Krome Studios hit with redundancies

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From time to time, we're privy to news about the latest round of staff redundancies from local game studios, and while I'm rather hesitant to post a news item every time that happens (which would be have been quite frequently lately), I'm certain this sort of information is helpful for those who are still actively approaching companies for game positions, particularly to others who have just been let go.

Feel free to use the comments section of this news item, and this news item alone, to post any reports on staff lay-offs or any related discussions concerning local redundancies.

The latest unfortunate and confirmed news is, however, that Krome Studios Adelaide (the studio that Krome had formed after the Ratbag Games closure in early 2006) has taken a big cut from an Australia-wide Krome Studios staff lay-off today with a drastic reduction of roughly half the studio from 36. Best wishes and hopes from tsumea that you all get back on your feet in the industry as soon as possible in these seemingly bleak times.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

By and large this is a bit of a mean spirited and irrelevant post.

Whilst networking and friends will always be important, not everyone who is a bit quieter than their team mates is a 'mean introvert' and plenty/most of the people let go were not this type at all.

Anonymous's picture

I was not referring to introverts as mean or snarky. I was describing a personality type, of which introversion is a part of. I know many introverted people who do not fit this description; perhaps I miscommunicated in my previous posts.

Mean spirited or not, the hardline truth is that communication is key. You can disagree with it, call me names, whatever. It's worked for me throughout my career, and every successful individual I've heard from. And, as has been stated on the previous page, it's a learned skill.

So everyone can communicate. The question is: who will push themselves to better themselves in this field, and who will idly stand by remain the 'victim'

Anonymous's picture

I won't argue that communication is important. That's not what i'm on about (and it is still pretty much irrelevant in this case).

I've no desire to call you names.

Anonymous's picture

Communication and a lot of sucking up to the boss. Some people have not shame...

Anonymous's picture

I bet all the boss' WoW mates are still employed, regardless of their level of 'talent' or actual real world usefulness.

designerwatts's picture

As always. Lots of anonymous smack-talk back and forth on subjects like these.

If you feel that your being made redundant wasn't fair or justified. Or if you wenrt given proper compensation and payment then there are routes you can take.

Information on unfair dismissal: http://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/2421.htm

Information on redundancy: http://www.wageline.qld.gov.au/endingemployment/redundancy.html

Talking to one of the staff at Krome I was led to believe that those made redundant where given an extra months pay so they could use that time to explore their options in looking for new work. [I was told this. I cannot confirm it to be true.] As this is more then what other studios redundancies have gotten in the industry as of late I'd consider that much a good gesture on Kromes part.

On the subject of nepotism and bosses retaining friends over the skilled. The simple fact of the matter is that your not the boss of this company and it's not your decision to make. If they retain people who you believe are only retained due to relations and not productive contribution then you need to take this on in stride and perhaps not repeat these actions later on in your career if you find yourself in a leading position.

Focus your efforts on finding a new job and moving forward in your career instead of dragging yourself down into unneeded drama.

Anonymous's picture

http://www.wageline.qld.gov.au/endingemployment/redundancy.html

After looking at that redundancy page, what's the reason that would not apply to Krome employees?

My redundancy letter (it very clearly uses the word redundancy) says this:

"Whilst you do not have a statutory or contractual entitlement to a redundancy payment Krome Studios acknowledges your commitment to the business and values your contribution. Subject to you signing the attached deed, Krome has made a decision to make a severance payment to you"

I'm not going to say the amount, which was confidential in the form I signed, but it was less than the amounts listed on that page.

I'm sure the Krome has sorted out the legal side of this, so I'm just curious as to the reasons why we are not entitled to redundancy conditions as listed on that page.

designerwatts's picture

If you wanted to investigate it into detail I would suggest you enquire a solicitor or lawyer. Our advice is probably speculation at best.

Anonymous's picture

I'm not looking for watertight legal advice, just wondering if anyone had a general idea of the reasons why (I suspect it is something Howard government related)

While I feel bad saying it, even if I was entitled to more I would not take legal action to get it anyway as I still hold out hope of the industry picking up and wouldn't want to harm future employment prospects in the small Australian industry (or even specifically with Krome in the future) by being known as a troublemaker.

Blitz's picture

It's attitudes like that, that keep the industry from improving it's standards. As long as you let employers get away with doing the wrong thing, they will keep doing it. (sometimes employers don't even know they're doing the wrong thing!)
I don't know what the deal is with these redundancies, redundancy provisions SHOULD be specified in your contract. You should check what your contract says. If the contract does specify redundancy provisions, you should contact krome and ask the reasons for why they're not paying out those provisions. If it doesn't specify provisions, or specifies provisions that are less than the standard, you should contact that website and find out where you stand. It's possible that regardless of what is in your contract, you may be entitled to those redundancy provisions.
You can probably get most of the information you need without contacting a solicitor at all (which might just end up costing you money).

designerwatts's picture

Alright then.

In my personal opinion: If Krome has done the following I believe they have correctly compensated you:

- Positions of a probationary or under 1-2 years are generally looked upon as ones that don't require a large compensation from the studio. More experienced staff being made redundant can expect the typical means of compensation which by my speculation can include:

- Paid you for outstanding pay, annual leave and sick-leave. Or per the redundancy/dismissal agreement of your contract.

- Paid you 1 month worth of pay in advance. [ I don't believe this is required. But as a gesture it looks good upon them as a company.]

- Assisted in some form of human resources to help you secure a new job. IE: Providing you industry links to employers and company's with a strong relationship to krome. I'm only completely speculating and pulling this out of thin air: but wouldn't Krome have some ties to Lucas-arts that could be investigated?

Everything said above could be completely stupid and wrong, even misleading. So please take my speculations as just that.

