UPDATE: PS All-Stars Dev Hit with Layoffs
Earlier today, the layoffs at SuperBot were confirmed by Sony in a statement to IGN, but the forthcoming DLC for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is apparently still on track:
“SCEA can confirm that SuperBot Entertainment did make a reduction in their workforce today. The studio and SCEA remain committed to supporting PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale post launch, including developing the title’s forthcoming DLC releases in the coming months. The first character pack (including Kat from Gravity Rush and Emmett Graves from Starhawk) will be available for download on February 12 and will be free for the first two weeks. We’ll be sharing news of additional upcoming content soon.”
The number of layoffs hasn’t been confirmed, nor has the reason for the layoffs. If any more information is released, we’ll update this post…but chances are this is the last we’ll hear for a while.
This week saw the utter collapse of THQ, and while many studios managed to find new homes, there are still plenty of folks either in limbo as far as their futures are concerned, or just flat-out laid off. According to a post on GameTrailers, many employees at SuperBot Entertainment, the studio tapped by Sony to develop their recently released PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale fighting game, have been laid off. The news was first Tweeted by Insomniac Studios designer Mike Birkhead:
Layoffs at Superbot. When it rains, it pours.
— Mike Birkhead (@flarkminator) January 25, 2013
The post notes that “up to 20 members of [SuperBot’s] staff” have been let go, though it’s not totally clear just why, since the game managed to move roughly half-a-million units between the PS3 and PlayStation Vita versions.
However, if I may hazard a guess? If these layoff rumors are true, I think I can pinpoint the problem to one place: Metacritic. More specifically, the game’s average Metacritic score is 74.5 between the two platforms. I’m not going to pretend to have insider knowledge that I don’t have, or say that I’ve seen the contract between Sony and SuperBot, but I have a theory. Considering the game came just last month and sold pretty well, but failed to crack 80 on Metacritic, that signals to me that their contract called for a bonus based on good reviews, much like the one between Obsidian and Bethesda for Fallout New Vegas.
When FNV failed to hit the 85 point mark on Metacritic, the developer lost a bonus they’d been more or less anticipating, and the studio had to lay off many of its staff members. Since there isn’t much else to go on, another missed Metacritic bonus seems like a likely culprit.
Until SuperBot comments on the situation one way or another, it’ll have to remain speculation. In the meantime, our sympathies go out to anyone who’s been laid off today. As too many of us are learning all the time., it’s a hell of a way to start a weekend.