GameBaba Universe

Smilegate Barcelona was an AAA open-world games studio based in Barcelona, opened by Lost Ark creators, Smilegate, in 2019. The studio was created in partnership with game industry veterans. The studio was reportedly shut down, according to a message posted today on LinkedIn by the studio’s game director Stephane Blais.

Smilegate Barcelona Has Shut Down And Laid Off All Its Employees

“As our industry is starting to look more and more like a game of Battleship, it is our turn to be hit,” wrote Blais in a March 27, 2024, post on LinkedIn. “Smilegate Barcelona is closing down. All employees are being laid off.”

At the time of writing, the studio’s website could not be reached. Blais’ message did not mention the size of the employees at Smilegate Barcelona. However, going through the studio’s LinkedIn page, we found 44 linked accounts.

ALSO READPhil Spencer Blames Activision Layoffs On Lack Of Growth In The Game Industry

In terms of company size, Smilegate Barcelona’s LinkedIn page suggested that the company had between 51 and 200 employees. The conflicting nature of the numbers makes it more difficult to estimate the number of employees impacted by the closure.

“The last 6 months have been pretty intense – but allowed me to discover a fantastic and really dedicated team. All of them work so hard to try to save it,” wrote Blaise in the message.

Smilegate Barcelona Has Shut Down And Laid Off All Its Employees

Blais started his career in 2014 as an interactive storytelling teacher at Champlain College before pivoting into the game industry. He previously worked as a world/narrative director for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 5 at Ubisoft.

ALSO READHalo Co-Creator Marcus Lehto Has Nothing “Positive To Say About EA”

He also worked as a narrative design director at Eidos-Montreal on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and an undisclosed project before joining Smilegate Barcelona as a world director. He has spent only 7 months in the studio before its closure. Blais said he is ready to relocate to anywhere in Europe or the UK or return to North America.

Former Smilegate Barcelona employees have spoken about the layoff

At the time of writing, two other employees of Smilegate Barcelona have also spoken about the closure in their LinkedIn posts. Without going into details, Edouard Albert who worked at Smilegate Barcelona as a producer/ project manager said he was open to new opportunities.

Smilegate Barcelona Has Shut Down And Laid Off All Its Employees

“Well, our journey at Smilegate Barcelona has come to an end,” wrote Albert on LinkedIn. “Really appreciated my time there, working with amazing people and being able to improve on my own skill set. Now is time to look for my next adventure.”

Lead level designer Myles Kerwin also confirmed the layoff with the quote, “Hit! You sunk my battleship!” Kerwin moved from Montreal, Canada to Barcelona, Spain to join the team at Smilegate Barcelona.

“Today marked the last day of Smilegate Barcelona, as the studio is closing its doors,” Kerwin wrote on LinkedIn. “And as the Battleship metaphor implies, 2023-2024 has been shaky, and every new batch of layoffs, or studio closures, no matter how big or small, has been felt by all of us in the industry, leading to a climate of nervousness and uncertainty. And so I am joining this group who has been affected directly.”

ALSO READ13 Must-Have Video Game Accessories That Will Transform How You Play

In the slightly lengthy post, Kerwin relished all the opportunities that traveling to Barcelona has accorded him including learning a new language, experiencing a new culture, experiencing the country’s exquisite cuisines, and getting entertained by Barça.

According to Kerwin, all the devs were told to keep their PCs and monitors after the studio’s closure. Around 10,000 jobs were lost in the video game industry in 2023. That number is on its way to being toppled. In the first 3 months of 2024, over 7,000 layoffs have been announced.

Different factors have been blamed for the wave of layoffs in the industry. While accepting an award for Baldur’s Gate 3 at the Game Developers Choice Awards, Larian Studios boss Swen Vincke fingered publisher greed as being behind the layoffs in the game industry.


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.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder