Embracer reportedly guts another studio in the wake of its dead-in-the-water $2 billion deal

A lineup of characters from Circus Electrique.
(Image credit: Zen Studios)

Embracer's scythe continues to swing in the wake of a collapsed $2 billion deal, and the latest victim, reportedly, is Zen Studios. According to Videogamelayoffs, one of its sources at the Hungarian studio told it that 32 staffers at the Pinball FX studio were laid off last Friday.

Acquired by Embracer subsidiary Saber Interactive in 2020, these reports would make Zen the latest in a long line of layoffs across Embracer's many, many studios. This year alone has seen 26 staff lose their jobs at Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition company Beamdog and the wholesale closure of Saints Row maker Volition, a studio with 30 years of history behind it. More are likely to come, if the company's foreboding talk of a "comprehensive" restructuring earlier in the year is to be believed.

Embracer's panicked bloodletting was sparked by the collapse of a lucrative deal with a firm reported to be the Saudi Arabian Savvy Games Group, but it's not the only corporation doing a bit of slash and burn this year. Among many others, Elite Dangerous studio Frontier Developments announced a raft of layoffs just this week, Paradox laid off workers at Harebrained Schemes before parting ways with the company entirely, and CD Projekt Red announced a cut of "roughly 9%" of its staff last July.

If there's a glimmer of hope to be had here, it's that the CDPR layoffs were at least followed by the formation of the Polish Gamedev Workers Union, which is open to devs across Poland and which believes that "mass lay-offs are a danger to the gamedev industry."

A GI.biz reporter reached out to Embracer for comment on this story, and received a fairly boilerplate response that the company doesn't comment on specific studios, though it did reiterate that its restructuring program involves "the closing of studios". I've reached out to Zen Studios as well as Embracer (hey, you never know) and I'll update this piece if I extract any more blood from that stone. 

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.