THQ has confirmed to Develop that they have closed two studios. The New York based Kaos Studios, most noted for Homefront, is being disbanded, with workers there being given the opportunity to move to their studio in Montreal or find other employment. In addition, the 46 members of UK-based Digital Warrington have been put on notice that their jobs are in jeopardy. While there could be a core team left behind, it is likely that the studio’s memberbase will be released, with open houses being given for those left without employment. Digital Warrington, previously known as Juice, was most recently responsible for Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team.
The Kaos closure comes after a worker at Kaos sent Develop a long report about a seven day “crunch” period as THQ was insistent on getting Homefront out before the end of the fiscal year. That report came after Danny Bilson tweeted something about a “thousand yard stare” at the company, which was seen as glorifying the crunch. Kaos manager David Votypka retorted some of the complaints to Develop.
Homefront was a financially successful title for THQ, but saw mixed reviews online. The Xbox 360 version has an average score of 70 on review aggregating site Metacritic.
Analysis: These moves are due to one thing, and one thing only: taxes. Quebec has heavily supported game development with massive tax breaks, and the UK’s been in a battle over tax breaks for some time, a fight which has been recently lost by the game development community since the Cameron administration took over Britain. Basically, the beancounters at THQ won again.
Now, imagine you’re someone who worked for Kaos. You were under never-ending crunch for months. You finally got the game out, at which point it was heavily implied that the crunch continued due to DLC. You suffered the indignity of THQ’s top brass making fun of your situation on Twitter. Now, your game is out, and people didn’t like it. No wonder they didn’t like it; you were burned the hell out. But the game made money, and that’s important to THQ. Now, you’re brought into some middle manager’s office, and being told that hey, thanks for the work Brian – is it Brian? No? Oh, well no matter – but we’re closing up shop here and shoving everyone off to our Montreal studio. I mean, sure, you can come if you want, if you like moving to a foreign country under a visa, and living in a province where everyone speaks French and hates you if you don’t, but if not, well, pack your shit, bucko.
Why anyone would want to develop AAA titles at this point is beyond me. Hell, why anyone would want to make video games at this point is beyond me. It seems like the only options are either 1) never-ending crunch at a AAA studio, 2) developing chintzy mobile games, or 3) developing soul-sucking “social” games for Facebook. My word.
The Kaos insider said that all people wanted was to be appreciated. I think it’s obvious how much THQ “appreciated” them.