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

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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

lol I hear ya. Too many kids in the industry don't appreciate the value of the dollar.

funkyj's picture

After 15 years of being online, I declare you, Anonymous (aka "too chickenshit to post a name") the proud winner of the inaugural Funky J "MIFOTI" award - most ignorant f*ckhead on the internet award.

Don't think I give this award to you lightly.

I've been a forum moderator, clan leader, and the site admin of a Anti-racism webpage.

I've seen the best the web has to offer in terms of ignorance, but you sir or madam are the best of the best!

Please accept this trophy, with the warmest regards of the game developer community.

Anonymous's picture

Haha epic - but necessary - response to a massive bellend. Think of the people who poured their heart and soul into trying to make the studio survive. And how they (and in many cases their families) now face uncertain futures. And you think at this point they should be in fact blaming themselves? 'Gosh darn it, I KNEW I should have thrown everything on the line and tried to enter an over-saturated, low return market?

I repeat, what a massive bellend.

Good luck Kromeans.

Anonymous's picture

Oh, and funkj is your real name huh? It's no better than 'anonymous'.

Anonymous's picture

funkj keeps it real. you keep it real shit.

if funkj is single, call me.

funkyj's picture

1) It's FunkyJ.

2) I have been online since 1995 as FunkyJ, and I own FunkyJ.com

3) I DJ as FunkyJ

4) I write as FunkyJ

5) My friends and co-workers call me FunkyJ

6) People introduce me to others as FunkyJ

6) And even your mum calls me FunkyJ

7) If you drop FunkyJ in to conversation, people would know who you are talking about.

So, pretty sure, whilst not my actual name, I'm hardly anonymous.

Anonymous's picture

Do you work in the games industry? Curious.

Anonymous's picture

The games industry is crumbling in Australia over the last 5 years and our government does even blink, it just signs another few million $ over to the movie industry. Thanks for nothing. So sad to see all this talent get evaporated. Best of luck people.

Anonymous's picture

But the difference is film makers know how to plan and budget for their movies correctly and have a sound business model for this.

The games industry doesn't.

Anonymous's picture

Australian film Returns 20% of the dollars invested by government (based on their ownreports), you think that's better than the games industry???

Anonymous's picture

Actually that is the Film AND Television industry that does 20% film alone is a LOT lower.

Anonymous's picture

As far as I know (and that might be wrong), the goverment supports developement of technology. That means Krome using their own game engine brought in money from the goverment for developing technology.

Developing their own engine has advantages, obviously.

But it has also disadvantages. Having to build everything from scratch or carrying old code from old iterations of the engine to the next generation. - And having to build all the tools. But as hard as Krome may have tried, they just can't compete with middle ware like unreal.

Noone would try rebuilding 3ds max or photoshop from scratch. So if you ask me a major factor for Krome's failure to deliver good games in the recent past was the inflexibility of their own engine.

So getting support from the goverment can be counter productive.

funkyj's picture

Are you kidding me?

Anonymous, you need to get your facts straight.

Go to the list of Australian films on wikipedia and click on the links for each film, and then come back to me and tell me how many of them made money.

Now read up on those films and come back and tell me how many were successful without government assistance.

Then explain to me exactly how an entire industry can consider itself as having a sound business model when they rely on government funding to stay in business.

Because it's certainly not very clear to me.

Anonymous's picture

I wouldn't go relying soley on a public wikipedia page for your information.

The issue is about method of production, not just profit. And professionalism/attitude of the workforce.

Yes, they require government funding as there isn't a lot of money in Australia when it comes to private funding (or studio funding), just as in games.

The point is, the actual practices they use in how they plan for films, production techniques, and professionalism of the crew, is far more sound than that in the games industry (which in most part severely lacks in each of these areas). And I think maybe thats why the government has more faith in investing in the filim industry than games. Also, games really have only gone crazy in the last few years with the general public (not just gamers( with social apps, mobile games and facebook etc. Before that, yeah they were popular but nowhere near as popular as films. Maybe you'll see a shift in government investment in games in the next few years to recognise this but this will take time. They're not dropping everything for a relatively young industry. Film has been around for 100 + years.

Anonymous's picture

Oh please! the problem is the government wouldn't know a financially sound investment from a clem 7!
and who cares how 'sound' and 'professional' their practices are if at the end of it, they never make any money!! its not like it's the thought that counts!
the unfortunate thing is that your absolutely right about the government. which just goes to show how useless they are.
and for a government who is DESPERATELY trying to mitigate the devastating effects of the mining boom (that is, when there is no dirt left)
I mean, ffs! they are willing to invest 10s of blns of dollars in the NBN! for this exact reason! surely a few million to the industry who is actually going to F***ING USE IT is a good idea!?
I mean, WE are exactly the pitch! WE are why they want to do things like the NBN, and tax the miners! so what is the F***ING POINT if they let the industry die!?

Anonymous's picture

And how do you know this???? What makes you an expert on the games industry budgets and planning? There are film makers that haven't been able to budget and plan correctly, as the same for some games company. It happens in a lot of businesses

Anonymous's picture

Same question could be asked of you.

Anonymous's picture

While I don't like what's been happening like everyone else (and was myself at krome until recently), I don't feel that government funding is really the solution. Just look at the film industry, sure people are employed as such, but are those in film supported by government funding really moving towards profitable business models?

Games development in Australia is sure to make a resurgence - it will just take time and it will be quite different than what has come before.

