Krome Studios to close doors on Monday, contractors will continue work

souri's picture

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While attendees enjoy the second and final day of the Game Connect: Asia Pacific conference held on the Gold Coast which aims to inspire local developers in these tough times, news is flooding out that just nearby, a major Brisbane based studio is on the verge of collapse.

More troubling and credible reports concerning Krome Studios are currently spilling onto Twitter as well as into our comments areas, and if these new details along with the additional reports received yesterday relating to the Emergent agreement are true, then there is considerable cause for concern for what was once Australia's largest game development studio.

The rumours began with more drastic job cuts today (confirmed to be hitting both the remaining Melbourne and Brisbane studio), but it seems to be a lot more serious for the company than that.

The current report is that Krome Studios have let go of all remaining staff, including those in their base studio in Brisbane, and will be closing their doors on Monday. Some staff will be rehired as contractors to finish some remaining work.

The latest developments at Krome Studios ends a tumultuous twelve month period for the company which had started to dwindle down as the global financial crisis hit after having just reached a milestone of 400 employees.

Beginning with the axing of 60 employees in November 2009, the company shed an additional 50 employees in April this year. Four months later in August, an undisclosed but estimated 100+ employees were further let go from Krome, marking the end for the Adelaide branch of Krome Studios.

While admirable attempts to save Krome Studios Adelaide proved unsuccessful, the closure of the both the Adelaide and Melbourne arms of Krome Studios will mark the final end for the Ratbag Games and Melbourne House legacy. Krome Studios acquired the iconic 80's games developer, Melbourne House, in late 2006 from previous owner, Atari, while a studio was opened in Adelaide by Krome to accomodate the remaining Ratbag Games staff who were left unemployed after Midway closed down the Powerslide developer in late 2005.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Closed

Everone's redundant. Some will be re-hired on contracts to finish existing projects.

Anonymous's picture

Yup

Have heard from a few people. Gone, baby, gone.

Anonymous's picture

Writing an article

I'd like to write an article on the closing of Krome, in particular looking at the factors that led to its collapse (eg. Blade Kitten, the Australian economy, possibly the poor management practices mentioned in some of the other comments...?). I'm an outsider interested in the local dev scene and I'd like to develop an understanding of why companies exist on such a fine thread here in Australia.

Please email me at psikotropika@gmail.com. Feel free to be anonymous; if I do end up writing this article I will make sure that contributors' identities are protected.

Anonymous's picture

Why not focus on 'non-entertainment' industries?

While I shirk from the term, 'Serious Games', it's a bit snappier than 'utilising games mechanics in non-entertainment industries'. But one way for local workers to possibly keep their skills worldclass, is to work on projects partnering with experts in Health, Education, Financial Services, Environment, Agriculture - or whatever - and see how experts from two disparate fields can work together to innovate and create cool (and possibly internationally marketable) original IP. In the next years, a lot of the stuff we do will involve ye olde games mechanics (eg. stroke rehabilitation using the Wii, teaching students at all levels by 'stealth' (as they play in classtime), simulations, of course, is a biggie too and loads more not even considered yet). It's going on all around, but as a country, we're not far behind - and we've certainly got the right skills locally to really make some in-roads into what will end up being a massive industry (infact probably bigger than the games industry itself because it'll involve all industry sectors). We've just got funding to investigate this through the Feds and State Govs - see http://cci.edu.au/post/the-interactive-skills-integration-scheme-isis. So, as a first suggestion, those of you who may be interested in getting involved in one major part of this - ie. 'Games for Health' - I encourage you to drop me a line at justin@60Sox.org and take it from there. Sad to read about Krome (and all the other dev cos) going belly-up, but massive other opportunities are out there...

Anonymous's picture

huge opportunity beckons, Games for Health Australia

Following up from Justin's post can I also emphasise the huge potential of the use of video games for non-entertainment purposes. You will have no doubt all heard about how much of an issue HEALTH is during the last election campaign (delivery of services to rural, regional and remote Australia etc). Health is a GROWTH INDUSTRY and worldwide represents a major headache for governments, ie how the hell do we build enough hospitals to deal with the health issues of an increasingly obese and aged society.

We are starting to see application of video game technology to dealing with many health issues (check out our Games for Health Australia group on Facebook for links). The trouble is, many off the shelf games aren't really appropriate for successful application to health. We have a great opportunity in Australia to bring together health researchers, health practitioners and health consumers with the video game developer community to build a homegrown video games that fit the bill perfectly.

At Neuroscience Research Australia we've already been able to convince the National Health and Medical Research Council that funding medical studies using video games (eg Dance Dance Revolution) is SERIOUS stuff. Mike Quigley from NBNCo is so impressed by the concept of using video games for health that he even donated his first year's salary (AUD$2M) to NeuRA to explore the possibilities of using exergames for stroke rehabilitation.

So I'd say that even though it might be desperate that companies like Krome are folding, the opportunity presents itself for game developers in Australia to take an international lead in this emerging area combining health and games. If any of you are interested in finding out more either get in touch with Justin or myself, Stu Smith (s.smith@neura.edu.au) or join our Facebook group Games for Health Australia.

