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Video game developers usually reserve press releases for bragging about how many copies of their latest AAA shooter they’ve sold, but this is not the case for Crytek. The company behind Crysis announced that they are refocusing their strategy and, sadly, shutting down five of their studios, leaving only their headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany and an additional studio in Kiev, Ukraine intact. This is unfortunate, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the recent reports that they’ve had trouble paying their employees for the better part of 2016.
The studios affected by this announcement include Crytek satellite branches in Hungary, Bulgaria, South Korea, China and Turkey. Considering Crytek has over 700 employees across all these locations, that’s a lot of people being put out of work just before the holidays. This could be considered a Scrooge move, but most of them weren’t being paid anyway, so its not like they were better off before.
Most readers might find it surprising that Crytek had so many studios to begin with when the company has so very few games to show for it, and that may be part of the reason behind their financial troubles. However, Crytek is planning to fix this problem–short of a complete company shut down–thanks to a “refocus on its core strengths of developing innovative games and game-development technology.” Crytek also had this to say:
Crytek will concentrate on development in its Frankfurt and Kiev studios and continue to develop and work on premium IPs. CRYENGINE will remain a core pillar of Crytek’s overall strategy, with enterprise licensees and indie developers alike continuing to be served by regular engine updates. All other development studios will not remain within Crytek and management has put plans into action to secure jobs and to ensure a smooth transition and stable future.
So on the plus side, it appears that Crytek will at least try to help its former employees find work elsewhere in the industry.
This news comes after just a week after it was revealed that Crytek had failed to pay its employees for the past several months. The news came out on Reddit, after an anonymous employee announced that he and many of his coworkers had been experiencing payment interruptions since May of this year, with some employees working without pay for that entire duration.
Similar reports started to spread throughout the web, revealing that Crytek might be facing a financial crisis. According to a report on Kitguru, Crytek is totally out of money, company co-founder and president Cevat Yerli hasn’t been to work in months, multiple studios haven’t been paid and employees are leaving the company en masse. All these events were feeling too familiar for the developer’s employees. The same thing happened to Crytek back in 2014 following the poor reception to the Xbox One exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome. That failure also led to the shut down of another studio, Crytek USA.
There have been a few new developments since the initial announcement that employees weren’t being paid a week ago (aside from the studios being shut down). Last week, an employee started a GoFundMe to help sue Crytek to get his wages back. That campaign was ultimately shut down by GoFundMe. Kotaku also reported last week that Crytek managed to pay their Frankfurt staff for October, and promised that November wages will be arriving this week in time for Christmas. Sadly, that does not apply for all the other now former employees around the world, but since they are developers that have worked on AAA games in the past, there’s no doubt that they should have a reasonably easy time finding work elsewhere.