Star Citizen studio denies reports of layoffs as crowdfunding campaign sails past $600M

Gary Oldman in Squadron 42
(Image credit: Cloud Imperium Games)

As the Star Citizen crowdfunding machine somehow continues to grind ahead—the game has now surpassed a staggering $600 million in funding—developer Cloud Imperium Games says reports of widespread layoffs at the studio are false.

The $600 million mark, visible on the Roberts Space Industries funding goals page, was passed earlier this week, less than one year after the $500 million milestone was achieved. 

But it came alongside a LinkedIn message posted by Theodore Hirschfeld, a former Cloud Imperium QA tester, who said he was "recently affected by the layoffs that are transpiring at the moment."

That sparked speculation and conversation about the state of affairs at Cloud Imperium on the Starfield subreddit, including a lengthy post from someone claiming to be a former long-time ClG employee who accused the studio of financial mismanagement—although they acknowledged that they weren't actually aware of a wave of layoffs at the studio. 

Similar claims of cuts were shared anonymously on the Pipeline Discord, a server dedicated to Star Citizen leaks and discussion:

(Image credit: #Pipeline - Star Citizen Leaks (Discord))

But support for the layoff claims never solidified: No other developers reported being let go, and in fact Hirschfeld, whose LinkedIn message got the ball rolling, said in a recent update that he's still with Cloud Imperium, now as a part of the player experience team. And in a statement sent to PC Gamer, Cloud Imperium said the reports were flat-out false.

"Reports of widespread layoffs at CIG are false," a Cloud Imperium representative said. "We have grown from 900 to 1100 employees this year, due to organic growth and the completed acquisition and integration of Turbulent into CIG. As part of this process, we looked at where we could increase efficiency by making sure the key teams working together were co-located, which resulted in us determining 9 roles were better suited in other locations.

"This is natural for a company that has grown as we have, and as a normal business practice, we regularly look for ways to make our operations more efficient. We continue to recruit for key roles in the company."

There are plenty of valid reasons to be critical of Star Citizen: It's been more than 10 years since the project was revealed to the world (and even longer since development began) yet despite all that time, and $600 million in crowdfunding, the game remains in an alpha state and there's absolutely no indication as to when, or even if, it will move to beta testing. A full release is almost beyond imagining at this point. 

That's definitely unusual, to say the least, and you can understand why some followers would find the whole thing a little sketchy. But as far as firing employees while awash in cash goes, that just doesn't appear to be the case.

Update: The story originally indicated that the secondary report of Star Citizen layoffs was shared through the r/Starcitizen Discord. It actually originated on the Pipeline Discord. 

Andy Chalk

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.