Anonymous's picture

redundant

will there be any money left to pay redundancies ?? that is a lot of people who are now out of a job.

Anonymous's picture

Whatever...

Nice as the hand out may be, having no industry to support you long term is the real problem. There are very talented guys who got let go last year, and are still working as groundkeepers and bottle shop cashiers. It is really, really bad out there.

Anonymous's picture

what redundancies? people in

what redundancies?
people in the layoffs last month didn't get any redundancies...

Anonymous's picture

In court

The court hearing for the last lot of redundancy pay-outs is coincidentally also on Monday.

Anonymous's picture

Court hearing? What court

Court hearing? What court hearing? As someone as was made redundant earlier in the year - I wasn't aware of any court hearings... Please elaborate.

Anonymous's picture

Fair Work Australia Court

Fair Work Australia Court Hearing by teleconference Monday 9am Brisbane time, 10am Melbourne time to basically determine if redundancy pay is necessary for the Adelaide and Melbourne folk laid off in the previous round. Krome is QLD-based where there's no "safety net" Act to mandate redundancy pay if it's not in your contract so it took a while to wrap its head around the fact it needed to pay redundancy at all. I understand for the first two rounds, it paid redundancy because it was felt it was the "right" thing to do. Not so the third round, which spoke volumes for the dire straits Krome was in.

Anonymous's picture

I heard they had till today

I heard they had till today to provide evidence that they could not pay the Adelaide and Melbourne employees.

Anonymous's picture

updates on what? Walshy

updates on what? Walshy decided he'd had enough and was buggering off to the states with his awful girlfriend to set up shop in Seattle, leaving his employees to beg to the government's GEERS program to get their holiday and leave balances. Maybe. perhaps. In the fullness of time.

The company is dead apart from about a dozen left to finish up a few loose ends. Walshy getting married/green card on the 20th. If you ever go to the states, don't go to Blue Diamond Studios.

Anonymous's picture

Lol.

I was asking about the outcome of the fairwork case. But this info is good to know! lol at walshy, he done well for himself. Hahahaha

Anonymous's picture

Sorry

Well, all i can say is Sorry to Krome. And thanks for being such an integral part of the industry.

I hope all of you go to bigger and better things.

Anonymous's picture

Whoa, as a former Krome

Whoa, as a former Krome Employee let go in the redundancies last year I knew things were bad, but expected a small core of the team to survive. I guess that it just ultimately became too pointless trying to keep Krome around in its current form. Regardless of your views on Krome it is a sad day for the Australian games industry.

Anonymous's picture

Same here

I heard they had at least one project that was bringing in money, so I thought they'd be able to hold on to what little is left of the company.

But now it just seems like they're slowly (or quickly) dieing... :(

Anonymous's picture

Wow, RIP Krome, another hit

Wow, RIP Krome, another hit to an already under appreciated under supported industry in Australia, very sad to see

Anonymous's picture

Well from what I understand

Well from what I understand there's only one boxed game being developed atm at Krome (and milestones haven't been met/paid on that recently) the rest are downloadable or in the pitch phase.

It'll be interesting to see if they keep pouring money into Bladekitten.

Anonymous's picture

Stimulus required

But the economy is in excellent shape, right? Y.. you mean.. The Government is LYING to me?

If you don't dig it out of the ground and sell it to China, this country isn't interested, apparently.

Good luck to the guys who are out of a job now.

Anonymous's picture

The Australian economy is

The Australian economy is going good, that's half the problem at the moment. For the most part the Australian economy being so strong has been a good thing, there are just certain industries like ours that are hit negatively.

We are an industry heavily reliant on money coming in from overseas. If the publishers overseas can't afford us, then there is not much that can be done.

Anonymous's picture

How can any company survive?

How can any company survive? Except the indies

Zero funding or incentives to develop here
High Aussie$
Poor/zero management
Disgruntled workforce .not by their fault, but because they've invested so much of their lives. long hours etc all for nothing for employers who don't reward or appreciate them
CEOs who don't give a dam about games only the $$$$$$$ and have zero insight

Anonymous's picture

Vale Krome

Krome has employed hundreds of Australians and many international staff for many years, as well as prolonging the existence of the former Melbourne House/Atari studio in Melbourne by three years.

Anonymous's picture

LOL

Yes..international staff...who did bugger all. The douche bags at the top will still admit they made good investments though.

Anonymous's picture

wow

wow, what a completely uninformed ignorant comment, along with many others on this thread. as a general life rule, don't make comments unless u know what you're talking about.

Anonymous's picture

ummm life is what you make of it....

i feel bad that people lost there jobs, but don't blame economy for this crap. And to the commentor that talks about people still working at bottle stores etc. Well they should do something about it and write games for app stores, if the gaming economy is crap then do something about it!

You only have yourself to blame...

Anonymous's picture

Many are writing apps

But how many can pay the bills doing that? It takes time to build a business, even a small one. And saying that people who once made a living in a grueling biz like console dev lack drive is clueless and insulting.

Anonymous's picture

err, when you have a mortgage

err, when you have a mortgage and a kids, you do what you gotta do to make ends meet pal. When the average iphone game make 700 dollars it's just not possible, unless you still live with your parents.

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