Lots of layoffs happening right now in the games industry. Including a closure of company that produced games for the Meta Quest.
Layoffs for developers who work in video games isn’t a new thing. In fact, it is a pretty normal part of a game’s development life-cycle. Development for a game typically starts with a smaller number of people as they do prototyping and proof-of-concept work for the game. Once they get into the core of the development, they will typically hire more staff to handle the workload. Once the game is launched, there isn’t the need to have so many staff members anymore, and they will decrease their headcount until the cycle repeats.
What seems different this year is just the sheer number of layoffs happening, when we are only 20 days into 2024.
As reported by Kotaku, in 2023 there were around 6,000 people laid off from various game companies. In the last 20 days, that number is already up to 3,400+. Kotaku plans to update the article over time, to provide a true comparison year-over-year of the amount of layoffs. So, check it regularly if you wish to track the changes.
One of the companies that has been affected is Wimo Games. If you don’t know them, they were the developer for Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem, which launched just 16 days ago on the Meta Quest platform. They were also the developer for Battle Bows on Meta Quest, which launched last year.
Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem doesn’t have many reviews on OpenCritic. The little reviews that it does have, explain that the premise of the game is promising, but ultimately it lacks any excitement.
Having watched some gameplay for the game, it does show the bones of what could be a good game. As someone who grew up playing with Micro Machines, I could see getting enjoyment from building tracks and racing on them... if there were some improvements made to the core gameplay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will ever get the chance to become something more than it is.
Do all these layoff signal a change in the demand for games, or a slowing of the games industry? Or, is this just business as usual? Time will tell. Even though it stinks for the developers who are getting laid off currently, I am hoping for the latter. Typically a strong games industry means more quality games being released, which is a win for everyone.