Report: 30+ Crytek UK staff have left since 2011, others go unpaid as studio struggles with financial trouble
Update: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that employees at Crytek UK had been laid off, when in fact the employees in question left voluntarily. These errors have been corrected below.
Crytek UK has lost more than 30 employees since 2011, according to a Eurogamer report. The departures include employees "who held key positions in art, design and programming" since development began on the new Homefront in 2011. News of the departures follows previous reports of financial troubles at Crytek, developers of Crysis and the Crytek Engine.
Reports of trouble came to light a few days ago in a report by German gaming site GameStar, translated by Eurogamer, which said that the development of the Xbox One exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome had been a "disaster." Managing Director Avni Yerli had apparently claimed that a new development contract, and thus a new source of revenue, was "in sight," but other companies have already begun making offers to Crytek's "top talent."
A rumor of a possible buyout by Wargaming.net, the studio behind World of Tanks and World of Warplanes, began making the rounds on Monday. When contacted, a Wargaming representative told PC Gamer that the studio was not involved in any negotiations with Crytek.
Crytek issued a statement of its own on Monday, denying the claims outright. "Regardless of what some media are reporting, mostly based on a recent article published by GameStar, the information in those reports and in the Gamestar article itself are rumors which Crytek deny," it said. "We continue to focus on the development and publishing of our upcoming titles Homefront: The Revolution, Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, Arena of Fate, and Warface, as well as providing ongoing support for our CryEngine and its licensees. We have received a lot of positive feedback during and after E3 from both gaming press and gamers, and would like to thank our loyal employees, fans and business partners for their continuous support."
Today, however, Kotaku reported more, and more detailed, claims of trouble. Four employees of Crytek Frankfurt told the site that in March, just after a conflict with Microsoft over the rights to the franchise caused the cancellation of Ryse 2, paychecks arrived two weeks late. Other employees of the studio describe a toxic internal culture in the Kotaku report, saying that while employees were waiting to be paid, co-founders Avni and Cevat Yerli continued driving their Ferraris to work while the studio spent big on everything from expensive office chairs to first-class flights for high-ranking employees. Some Crytek UK staff also said they've only been paid 30 to 40 percent of their wages, while others claim they've gone months without payment.
Crytek UK Managing Director Karl Hilton, who co-founded the studio as Free Radical in 1999, is also rumored to be leaving, although he'll apparently take on a different role in the company. One source claimed that things started to go sour as far back as the middle of 2013, when bonuses were withheld; the report states morale is low and there's a "general distrust" in management.