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

You want the full list of critically acclaimed (and actually very good) but poor selling games or shall we just start with Psychonaughts and Beyond Good and Evil and leave it at that?

Also Metacritic. It's a good substitute for actually thinking yourself. Read the reviews, not the numbers.

Anonymous's picture

>>You want the full list of critically acclaimed (and actually very good) but poor selling games
>>or shall we just start with Psychonaughts and Beyond Good and Evil and leave it at that?

Yes - you can always find a few exceptions. That doesn't materially modify the facts:

Kromes games didn't rate very well.
Kromes games didn't sell very well.

Those aren't in dispute.

So are we going with the assumption that everybody but Krome is wrong?

I get no joy from this. My names in the credits for a bunch . But I'm not going to delude myself that Krome was awesome and misunderstood. Or shout down correct criticism.

Anonymous's picture

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Krome, 66, 64, 60
Guardians of Ga'Hoole Tantalus, no score, reviews 35, 26

Hellboy Krome, 47, 44
Hellboy Big Ant, 42, with lots of help because they couldn't get it done

Star Wars TFU Krome, 69, 67
Star Wars TFU Lucas Arts 72, 74 (going for long time before Krome got given title)

Spyro: A new beginning Krome 65, 65
Spyro: A new beginning Big Ant, no score, reviews, 40, 39

Anonymous's picture

Tantalus. Big Ant. Krome. What do these three share? Same games? Fair enough. Point conceeded. Then of course Insomniac Games must also suck by nature of the titles they develop. Why would I throw such an awesome developer like Insomniac in this mix. What could Insomniac and Krome have in common? Check it out. If you did not know this fact then it is probably past your bed time.

Spyro : Year of the Dragon. Metacritic Universal acclaim - 91. Same game? How about it's natural evolution Ratchet and Clank? Same Game?

Krome do make bad games, and yet it is really quite sad to see them gone. They were wonderfull employers and one of the few large Australian game industry foundations. They must have made some seriously bad decisions along the way to have damaged their reputation so badly to get to this point, and burnt some people pretty badly that they were just looking for a reason to tear them down.

As a business owner, if an entity caused the damage to my property, like was caused to the franchises Hellboy, Starwars, Spyro, Pinata amongst others, and proved these results consistently then would think very seriously about ever giving them access to my IP again. I might hire them for some no brainer work for hire not associated with any known property... Maybe if they were cheap enough, and I could not find anyone else to do it. It is obvious to me why they are gone and I do not understand why others can not see it.

Anonymous's picture

All I could find was about 10 Spyro games rating between 50 and 68

You may as well say Mario is it's natural evolution. Or because both have cars GTA and Forza are the same game.

Yes, Krome didn't make good games. But being constantly bagged by people who either don't make games or their own company does no better is pain the the ass. When did this industry get so full of pricks?

It's also very insulting for all studios to be tared with the same brush just because they happen to named Krome. Melbourne produced Kromes highest rating game and a lot of the people who made games like Testdrive Lemans (87) or Transformers PS2 (75, on par with the best version, way better than most) Test drive unlimited (80) are still there. Then again we used to get crap thrown back then too. Once there was more than one studio in Aus the bitter infighting started.

Anonymous's picture

If there ever was a natural evolution of one game in to another, it was Spyro in to Ratchet and Clank. Same studio, same team more or less.

Insomniac developed Spyro and cained it in. Great reviews. They then went on to develop Ratchet and Clank. Rinse. Repeat. Still in business. Great developers make great games. Bad developers make bad games. There is no arguing that, but some will. Insomniac developed a Spyro and it was great. Krome developed a Spyro and it sucked. Melbourne House developed a Transformers and it was above average. Krome developed a Transformers and it sucked.

People are asking why, and it's quite clear. They made crap games because they were a crap developer. For what ever internal reason it was, Krome generally sucked at making games.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, there were huge problems with how they made games. Melbourne was forced to a great degree to follow the methodology, were always given the left overs to do. Yes, Kromes Transformers wasn't good (61, 63) but it VERY short time frame for development. 5-6 months. It was done by Melbourne on using an engine and tools they hadn't used before as their first game under a new company. So personally I think to get 61 and 63 was a bloody good effort.

Anonymous's picture

did sell quite well. Ty, Spyro, TFU all shifted a pretty decent number of units. There were other titles that did ok, and some that flopped miserably. Again, the truth is more complicated than "all of kromes games didn't sell". Or is someone just trolling :-P

Anonymous's picture

TFU was over 1.5 million from memory, Lightsaber duels did around a million and was wii exclusive. Pretty sure at least ty1 and 2 and spyro did around a million each. Those number are purely based on memory of the odd krome sales emails back in the day.

Many of these games were also targeted at children, which doesn't help review scores. No-one is arguing these were AAA games, or even that they were decent games, but they were done on time (well, except for TFU) and they would all have made the publisher a profit on their investment.

And that was all that mattered. The haters can keep on hating, a million sales title is a solid achievement any anyone's language and likely more than many of them will ever achieve.

