Less than two months after releasing The Callisto Protocol's first (and last) story expansion DLC, developer Striking Distance Studios has laid off 32 employees.
As noted by VGC, the layoffs first came to light after numerous employees reported being let go by the studio. Striking Distance parent company Krafton later confirmed with IGN that a total of 32 employees had been terminated. That's a not-insignificant percentage of the studio's total headcount, which according to Striking Distance's "about us" page currently sits as 144 employees in all.
"Striking Distance Studios and Krafton have implemented strategic changes that realign the studio’s priorities to better position its current and future projects for success," Krafton said. "Unfortunately, these changes have impacted 32 employees. Honoring the invaluable contributions of each departing team member with material support in the form of outplacement services and meaningful severance packages is our top priority during this difficult moment."
The layoffs come less than a year after the release of Striking Distance's first game, The Callisto Protocol, a Dead Space-like survival horror game that made a reasonably good impression when it arrived in December 2022. It didn't break any new ground but delivered "engaging, linear sci-fi survival horror that spins a deepening dystopian yarn around dozens of stressful encounters," we said in our 79% review.
Unfortunately, launch day performance problems fuelled an ugly blowback on Steam, and while the problem was addressed fairly quickly, the evidence remains: The Callisto Protocol still bears a "mixed" rating across almost 24,000 user reviews.
The Callisto Protocol's sales were an even bigger problem, however. In January, publisher Krafton revised its expectations dramatically downward, from five million copies sold to just two million, and acknowledged that even achieving that lower figure "will not be easy." Two million units sold hardly sounds like a flop, but Krafton said at the time that it had sunk more than $161 million into The Callisto Protocol over the previous three years, and it takes more than a couple million copies out the door to recoup that kind of investment.
The final nail in the coffin may have been the release of The Callisto Protocol: Final Transmission DLC In June. It too holds just a "mixed" user rating on Steam, and tellingly the actual number of reviews is much lower than the base game: Currently just over 500 people have bothered to give it a rating.