Within the last few years, video game industry layoffs have unfortunately become more commonplace. In 2023, we saw near-weekly layoffs across the entire industry. When the dust had settled, at least 6,000 jobs across publishers, developers, and other video game-related companies had happened. Sadly, it appears 2024 will outpace that, if the first few weeks of the year are any indication.
Most folks didn’t expect 2024 to be much better, but I’m not sure anyone was ready for it to be possibly worse—yet this year has kicked off with a string of big and small layoffs signaling that the corporate bloodletting rituals aren’t ending anytime soon. So Kotaku is going to try and track all of 2024’s layoffs as they happen. Hopefully, we don’t have to update this post that much.
Archiact – Unknown
On January 4, 2024, the first round of video game layoffs (that we know of) happened at VR games developer Archiact. The company, known for its Doom 3 VR port, announced on social media that it had laid off an unspecified number of staff.
“We are working with these individuals to offset this difficult transition as much as possible, including through reverse recruiting,” said the studio in its announcement post.
Bossa Studios – 19 people
This technically happened in late 2023, but was reported and confirmed on January 5, 2024. According to Gameindustry.biz, 19 people were cut from the studio. The layoffs were mostly QA and production roles as well as some non-UK employees.
Unity Software – 1,800 people
On January 8, 2024, Reuters reported the first truly massive round of layoffs for the year as Unity confirmed that it planned to cut nearly 25% of its staff as part of a continued “reset” at the company. This is reportedly the largest round of layoffs in the software company’s history and it will be completed by the end of March.
Twitch – 500 people
On January 9, 2024, Bloomberg reported that Twitch was preparing to lay off 500 employees by the end of January. This is about 35% of its total staff. The Amazon-owned video game streaming website previously laid off hundreds of employees last year in March and later in October.
Playtika – 300-400 people
As reported by CTech on January 11, 2024, mobile game publisher and developer Playtika plans to lay off up to 400 employees, or about 10% of the company’s total workforce. Playtika previously laid off 900 employees in 2022. In 2023, the company agreed to pay up to $300 million to acquire Innplay Labs, another mobile developer.
Discord – 170 people
The Verge reported on January 11, 2024 that popular video game chat software developer Discord was planning to lay off around 17% of the company’s total staff. The layoffs were announced in an all-hands meeting and an internal memo obtained by The Verge. CEO Jason Citron explained in the memo that the company had grown “quickly” since 2020 and took on too many projects.
“Today, we are increasingly clear on the need to sharpen our focus and improve the way we work together to bring more agility to our organization,” Citron told employees in the memo. “This is what largely drove the decision to reduce the size of our workforce.”
Lost Boys Interactive – Unknown
On January 12, Aftermath reported that an unknown amount of employees at Gearbox-owned developer Lost Boys Interactive had been laid off.
“It seems a sizable portion of Lost Boys Interactive was laid off today, including myself,” wrote Jared Pace, a producer at the studio, on Linkedin. Pace reportedly told Aftermath that layoffs “affected all disciplines at all levels.”
As of January 11, 2024, at least 2,789 people have been (or will be) laid off this year.
The video game industry is bigger and makes more money than movies and music combined, bringing in $180 billion in 2021 alone. It’s also an industry that becomes riskier and more expensive each year as AAA games take longer and cost more to make, leading to a situation where even a single flop can sink a studio or publisher. And the whole industry is also in desperate need of unions to help protect its millions of workers when things don’t work out as planned.
Until then, corporate greed, industry consolidation, and poor leadership will likely continue to cost thousands of people their jobs as we’ve seen at Twitch and Unity.