Anonymous's picture

But if that's all that mattered... where is Krome?

You have to make good games AND sell them. Its not one or the other.

If companies were happy to simply have Krome continue to churn out their IP to make some money, then Krome would still have some projects wouldn’t they?

The reality seems to be that they don't, and they don't respectively. It damages IP.

Not trolling or hating, but if we don’t learn lessons here then what’s the point of rebuilding?

Anonymous's picture

Please give this man a hand. You can shout this from the clouds brother but they will still not hear you. Krome made a reputation for damaging IP. The million plus titles were not selling a million because of the game. They were selling because of the IP. If you hurt the IP there is a million plus who will not buy that IP again.

Anonymous's picture

Plus you have to be careful what the numbers actually represent. Krome is notorious for quoting sell-throughs, not actual sales. Sell throughs are the units the publisher sends out to stores. These can be returned if not sold, or simply sit there for ages. Actual units sold are much lower than the "millions" they love to keep quoting about Ty etc. If you have access to the actual numbers, it's much less impressive.

Anonymous's picture

There is some truth in that commant but IMHO with the exception of Hellboy and Republic Hero's the publishers/IP owners got exactly what they expected from the majority of Krome games, which was a an average/ok game made cheaply and delivered on time (usually a year or less dev time).

To my mind it was Hellboy and Republic Hero's, that did the bulk of the damage to Krome's reputation as a reliable work for hire developer.

Anonymous's picture

There are many reasons for why bad games are being made in Aus.

It's good to look at these reasons to help for the future. One of the biggest reasons IMO is the talent drain. Salaries in Aus are not competitive and Aus tend to get the rejects from the UK and US as these guys can't get a job otherwise. I knew many guys from Canada and the UK who were not good enough to get a job but found it easier to get one at Krome etc..

Anonymous's picture

How many games given to an Australian company are given the time or budget needed to make a AAA title? Virtually zero. I know a hell of a lot of Krome titles we ones that other companies wouldn't touch because the time scale was way to small. Krome did have a good reputation with the publishers for getting a job done on time. One or two of them Krome didn't want to do because the time frame was way too short. Transformers for example. They were taken in the end because of various inducements. There is one big difference between the first Transformers and the second under Krome. The second had 5-6 months for two platforms. The first 14-16 months. Had the luxury of scrapping what had been done first up four months in because it wasn't good enough. Since the studio was publisher internal the dead lines could to moved to a point that the game was a good one.

Anonymous's picture

I know a lot of very experienced talent that has gone overseas. Very little of those that went did it for the money or the bigger projects. They went because they couldn't stand working in Australian studios. It seems every studio has some no talent guy with a huge ego and the bosses ear who has done nothing than produce a couple of mediocre flops. They think they know it all, bully and harass the more talented people if they don't become their yes men. "Yes sir, I will do it that way even though I know from past experience that it will fail miserably"
Any of you who have worked in Aussie studios knows that guy. You may even be that guy though your ego would tell you, no you are a gaming god so this doesn't apply to you.

Anonymous's picture

I have seen it a few times in the Oz studios I have worked in.
Guys come in from the US and UK with a very mediocre reputation, get a great salary and are given upper management positions to sit on their ivory tower and basically mess things up, either by losing the project, not bringing in any work (Other than their mates) or significantly contributing to the down fall of the studio. They are clever though... somehow they seem to get picked up again at another studio and the cycle continues.
I understand that's how business's are often run, with managers etc transferring, but the people doing the background checks really need to do their jobs better.

Mind you it's not just management positions littered with under skilled workers. Let's try and not look like a bunny caught in the headlights when you find out the new recruit had worked on something like God of War etc.
Because after a short time you find out they were a junior prop artist who made bottles and crates.
I was guilty of it at first, but after some experience and confidence the aura of workers from overseas quickly fades.

....unless of course it is that - guy. He seems really cool and humble. Thanks for helping suck the money out of a dying studio. You must feel so proud of yourself.
No doubt this will give him a laugh because he is beyond the rest of us.

Anonymous's picture

There are some Australian guys who do just the same thing. Some are relatives of the owner or just one of the first few employees and therefore are listened to above any other. Some just have the gift of bullshit and would probably be used car salesman if they hadn't wormed their way into a games company.

Anonymous's picture

By the same token, some of those people who came in through family or who had been there from the start are still excellent and probably deserved to be listened to. Didn't Lindsay come in after Tony? I don't know anyone who has a bad word to say about Linds. And a lot of those people who were there from the start - that's ten years of industry experience, and even if they're not bigshots and maybe not as great as some of the leads of other companies, ten years of games experience, no matter the company, is nothing to sneeze at.

Just saying, we complain that enough people aren't judged and rewarded on their own work and merits, but by the same token we shouldn't dismiss people's work just because they're related to someone high up in the company. You don't know, they might actually be good at their job.

Bullshit artists are, however, always fair game.

Anonymous's picture

Erik always seemed like an ok guy to me..his post seems a bit narky, and out of character..But i don't know what went down in Melbourne.