Anonymous's picture

The games industry is crumbling in Australia over the last 5 years and our government does even blink, it just signs another few million $ over to the movie industry. Thanks for nothing. So sad to see all this talent get evaporated. Best of luck people.

Hey clown incase you hadn't realized it, the film / vfx sector in Aus is up shit creek also. There are no jobs in 3d vfx thats why we have all left for work in London or LA

Anonymous's picture

Well, yes...Krome's biggest failure was becoming too big too quickly. Many were brought on during Force Unleashed, Clonewars, Transformers etc and when the LucasArts/Activision relationships went sour, there was just too many guys and too few projects.

Anonymous's picture

I thought their biggest failure was not making good games.

Anonymous's picture

It's true, as a former Kroman we were all dedicated to making crap games, after all why else would we work in game dev?? /sarcasm

Anyone who has actually made games for a living knows that nobody sets out to make bad games, believe it or not its not as simple as saying "make better games".

Good luck to the rest of the crew, the vast majority of you are not lacking talent, you'll land on your feet.

Anonymous's picture

I don't think anyone sets out to do a bad job, but if you aren't organised well, it doesn't matter how good individual contributors/subteams are.

At the end of the day, if you are trying to sell to public and your game/service/medical device(personal exp.) doesn't sell, then you lose your job, even if failure wasn't with the technical aspects of the product.

While it isn't as simple as saying "make better games", if you don't make good games the company folds and you are out on the street.

Anonymous's picture

I'm sorry to tell you this, but Krome and when I say Krome I mean Steve... unfortunately does set out to make below average games.
How do I know this?
I worked there once and was told about a special graph that Steve has, I believe he calls it his sh#t metre.
I thought it was a rumour until one day in his office he stood up, drew a line and at one end showed where the top games are, where the mediocre games are and where he wanted his latest flop to be positioned... guess where it was? In the below average section of the graph the sh#t section/metre as he called it.
I had no words after the meeting and neither did anyone else. It's very difficult to work for someone you don't respect when they deliberately ask you to produce low quality.
Guess that's why I quit.

Good luck to everyone who endured the last 12 months at Krome, let's hope the Aussie dollar slides back down.

Anonymous's picture

It was a graph to explain that given time/budget it wasn't expected that we would compete with Shadow Complex. And it wasn't in the below average section.

Anonymous's picture

That at least sounds realistic and reasonable. Many workers don't understand economics, or refuse to understand. You can only do so much with the crappy budgets and timelines the publishers hand you. Thinking that we can compete with such against AAA's or even a little less is childish and ignorant.

danthorsland's picture

Bad reviews are very upsetting for guys who often work night and day to ship a title. There are a lot of considerations at play doing licensed work, but to think that anyone deliberately delivers substandard work with their name on it is ridiculous. I sat and played the gold master of my last release through four times in a row in single player, to be damn sure of what I put my name to.

Everyone in that studio knew what was in that game, and what didn't make it in due to time and budget. It's not easy balancing that over two years of development.

Ask anyone who has ever sat in a lead position on a title. You make a lot of decisions, and if you think you got them all right, you're deluded.

If any of the snipy anonamoids posting here think they can do better, go for it. I hear there's some good talent in the market for a job.

Anonymous's picture

One of my jobs was to work out the length of time for the Blade Kitten cinematics based off the script. It came to over 40 minutes!
With 5 years experience working in games I suggested that was too much, especially for this type of game. We said compromises needed to be reached.
Steve agreed which was great!
But his compromise was to leave everything in the script and to lower the animation quality. As an animator, that is very disheartening to hear.
It was his personal choice to make things not as good as they could be, he was funding the game! There was no publisher at that time.
He had the time and money, he dictated it. The game was based off of his web comic and so they had to go hunt for a publisher no one came to Krome and asked Blade Kitten to be made.
Many of us understand the economics of the situation, you don't bite off more than you can chew and often less is more when you make it with quality in mind. Not "get it out the door" in mind, (and make sure it's a lot!). The workers there understanding that everything can't be AAA. It was the Creative Director of the company who doesn't/didn't understand that he needed to inspire his workers and motivate them creatively and intelligently with whatever restrictions are on the project, whether they be tech based, budget based, or experience.
While I was at Krome and working in the cinematics department on BK he never came to our department once... not once! He was the Director, he wrote the script, did the storyboards and designed the characters. So you can talk all you like about budgets and the Global economy and a whole range of issues about Krome and the industry, but when you have that kind of behaviour the results speak for themselves.

It's a terrible situation and the writing has been on the wall for many months. I wish the best to all you guys and gals who were still there.
Things move in cycles and it won't be poo forever... who knows maybe it will be the right impetus for a few small indie places to pop up.

danthorsland's picture

The first questions I would ask (if there was a post-mortem), was where in the greater scheme of things did the cinematics sit in terms of the overall success of the game? Was it vital? And how much was the quality "lowered"? Would the target audience care?

And was there a cinematics lead? Did they work directly with Steve so he could focus on things like winning contracts for the other teams, and getting BK published?

Like I said. Endless decisions when you have to operate a national studio and deliver a game. Not saying I agree with any of the decisions, but it's hard to judge until you've been there, Anonymous.

Anonymous's picture

Sorry Dan, but all that aside I'm afraid i have to side with Anon in cutscenes. If the creative director of a project never even visits the cutscenes department once, something is very wrong i'd say.