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

And where are we now?

For me, it's a AAA 1st party job outside of Australia. But my time at Krome was awesome, and without it I wouldn't be where I am now, its just a shame it ended how it did.

Good luck with the union idea, IMHO it'll never happen.

Anonymous's picture

Dont think it's just Australia in the poo here... the whole globe is suffering. Krome did a good job they survived a lot longer than other Aussie studios... Remember? There are no new projects and the publishers are going to have no new content to offer very soon... so what happens then?

Anonymous's picture

I experienced this and I'm very lucky to get another job so quickly. I think a lot of peeps have never had to deal with this sort of thing but it happens to a lot of people all the time in all sorts of jobs. Krome was just a big indie company and if you don't get inside and start having lunch with the boss then your always at risk. Is this not true ? Have any of the 'lunch' partners been laid off yet ? Anyway...There was a mantra when we we're doing The Force Unleashed..Harden the fuck up. I don't mean to be nasty, just take what you have and start looking to the positives. Move on. If it's anything like quite a few of us, it's the best thing that could have happened. Those that get laid off last will be in the worst position. To those that do find this time very difficult I do honestly hope for the best for you and yours.

Anonymous's picture

Back in the US, in Rhode Island (a very small state), look at the level of commitment from government to gaming:

http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2010/07/27/schillings...

South Australia would never do this. They either lack vision, resources, or possibly both. They can't stop squabbling long enough to agree to anything forward-thinking for this community.

I've been here almost ten years now, and it hasn't changed a bit.

And yes, Mr. Rann, here is my name.

-Dan Thorsland

Anonymous's picture

Seems the writing was on the wall with the first round of redundancies. Krome never learn from mistakes, they just keep making the same ones over and over. Anyone with a clue that has ever worked there couldnt honestly say say it was unexpected, I could see things turning in 07-08 when I left. Krome used to swoop in and pick up the pieces whenever other studios crumbled, sad that the situation has reversed. I wish them well and perhaps they can recover.

Anonymous's picture

We can only hope that for once, Walshy and the rest of HR assess the way they operate and take some responsibility for choices made or lack of for that matter. Leaning on the 'current climate' and the 'global financial crisis' again and again is quite arrogant to other problems going on internally. Sure the GFC shook up developers, kept budgets tight and left Australia off the map to Publishers, but experiencing first hand, the way projects are approached, the way teams are managed, the lack of morale, lack of communication, lack of ambition and company direction as well as an arrogance to the fact that the tech and tools just aren't up to scratch(often answered with "but we can develop every platform on one code base") are just a few reasons the company is imploding so fast. My condolences go out to all the newly affected kromans, I'm sure you'll all land on your feet sooner or later.

Lach's picture

Things might be as you say,
but bear in mind also, once you get over about 12 people in a team working on something suddenly theres problems you speak of
- and when there's a huge team its basically natural for people to feel unimportant/disengaged, or for some to use safety in numbers to slack off,
which I guess is the attraction for all these mini dev companies- what you do 'matters' and if anyone slacks off everyone knows it immediately.

Perhaps one thing they could do is rent out spaces in their office (very very cheap) and offer seed money or an advance to small dev teams working on small games- be like a publisher and help with admin and marketing etc.

keep creative people near each other and maybe build something else that way.

Anonymous's picture

Just out of curiosity roughly how many people are still employed by Krome in brisbane?

Anonymous's picture

About 90-100.

Anonymous's picture

Really? I thought they would still be over the 200 mark...

Anonymous's picture

I'm hearing there is roughly across what is left of all 3 studios. And that number may drop again in a matter of weeks based on Kromes statement. Great guys, but in the end, an indy studio struggling in very bad times.

Anonymous's picture

Post fail... Sorry.

Anonymous's picture

This doesn't surprise me. The tactic of growing as large as you can as quickly as you can by hiring as many as you can and securing multiple projects... seems like was a really bonehead idea for weathering the impending (at the time) GFC.

It didn't work for Transmission, and it doesn't look like it is working for Krome.

Who ever preached and peddled that rubbish to the locals needs to be taken out and shot! Hopefully, he's not in a position of influence over the local industry at the moment... ;).

Anonymous's picture

I agree with this (not the shooting part), and now that Im out of the industry and in finance its interesting to see the same pattern elsewhere. For example ABC Learning was a company that had shaky earnings. The business model itself just wasn't reliably profitable. Some centers made profit, some ran at a loss. The strategy they tried was to expand by establishing new childcare centers - many of which ran at a loss too. Eventually the money ran out and they fell on their sword. Lots of people lost their jobs. And lots of people blaming the government for their demise too! The strategy doesn't work. The core business operations need to create consistent cash in flows, there is no substitute for that.

Opinions about particular companies aside, the reality is that the games industry rarely provides consistent profit, and even more rarely makes enough profit to fill the harsh winters between.

Anonymous's picture

Ok, just tarred and feathered then. Oldskool :)

Anonymous's picture

I don't know how you can apply that mentality to Krome. They made some acquisitions (years ago) and frim a financial/development release perspective managed it quite well. They did not have this sudden huge increase followed by disaster. "Disaster" struck? several years down the track (though not necessarily the main cause) partly because of industry contraction "due" to the GFC. Pubs tighten their belts, and this flows down to devs.

This is not a story of growth at all costs coming undone...

Ben

Anonymous's picture

Oh, I came to that conclusion based on meeting the guy who was preaching and peddling that stratagem to the locals years ago. There was also that "theory" batted around on these forums during that period as well by a number of individuals. You can dismiss the pattern all you want, but, I see it and know better to see past the first line of excuses given for it ;).

Anyway, this thread is a bore. It's not like we didn't see this coming. It's sad and all and many of us have been in a similar position and what not, but, life ultimately goes on... and I've got other things to do.

Anonymous's picture

its probably because most of these large studio owners dont even have a business model or know what one is.

Anonymous's picture

The 4 weeks is nearly up. Any news for a light at the end of the tunnel for these guys, or is it still looking grim in their last week?

Anonymous's picture

No news. The axe still seems guaranteed to fall in one week's time.

danthorsland's picture

I'll be hitting the pub with the Adelaide guys this afternoon -- most will be let go today. A few do remain, but more of a tech service desk for other studios. Design/art/animation is pretty much gone. Don't know about Melbourne.

Anonymous's picture

Are Blade Kitten and Guardians (of G) the only current projects for Krome? Or are there others?

Anonymous's picture

I sure hope there are other projects apart from those two.
If they are banking on those projects to carry the studio I don't see it ending well.

Anonymous's picture

Was there any developments in regard to people cut getting redundancy money? last I heard it was getting quite ugly, with employees banding together and getting fair work in to ensure some sort of payment.

Anonymous's picture

There is no legal requirement to provide redundancy in the Australian games industry because there is no award wage. Those being let go do not receive anything more than what they would be entitled to had they quit.

Anonymous's picture

Each state is different, as is each award. Programmers in Victoria have actually been elligable for redundancy since 2009. They also were up til 2006. The few years lapse due to work choices.

Anonymous's picture

Game Dev employees get screwed from all angles don't they? No overtime, low wages, no redundancy, no thank yous.. CEOs who don't have a clue how to run businesses.

We're too soft and allow them to take advantage of our love of gamedev. Let's stop bending ova for em!