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

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Shit! Now I'm going to have to sell my house!

AdelaideSnackMachineGuy

Anonymous's picture

Greed killed the company - they grew too quickly and with no sustainable business model

Just growth based on hope

Sad news

souri's picture

I don't think they grew too fast too quickly. It was a slow and gradual process of them reaching 400 employees which was occasionally boosted by the two acquisitions they did of Ratbag Games and Melbourne House.

You know, I actually had a chance to have a chat with Krome CEO / co-founder, Robert Walsh, back at Game Connect: 2007 about the focus that Krome Studios had at the time (and still did until very recently) - how Krome Studios was parallelling the path taken by Melbourne House by initially starting out with some great original I.P which boosted the profile and potential of their companies but then concentrated purely on contract work of licensed games and I.P not of their own.

Just remembering all that I've read about Melbourne House concentrating too heavily on developing licensed games for the Nintendo and how it led to the downfall of the studio brought me to ask whether Krome were heading down the same path.

I still do see similarities between Melbourne House and Krome, and I do hope that Krome doesn't suffer the same fate (a very, very slow hemorrhaging of employees, an acquisition, and then fading into obscurity).

Anonymous's picture

While I never worked at Krome, I dealt with all 3 studios to a minor degree and there's no question in my mind that Krome grew too quickly. Ratbag and Melbourne House were never really integrated properly. I was disappointed by how few improvements in tech and working practices made it from Melbourne to Brisbane, and from Brisbane to Adelaide.

Good people in a bad situation. Here's hoping I see those good people in good situations!

Anonymous's picture

Adelaide was a sensible option at the time, Melbourne House even Walshie said was a risk when he bought them out (and I think overall one that paid off just due to the high productivity of the studio).

The issue a lot of krome'ers had was when they hired a great many Pandemic staff after it went out of business. The GFC was already in full swing when they took on these employers.

Anonymous's picture

I hope everyone who has been let go finds somewhere else to work as soon as possible and wish them the best of luck in the future. I worked at Krome for about a year, and moved back to Perth to work at Interzone which as some of you may know, shut down during February of this year with no outstanding or severance pay being paid out.

I hope that Krome does the right thing and pays out what they can afford to, unlike the IZ owners who cut and run and have now started another games company under a new name using the game made by the ex-IZ'ers.

Best wishes to you all.

Anonymous's picture

Sorry to hear about the lay offs. Good time to look into the best and most stable option, self employment!

Working for a game developer who has one client, (a publisher) = high risk.
Working for yourself for 100's or 1000's of customers/gamers = goodness.

Good luck.

Anonymous's picture

And what do they get to live off in the meanwhile? Their severance pay? Many of those affected have families to support, you can't just take 6 months off to build the game you've always been wanting to build in the hope it all pans out.

Anonymous's picture

Australia worries that it's talent is going overseas? This is why. You just can't support yourself making games, and the cost of living isn't helping.

Anonymous's picture

Every situation is different. Obviously if you have debts, family, etc you can't just take time off (unless your spouse or family can support you). I would highly recommend moving away from being an employee (especially in games) and hence getting laid off over and over again, or dealing with all the stress. Whether that's by working part time or after work or something else, you have to figure that out. There are numerous options available for someone with programming or art skills that don't necessarily have to be 'the next big huge game', or even in the games industry. But there are an increasing number of 1-2 man indie devs making money in an environment where people can't as easily afford a $700 console and $100 games.

Anonymous's picture

it is sad to see it happen. krome is now running on a very skeleton staff. hoping to get some work. currently they have nothing. if work doesnt come in then the studio will most likely shut down completely in the coming months.

how did it go from such a huge success employing over 400 people in 3 studios to now almost nothing and only 1 1/2 studios left?

unfortunately after even 3 rounds of redundancy. not one person in management or a lead position has been let go. they should have gone in round 1.

Anonymous's picture

I feel for those that have just been let go, and those whos jobs are very likely to go.

