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Krome Studios Adelaide closed, Melbourne and Brisbane studios suffer drastic staff cuts

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*** 20/8/2010 Update:

Gamespot AU have received official confirmation from Krome Studios in a statement about the current state of affairs...

As we have seen by other recent announcements, the games industry is still going through economic challenges which Krome is not immune from. These times are challenging and as a result, although it greatly disappoints us to do this, we have put some of our staff on notice pending the outcome of a number of upcoming projects. Of course, we are looking to other new opportunities in the future.

It is important to note that this action has not affected the development of our current projects, both announced and unannounced, which we are continuing to work on. Additionally, Krome remains firmly committed to the future of all three studios.

Confirming the reports provided to tsumea as well as those posted in our comments section, both Adelaide and Melbourne studios have received a four week notice. If there is no change in Krome's current situation within a month, those studios will close up.

Studios currently with positions available for ex-Krome staff

Big Ant Studios : engine, network and AI programmers www.bigant.com
Sidhe : www.sidhe.co.nz
SEGA Studios Australia : Senior engine programmer, Lead character artist, Art director
THQ Studio Australia : Gameplay programmer, AI Programmer, Senior Engine programmer
2K Marin-Canberra : gameplay programmer, a senior designer, junior tech programmer - www.2kmarin.com
Ciniteq : Modellers, animators, testers www.qinetiq.com.au

*** 19/08/2010 original post:

Buzzing around the Twitter space is news that Krome Studios Adelaide have closed down and additional staff numbers drastically reduced at Krome Studios Melbourne and also at their main Brisbane studio. The number of staff cut at the Melbourne operation have been half of the studio. An estimated number of staff let go or are facing retrenchment is roughly over one hundred.

Additional reports say that there is a possibility that the Melbourne studio might also close in a few weeks. A four week notice has been given to staff, and if Krome's circumstances do not change within a month, then Krome Studios Melbourne will indeed close as well.

The once 400 staff strong Krome Studios have had major staff reductions in recent times, with a big round of cuts in late 2009 amidst the global financial crisis, and a further 50 employees let go in April this year.

The closure of Krome Studios Adelaide also ends the final legacy of another once mighty Australian games developer, Ratbag Games. Krome Studios had opened up operations in Adelaide back in early 2006 to house many ex-Ratbag Games staff who were left out of work when Midway abruptly closed down the studio before Christmas, 2005.

Additionally, Krome Studios Melbourne were previously Atari Melbourne House, another iconic Australia game development company who came into prominence in the 80's and were acquired by Krome Studios in late 2006.

The initial report is from Lylian developer, Robert Dowling, posting on Twitter...

(Robert) Oh no, Krome Studios Melbourne and Adelaide have closed... 60+ people from Brisbane gone. So I'm told

Games developer and ex-Ratbag Games programmer, Tony Albrecht, has confirmed the news by tweeting some additional information...

(Tony) My condolences to the Krome guys and gals that were let go today. Sometimes the Game Dev Industry sucks. Go get really drunk is my advice.

Yup - Adelaide Krome is shutting down and Melbourne and Brisbane have been cut back heavily. Krome Adelaide are already at the pub.

Offers of help and guidance

Numerous games industry personnel have posted their condolences and support via Twitter, including Games Developers Association of Australia CEO, Tony Reed, who has provided some information of jobs going at Big Ant...

(Tony) Looking for solutions for recently unemployed Krome staff. Big Ant in Melbourne are looking for engine programmers - www.bigant.com

Update from Big Ant - looking for engine, network and AI programmers. Email: jobs@bigant.com

2K Marin-Canberra is looking for a gameplay programmer, a senior designer and a junior tech programmer. www.2kmarin.com - check careers link

Ex-Pandemic, now the founder of Defiant development, a new brisbane based independant developer, Morgan Jaffit, has offered his help and guidance for any ex-Krome staff who are thinking about going into independent games development...

(Morgan) Any Brisbane (or otherwise) Kromans looking for advice on going indy, feel free to drop a line through.

ex-Brisbane developers and now Melbourne indies, The Voxel Agents, are also offering a helping hand on going indie for recently redundant Krome staff...

