days After Splitting From Sega

Relic Entertainment has announced its first layoff as an independent studio. The layoff is coming barely a week after the Vancouver, Canada-based studio was sold by Sega. Layoffs in the video game industry have become almost like a monthly staple but emotions have been running wild since the announcement of Relic’s layoffs.

Relic Entertainment Lays Off 41 Days After Splitting From Sega

“I am absolutely gutted that we are here again with more layoffs at Relic Entertainment,” wrote external development producer Robyn Smale. “We have lost a number of amazing people—41. It’s been a bumpy road lately, so to most, this is no surprise. But still a shame, nonetheless.”

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Relic Entertainment has worked on popular franchises including Age of Empires and Company of Heroes. After it was founded in May 1997, the studio quickly established itself in the real-time strategy genre. Sega sold Relic to a newly established holding company by UK investment company Emona Capital LLP.

“Following last week’s announcement of Relic becoming an independent studio, today we have some difficult news,” the company shared in an official statement. “Earlier today we shared details with Relicans about a layoff.”

“Letting people go was not an easy decision, and was made solely with the goal of providing Relic the best possible chance to survive in an increasingly volatile industry. It does not in any way reflect the expertise, passion, or character of any of the impacted employees.

“We are working closely with those affected providing severance packages, extended benefits, and outplacement support options.”

Relic Entertainment’s management said they were sorry to say goodbye to those impacted by the layoff and thanked them for their time and accomplishments at the studio.

Laid-off Relic Entertainment employees speak

Relic Entertainment Lays Off 41 Days After Splitting From Sega

Some of those impacted by the layoffs at Relic Entertainment have publicly spoken about it, with some leveraging the support of their connections to land new roles. The profile picture of most of them now wear the infamous green #ReadyToWork badge on LinkedIn.

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Principal producer Paul Goad was one of those affected by the layoff. In a lengthy post on LinkedIn, Goad recounted his experience working on Age of Empires IV and the first two expansions of the game after joining the studio. He mentioned how working in close collaboration with World’s Edge Studio at Microsoft shaped him into a more skilled developer. “Working on Age IV was a dream come true,” he said.

“Today Relic Entertainment announced layoffs at the studio, and unfortunately I have been impacted and today was my last day,” wrote senior HR business partner Kevin Lam. “I am grateful for the opportunities, growth, and relationships built working at the studio. It was a privilege to be a part of the team and learn from the brilliant minds throughout the studio.”

The most revealing post I bumped into was the one made by Keegan van der Laag who left Relic Entertainment in September 2023 after spending 6 years in the studio as a programmer.

Laag reminded those impacted by the layoffs that they had the right to be angry and should not be afraid of speaking out about how they feel using the plainest language. He faulted that people are expected to act in a certain way just to prove they are professional and “extremely capable adults”.

Relic Entertainment Lays Off 41 Days After Splitting From Sega

Reading through his post, Laag suggested that Relic Entertainment’s layoffs were due to bad management or even greed. In his words, “There’s a bunch of people hanging out playing it fast and loose with their fat chequebooks, and actual, ordinary game developers with mortgages and bills and families are the ones paying the price.”

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“So, fellow former Relicans, let me just say that I’m sorry. Sorry we all have to exist in this miserable time where our industry can’t figure out how to make a product that people want half the time, and the other half the time they won’t let anyone make it because it won’t make them enough money; a time where a game can make a bargeload of cash, and the entire studio can lose their jobs because an accountant wanted two barges.

“Nope, not even a little bit fair. We don’t need to call it an opportunity, we don’t need to be thankful for the experience we had, we really can just say it: it sucks. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not supposed to be upset, or sad, or angry. You should be.”

In 2023, it was estimated that around 10,000 video game workers lost their jobs. In the first three months of 2024, the number of layoffs in the industry already stands at over 7,000 (being conservative with the number). Many factors have been blamed for the layoffs including Larian Studios boss pegging it on Publisher greed while Xbox boss Phil Spencer said it was due to lack of growth in the industry.