It makes me even more doubtful that i will now get a job after i graduate with a degree in Games Design in December. 60+ people back into the job pool all with experience puts me at the bottom of the application pile.

The prospect of starting an indy with a few mates from college is sounding more and more like a good idea.

Good Luck to those who are looking for work in and out of the industry now.

funkyj's picture

It's so heartwarming to see so many people are so knowledgeable and passionate about Australia's gaming situation they're willing to share their views and convictions by putting their names to their posts.

Anonymous's picture

What could be gained by doing so?

Anonymous's picture

a bit less cool story tolololing?

Anonymous's picture

If you removed every anonymous post in here, there would eb no discussion or information.

Anonymous's picture

Yes that would be true by Anonymous.

Thankyou, I'll be here all week!

Anonymous's picture

I hear THQ Brisbane have some opennings too.

SimonB's picture

Devastating. Good luck to all those who lost their jobs.

Anonymous's picture

Did Kurt Busch lose his job and fuck off back to that hole called America?
I very much doubt it.

No he will hang around until his payout, once the company has completely sunk. Great investment Robert and Steve. Well done.

Anonymous's picture

Not to mention ingus and dingus "marcus and Fergus" in the brisbane studio, bring in top execs to flail around and send developpment backwards due to knee jerk reactions to what ever walsh and steve want. What a joke

Mario's picture

Sorry to hear the news.

Sidhe has a few openings if people are willing to jump the ditch (we have a couple of ex-Kromeans from the last round of layoffs now with us who seem to be enjoying it).

Anonymous's picture

Sorry to hear of even more cuts in our industry. It's not the end of the world tho, it's just a recalibration of the business models - market forces do these things... The huge growth of casual gaming and with it, the adoption of digital distribution, is seeing some great new stuff coming out of Australia. Interesting that many of the guys who used to work - or even run - the bigger dev companies that have gone down are now turning their attentions to casual games (John Passfield's move into 3 Blokes comes to mind). But if there's a huge area for people with interactive media skills to tap into, it's in cross industry opportunities. Think how Newcastle's Bohemia Interactive now have the whole world sewn-up with the VBS2 (for military training simulations) - how else can 'games' skills be applied to other industries? For huge growth areas in Australia for these skills (not just simulations, but other adaptations of interactive media skills) are in industry sectors such as Education and Health - think, for example, stroke rehabilitation using a Wii. The opportunities are massive and we're not that far behind the rest of the world. Agriculture, Business Services, Public Collections (eg. the bigger libraries/museums) - all could (and will) benefit from integrating interactive media applications - question is, who's going to create them? We could make them here and sell the idea to countries all around the world...

It's a freaky time, but Aussies are clever and we'll be right... there's too much good talent around for us not to.

Justin Brow

Jon Newell's picture

Condolences guys, being layed of sucks. We can accommodate a few modellers animators and testers here, if anyone is looking get in touch.

Anonymous's picture

Hi John

I would definetly be interested in a testers position if available (also have moderate knowlege for modeling)

How can we contact you?

Regards

Rohan

Anonymous's picture

Hi Jon,
Is the position located in Melbourne? I have previous testing experience with a modern flight simulator game and would like to apply for the position.
Thanks

Anonymous's picture

The Aussie industry seems to have been abandoned by the international publishers, and who can blame them. In the financial crisis they want to maximize profits and are solely focusing on sequels and proven licenses. And the aussie industry doesnt seem to be able to churn out anything AAA. So the bargain bin games have been dished out to other much cheaper Developers. Fuckin simple. So we are left for Dead!

Anonymous's picture

I love how tony's solution is to go get really drunk. lol.

Anonymous's picture

As somebody who got made redundant by Krome a while back getting really drunk worked pretty damn well as a way to close out a shitty day.

A sound suggestion I reckon.

Anonymous's picture

Getting drunk is a nice idea for one day. What's the idea the day after? Sleep in? Let's not give in and give up, folks.

We needed a union (never got it), let's keep in the community at very least and start as many guerilla studios as we can.