Blitz's picture

You're just making stuff up off the top of your head haha :)

Anonymous's picture

As Krome is a PTY. LTD. redundancy law falls under federal jurisiction not state. You need to look at "Fair Work Australia". See this web site. http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx I suggest as mentioned above that you do visit a lawyer if treated unfairly, you do have a legal right, if your payment has not been inline with 'industry standards' you do have a case.

Anonymous's picture

You don't visit a lawyer you visit the ombudsman. They do it for you and it's free. http://www.wo.gov.au

Anonymous's picture

have you thought to just query the HR guys at Krome? If you think they made a mistake in calculating your severance, just talk to them.

Anonymous's picture

I spoke to the HR people and they were actually pretty open and helpful. Everything was explained.

Anonymous's picture

I think the industry is inherently dodgey in the way it treats staff.

Other industries have unions to protect employees, and I believe this industry should too. No, I'm not a unionist usually, however, so many companies in this country treat staff like crap and it's time to pull it into line.

Thoughts?

Anonymous's picture

I would have thought the industry was in enough trouble as it is, why do you want to make it worse?

Ask people who worked in manufacturing how unionism worked out for them.

Blitz's picture

Union would just ensure even more people go overseas. Or people will just work non-union making the whole thing pointless anyway (since they would be getting paid less in a union workplace). Sure, you're always going to get graduates etc. who are willing to sign anything to get a job, but it's unlikely you're going to have a successful company just hiring juniors... People who've been in the industry a couple years should be taking responsibility for negotiating their contracts properly and making sure it doesn't try to strip them of their entitlements etc. I believe most games industry jobs these days are covered by an award which specifies the minimum redundancy entitlements (and it's illegal for the company to get you to sign a contract which specifies less entitlements than the minimum). It's been that way since the AWA's came in 4 years ago. That's federal too i believe and trumps state laws.

Anonymous's picture

Steve walks warily down the street, with the brim pulled way down low...

Anonymous's picture

I have no idea who this Steve is that you talk about, but I want to hear more about his adventures.

Anonymous's picture

it's the first line from "another one bites the dust"

Anonymous's picture

It was unions that first achieved penalty rates for weekend work (1947), removed discrimination against Indigenous Australians (1965) and then against women (1972), achieved universal maternity leave for new mothers (1979), four weeks holiday with loading (1974), the 38-hour week (1981), and compulsory employer superannuation contributions (1986).

So how much better would life be working 60 hours a week with no super and with rampant discrimination?

Go figure......

Anonymous's picture

Unions did a lot of good and provided a service that has left a lasting legacy.

However, I can;t help but notice that the last year you mentioned was 23 years ago.

In that time we have seen productive unionised labour forces ship offshore as the unions simply served to make their industries less viable. Sure, they are awesome to have if you have a job, but they really suck if your job gets taken overseas or the industry has shrunk to the point where its almost impossible to enter.

Unions wek well for industried like construction. That stuff can't be outsourced.

Ours can.

So tell me how you think unionising our industry will help see it thrive? The industry already has to live up to a minimum set of standards, so I honestly don't see what the point would be.

NathanRunge's picture

I have to agree that unionisation has it's advantages and disadvantages. I don't believe that right now is the time to attempt an introduction of a union, as employers have all the power. Those becoming members of a union would likely simply be ignored in favour of the undoubtedly hundreds of other qualified potential employees.

What would be nice is if the IGDA (which is not a union and nor should it be) would be less spineless in its advocation for fair work conditions. The IGDA acts more as a voice for developers, but has been overcome with bureaucratic back-pedalling and is effectively useless outside organising meetings. If the IGDA pushed for better conditions, with some sort of accreditation or ranking program, then something might be achieved.

Blitz's picture

I think you have it backwards. When employers have all the power IS the time for unions...that's the point, to give the employees power by grouping them together. Point is, in the games industry, employers DON'T have all the power, that's one of the reasons that a union is not worthwhile. Believe it or not, game development is a highly skilled industry, and if an employee does have the skills, they have a lot of power, employers can't just call in "scab" labour because the lack of skills will just put them out of business. Unfortunately, until employees realise that they do have the power to negotiate, and are willing to stand up and take responsibility for themselves, employers will continue to take advantage. I think the problem with the IGDA isn't it's lack of spine, but more the members of IGDA (or just employees in general) lack of spine. As you said, the IGDA isn't a union, it shouldn't be pushing employers for better conditions, it should be pushing employees to expect better conditions for themselves, but until the employees wake up and stand up, I don't think it's fair to blame the IGDA for much.

Anonymous's picture

You have no power.

What position are you in to make demands when someone else with the talent and personality required is willing to do your job?

Scratch that, is desperate to do your job?

NathanRunge's picture

While I would like to agree, I'm afraid I really can't see that being true. While Game Development is a highly skilled industry, the fact is that there are lots of people with those skills. You are assuming that those not in a theoretical union would have lesser skills, which is a fallacy. This is especially true considering if you established a union now, the majority of people would not be in it. If you argue about the job because your union says you deserve better pay, they'll simply get the guy who can do your job just as well as you can for less. Until such time as there is a labour shortage, or at least not such an over-supply, a union is not feasible. In a time of shortage or relative lack of abundance you can establish a union and, when the worse times come, you might just have enough people involve to exercise some sort of authority. Starting one now will just leave the members unemployed.

Anonymous's picture

Sorry but skills are not cheap and professionally skilled people know this. Taking the cheapest people available to complete a project will only end badly, as has been shown by the poor performance of these studios and all of the staff lay offs.

Anonymous's picture

Here is the thing.....

One person asking for better pay and conditions can be easily replaced.
50% of the staff in a company acting in unison stand a sligtly better chance.
90% of the entire skilled workforce demanding to be heard makes it impossible to be ignored.