One statement i'm in complete agreement with is 'lack of meaningful work'. One statement i disagree somewhat with is 'lack of talent at Krome', imo this wasn't the biggest problem, it was directing talent we had (not saying it was world beating) in useful ways, that would contribute to a fun game.
Some people at Krome reckoned the company was crap because people only did 40-50 hour weeks. Some people (myself included) reckoned if we had done 70-80 hour weeks the games would only have improved in superficial ways. That's because the core methodologies were wrong.

Communication issues (leading to lack of focus and loss of clear direction), lack of work on core mechanics (fun gameplay), and tech/editor issues were bigger factors than lack of talent at Krome imo.
Again though, not saying Krome was world beating..just that with a more realistic assessment of what we produced and better methodologies we would have been in much better shape..

TheRealErikS's picture

As these threads can be a bit hard to get an overview of, so doing a repost of my original reply to the person that for some reason didnt/ havent received enough Swedish hugs, I promise that I will do my best to amend that, life without love is such a boring thing! :)

(Original Post can be found but searching for "Sweet!" with the comment amount set to 300 or so)

Cheers,

Erik S

"First of all, I must say that I am truly flattered that I have my first internet imposter, and also I must say that I am grateful how you make my English skills look so much better than the usual Swenglish I deliver! Also, kudos for catching that I spell my first name with a k not a c, something that not even governments etc are usually able to, you must have spent a lot of time on your research! :)

I havent been checking in on this forum for a while, so applogies for the late reply though.

To all of you that think it was me ('The real' Erik S) making that post, no it wasnt. On the countrary, its my belief that there were a lot of great talent at Krome and a lot of people that I will surely miss and I do hope to work together with again at some point.

So to all of you that (just like myself) were and are affected by Krome going down, the best of luck to you all and I do hope you will be able to land on your feet!

And to my imposter, I do hope that one day you will find something more meaningful to do with your life than trying to be others than yourself, and if that doesnt work out, maybe try LARP, at least you get to wear latex then :)

Kind Regards,

Erik 'The Real Deal' S"

Anonymous's picture

And this is another good reason why we shouldn't have anonymous posting on these boards. People impersonating others now and trying to paint said person in a bad light? I thought the constant negativity towards virtually every studio in the country was bad enough here but now posters are attacking actual people too (outside of the usual targets of course who are generally the studio heads).

Anonymous's picture

Ah, so it was an imposter...bizarre, truly bizarre...i thought it was way out of character...Why whomever would choose Erik to have a go at is truly strange.

Anonymous's picture

Yea impersonating someone else is not cool and dont understand what they wanted to achieve in doing this except to look foolish.
I dont have an issue with anonymous and think that it offers open (if not sometimes stray) commentary that we otherwise wouldnt hear.

NiteShok's picture

If you were involved with Krome in any way and you're interested in speaking - on or off the record - about your experiences at the company, get in touch with me. I'm writing a feature story on recent events, with a focus on what the Australian gamedev industry can learn from Krome's downsizing/closure.

andrew dot mcmillen at gmail.com

Thanks all.

Anonymous's picture

The most disappointing part for me is comments about "clear lack of support" and intimating that the staff have not/are not valued, when there have been some of us busting our balls to help people find jobs, get interviews etc.
I'm not saying that there aren't some extra things that may have been able to be done, but those of us trying to help are out of jobs too, and I had to comment because that section of Emily's post has made my blood boil.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for your thoughts anonymous, and please know I meant no offense. My words were certainly not a blanket statement, and I have seen some gallant efforts for the Krome guys. I've also seen the other side too, it seemed to have happened so quickly that's it's difficult for anyone to bounce back quickly, I think many were a little caught off guard. I meant no disrespect and feel a lot of empathy for those now out of a job- I simply hope the industry manages to hold onto the significant talent in the marketplace now.
Apologies for boiling your blood Anonymous...

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps it was a comment not thought through. In previous rounds Krome did offer some support but this time that support could not be made available as an administrator was appointed.

I am employer who has made recent hires of ex-Krome staff and like those posting above, Krome's demise saddens me greatly. I have to say that I have received a number of resumes that bear references of Krome leads/management and can see that they are doing the best that they can in difficult circumstances. In particular Kurt has sent personal email reference - I don't think anyone could ask for much more than that.

Anonymous's picture

I think I have miscommunicated, what I meant was lack of support from the disciplines that would traditionally be there to offer support as well as the industry not being large enough in australia to accommodate everyone. Kurt has been phenomenal in my dealings with him, as have several others in the leadership team. These guys too though, will no doubt be looking for a new role too. It would have been great to have seen outplacement services offered (I know this has happened in the past) and my comment was not directed at Studio Directors at all, while I don't know Walshy, the members of the leadership team that I have dealt with have been most helpful, Kurt especially. Mostly, I wish we could keep ALL the unbelievable talent from Krome in Australia, the the saddest part...

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps a good start for THQ might be to actually respond to all their job applications sent their way