Cryptic Studios, the developer of the Star Trek Online and Neverwinter MMOs, has become the latest studio to lay off employees. The studio has confirmed that "difficult personnel changes" have made as a result of parent company Embracer Group's ongoing restructuring.
Word of possible layoffs first came to light in October, when Twitter user bogorad222 (via MassivelyOP) noticed that multiple Cryptic employees had changed their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that they were looking for work.
One of them was Star Trek Online community manager Mike Fatum, who said in a LinkedIn update that "things are weird in the world right now, and it seems like the right time to open this back up. I'm an experienced Senior Community Manager, Writer, Convention Host, and Personality and I'd like to hear from you."
Oddly, Fatum said on Twitter shortly afterwards that layoffs had not actually occurred: "To further clarify, none of the teams at Cryptic have changed at this time."
Whatever the situation was in October, it's now confirmed that layoffs have occurred. "As part of the Embracer Group’s comprehensive restructuring program, Cryptic Studios will now operate under DECA Games," a Cryptic representative told Gamesindustry.biz. "In addition to this organizational change, our commitment to Embracer’s directive to reduce costs requires us to undertake difficult personnel changes, including separating from some team members.
"Cryptic Studios will provide job assistance and support those impacted to smooth this transition. Cryptic remains dedicated to supporting its cornerstone free-to-play games and the communities behind them."
DECA Games is a games-as-a-service publisher that operates as part of the Embracer Group, focusing primarily on mobile games.
It's not known how many Cryptic employees have been put out of work, but Fatum said on Twitter that "it's a difficult time for the Cryptic team right now." He also let slip some understandable frustration with Star Trek Online players who wanted reassurance, in the form of new ship teases or a development roadmap for 2024, that the game would not be affected by the cuts.
"Ok, taking off my official hat for a moment," he tweeted. "This is the second or third time today, on a day where people have lost their jobs, you've asked us to make you feel better by teasing some ships. I know you care a lot about STO. But maybe give us a minute?"
The layoffs at Cryptic are the latest in a long and ugly string of job cuts throughout the game industry in 2023. Bungie, Telltale, Epic, BioWare, Firaxis, Creative Assembly, Naughty Dog, Relic, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, CD Projekt, Activision, and others have all let employees go in the relentless pursuit of greater profits and shareholder returns. Embracer, which had grown into an industry behemoth through numerous acquisitions in recent years but fell into trouble following the unexpected collapse of a $2 billion deal in May, previously cut staff at Zen Studios and closed Saints Row studio Volition outright.
I've reached out to Cryptic for more information and will update if I receive a reply.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.