When UK-based games developer Frontier announced plans to revisit the long-dormant, fan favorite Elite series, people lined up to donate to the firm’s Kickstarter. As of this moment, the fundraiser for Elite: Dangerous has raised £784,850 (a little over $1.27 million USD), and has 18 days left to pull in the remainder of its £1,250,000 goal. You’d think that at a time like this the company would be gearing up to put all that money toward the development of the game; investing in better technology, hiring new staff, that sort of thing.
Unfortunately, you’d be completely wrong. Instead, Frontier is laying people off.
As of 6PM on Friday, December 14, roughly 6 percent of Frontier’s staff received notice that they were no longer employed with the company. This morning, Frontier managing director David Walsh confirmed the layoffs to Eurogamer, saying that the roles occupied by these 14 people were redundant, and that the company plans to hire other people to better balance its developmental skill set.
“Frontier regretfully has given a total of 14 people (from a staff of 233) notice that their roles are redundant, across art (9), animation (3) and audio (2) disciplines,” Walsh stated. “This is due to the changing mix of skills requirements for our current and future projects — it is not a reflection on the company’s prospects, which remain healthy.”
Okay, that’s understandable, but isn’t it still a bit Dickensian to lay anyone off 11 days before Christmas? Walsh claims the dismissals were an effort to ensure that these employees would be able to find new employment as quickly as possible.
“Once we took the decision to make the roles redundant, we felt it was better that the affected people knew ASAP so they can plan any further expenditure over the Christmas period accordingly and focus on their search for new roles as soon as possible,” Walsh said.
Whether you believe Walsh or are currently hoping that he’s visited by a trio of spirits on Christmas Eve is a matter of personal opinion, but it does seem inarguably odd that the company would only realize and act on these redundancies once it neared its Kickstarter goal. Whether they will have any impact on the eventual quality of Elite: Dangerous is anyone’s guess at this point, but that’s really beside the point. 14 people are now out of a job in what is supposed to be the most jolly time of the year. We wish them luck.