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Posts about layoffs at Velan Studios started showing up on the Internet on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. However, the studio put out an official statement on Thursday, March 21, confirming the potential layoffs. According to the official statement, 46 people have been notified that their roles could be made redundant after 60 days.

Mario Kart Live Maker Velan Studios Announce Layoff Plans, 46 People Affected

Velan Studios’ founders Guha Bala and Karthik Bala

“This is hard, but we can confirm that Velan Studios is in the early stages of a reorganization that will most likely result in some amazing people, teammates, and friends leaving the studio,” wrote the studio’s founders Karthik Bala and Guha Bala in the official statement.

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“This is a rough environment for a lot of indie studios, and like them, we are faced with some very hard choices. A major project was suddenly canceled by an external partner, which means we may not be able to maintain our full studio size.

 

“Of the 121 current Velan Studios team members, 46 were given notice that they might be impacted by a layoff in 60 days. This is sad because we have an awesome team who are deeply passionate about their craft. In the near term, we are doubling down on our current games, some of which are scheduled to release later this year, and securing new partnerships to minimize the impact. We hope to rescind as many notifications as possible.”

Mario Kart Live Maker Velan Studios Announce Layoff Plans, 46 People Affected

Velan Studios employees’ group photograph

Karthik and Guha said the studio will do its best to support those employees whose notifications may not be rescinded. Mass layoffs in the gaming industry became almost a regular occurrence last year with over 10,000 people losing their jobs.

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That trend has spilled into this year with over 7,000 losing their jobs or confirmed to lose their jobs in the first three months of this year alone. Different reasons have been blamed for the ugly trend including corporate greed. Larian Studios boss recently called out publishers as being partly responsible for the layoffs.

One staff spoke in defense of Velan Studios

Mario Kart Live Maker Velan Studios Announce Layoff Plans, 46 People Affected

In most cases of layoffs, the impacted employees either stay neutral or criticize their former employer. A laid-off employee standing up for their former employer is often a rare occurrence. Nate Horsfall who worked at Velan Studios as an animator and artist was one of those sent a layoff notification.

However, in a long post shared on LinkedIn, Horsfall was full of praise for his soon-to-become ex-employer. Horsfall said the layoff at Velan Studios was not because the execs were “being heartless”. He said it was something else.

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“I write all this out because, if you have to lay people off: do it like this,” Horsfall wrote on LinkedIn. “It sucks, layoffs are never good and some people are going through truly awful situations from it, but it’s at least not heartless money grabbing from Velan as the industry has seen in droves. Everyone has tried. We’re just here now.”

Horsfall explained that according to the NY WARN Act, they were given 60 days grace during which they would get full benefits. During that time, they can also work on personal projects, “take whatever time we need, and not be penalized”.

Mario Kart Live Maker Velan Studios Announce Layoff Plans, 46 People Affected

“The over 40 people affected were allowed to start our own group, which we have done to gather ourselves and share resources, job posts and etc.,” Horsfall wrote, describing how nice his employer has been. “I was given one of the exec’s GDC passes because they no longer needed it. They let me have it since I’d be here and I’ve been using it to try drumming up support for everyone where I can find it”

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Horsfall mentioned that there was a chance that Velan could hire back some of the notified employees within 60 days if conditions changed, a possibility that was also shared in Velan Studios’ official statement.

Other notified employees including narrative designer Heather Gartner, senior environment artist Cory Hamilton, and writer Amanda Lynn have all commented on the layoff. Lynn’s story, in particular, is a must-read because it is filled with valuable lessons.


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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