It’s no secret that Crytek, the owners of the iconic shooter franchises Far Cry and Crysis, have found themselves in serious trouble lately. It was only in December last year that we reported on their closure of five studios, which was all but their Frankfurt and Kiev offices. The closures came amid reports that employees had not been paid on time or at all for up to six months. A report on Eurogamer today suggests that the troubles are far from over as fifteen staff from the company’s main office in Frankfurt, Germany have been let go. All fifteen belonged to Crytek’s internal publishing and marketing team. The report goes further, with one source apparently telling Eurogamer that staff wages for the month of December remain unpaid to date.
Comments from Crytek Managing Director Avni Yerli described the layoffs as a natural part of the company’s decision to downsize in order to, as he puts it, ‘focus on game development and technology’ referring to their current free to play shooter project Warface and ongoing efforts to licence out their proprietary game engine, CryEngine. He went on to say,
Unfortunately, one of the inevitable effects of this process has been the redundancies we are announcing today. We are extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of each and every person at Crytek, and the team members we now have to say goodbye to will receive comprehensive support that reflect that gratitude. We will also be on hand to offer whatever support we can as they seek to find new positions elsewhere that reflect their considerable talents.
The layoffs themselves, while undoubtedly devastating for those involved, are perhaps the less concerning of the developments in the report in terms of Crytek’s overall future. Certainly, layoffs in the internal publishing department make sense for a company that is no longer publishing their own games. The news that many staff at the company may still remain unpaid, however, paints a much starker picture of where Crytek currently stands as a business. Many will point to the company’s lack of focus – switching from high-end PC gaming with Crysis, to console first development with titles like Ryse, to the free to play model with Warface, to VR with Robinson: The Journey, before the more recent restructure, as a reason for their current position. Downsizing and centralizing the business would seem like a sensible response to the threat but it remains to be seen if this will be too little too late for the long-standing label.
My sympathies go out to the employees who have suffered (and perhaps continue to suffer) as a result of Crytek’s own internal crisis. While I would be deeply saddened to see a company who made two games that I love (albeit a long time ago now) disappear from the gaming landscape, it’s hard to point to anything other than executive level mismanagement for the situation they currently find themselves in.