(The Voxel Agents) If any #krome peeps in Melbourne want advice on going indie, we would be happy to help out as we can and to share what we've learned

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 1:56 PM Permalink

Terrible news, from the rumblings I hear Krome only has one active project at the moment (not counting Blade Kitten which is a massive money sink anyway)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 2:46 PM Permalink

That's simply not true. I was in the first group of people that got made redundant from Krome Studios in November last year, and I was paid a decent redundancy payment.

I have no idea what the current group are getting or what the last one got, but from my perspective Krome treated us fairly when they let us go and paid us decently, in accordance with how long we had been employed there.

G

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/09/10 - 4:29 PM Permalink

EA unfortunately let go people before christmas, and I'm pretty sure they paid redundancies.
It wouldn't surprise me if companies like 2k Marin Canberra and Creative Assembly pay redundancies, too.

At any rate, it's probably the exception, not the rule.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 2:44 PM Permalink

They must really be on a knife edge in terms of finances then, all the previous dismissals over the past year got redundancy payments.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 2:34 PM Permalink

No requirement under law to pay redundancies actually. Federal law only introduced the concept of redundancy payments this year, and you have to accrue the required number of years from the date the legislation was introduced not when your employment started. So in reality the new redundancy laws don't kick in until next year.

I found all this out from ringing the fair work phone number.

http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Termination-of-employment/Redundancy/Pages/e…

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 2:37 PM Permalink

According to friends who work in the Brisbane office, Melbourne + Adelaide got completely wiped out.

Submitted by irous on Thu, 19/08/10 - 2:45 PM Permalink

Trying to get some confirmation on the Melbourne studio, as I've had some mixed reports saying differing things. The news came out only a short time ago and I guess you can imagine those folks who were let go are probably at the pub or emptying their desks right now.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:24 PM Permalink

4 weeks notice and the entire Melbourne studio goes under?

Whoa, as a former Kroman I feel sorry for all the people I know who have lost their jobs today, but at the same time we are also seeing the true death of one of the major pillars of Australian development.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:02 PM Permalink

With no incentive to bring work here (thank you, Canberra), why would anyone book work in Oz? Globally, there are either tax breaks or much more favourable exchange rates. And from my direct experience, the Australian film industry and it's average funding bodies are very disinclined to put $$ into gaming. Good reason or not, it's a very tough environment. Krome have done a great deal to hold the fort (they took over two studios after the U.S. walked away from them), but they can't bleed red ink forever.

Submitted by irous on Thu, 19/08/10 - 5:24 PM Permalink

"... it's a real shame that no other studios have popped up to house them."

There are some studios who have jobs available (Sega Creative Assembly, Big Ant, 2K Marin Canberra.. and a few more in our jobs section), but these days, the industry is just doing it too tough to absorb them.

It's definitely a huge change and a sign of the times when looking back at Ratbag's closure, nearly *all* the major studios at the time were clammering to interview and re-employ the staff that were let go. One studio made the effort to fly a staff member over to Adelaide to specifically to do so the next day the news broke out. And we also usually do get game companies posting or contacting us to let those staff members know of opportunities at their company after a studio closure. For the longest while, the local industry has been short of experienced staff, and especially senior staff, so things like this shouldn't be too much of a surprise to anyone.

A worrying sign, however, is that I'm not seeing the same sort of response any more. The talent is definitely there - one hundred plus employees let go is a gold mine of talent and experience.

Submitted by irous on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:23 PM Permalink

Considering the Krome Melbourne downsizing and possible closure, I'm guessing this is how AIE Melbourne was able to expand at the Atari building?

"AIE has recently expanded across the entire 8th floor of the Atari building and secured a long term leasing arrangement to ensure solid grounding for their future in Melbourne."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:26 PM Permalink

Krome Melbourne moved out of the old Atari building more than a year ago. And they were on floors 10 and 11.

Submitted by irous on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:29 PM Permalink

Righto, didn't know they had relocated.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/08/10 - 3:41 PM Permalink

Basically Infinite Interactive, Krome, Blue Tongue became all located within about a block of each other.