Report: Obsidian Hit With Layoffs, Unannounced Project Canceled

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Posted by Alex (2293 posts) -

Sour news to kick off this morning, as Joystiq is reporting that Obsidian Entertainment, the role-playing game-focused developer of titles like Fallout: New Vegas and Neverwinter Nights 2, has been hit with a number of layoffs. Citing a tip received overnight, as well as a number of tweets and forum posts on the official Obsidian website, the report claims that as many as 20-30 employees from various divisions were cut loose, including an employee hired on as recently as this past Monday.

Many of the staffers apparently let go were working on an upcoming, as-yet-unannounced project that had been codenamed "Project North Carolina," which is now purportedly canceled. However, some were staffers that had been working on the upcoming South Park RPG, which will be published by THQ.

Those affected reportedly include lead programmer Frank Kowalkowski, who had been with the company for a little more than eight and a half years, as well as lead producer Jason Fader.

Obsidian has yet to release an official statement on the layoffs. We'll update this story if/when they do.

#1 Posted by Alex (2293 posts) -

Sour news to kick off this morning, as Joystiq is reporting that Obsidian Entertainment, the role-playing game-focused developer of titles like Fallout: New Vegas and Neverwinter Nights 2, has been hit with a number of layoffs. Citing a tip received overnight, as well as a number of tweets and forum posts on the official Obsidian website, the report claims that as many as 20-30 employees from various divisions were cut loose, including an employee hired on as recently as this past Monday.

Many of the staffers apparently let go were working on an upcoming, as-yet-unannounced project that had been codenamed "Project North Carolina," which is now purportedly canceled. However, some were staffers that had been working on the upcoming South Park RPG, which will be published by THQ.

Those affected reportedly include lead programmer Frank Kowalkowski, who had been with the company for a little more than eight and a half years, as well as lead producer Jason Fader.

Obsidian has yet to release an official statement on the layoffs. We'll update this story if/when they do.

#2 Posted by ttocs (765 posts) -

Another day, another round of layoffs for a game studio.

#3 Posted by JimmyPancakes (120 posts) -

South Park RPG not cancelled. Everythings going to be okay.

#4 Posted by Morningstar (2188 posts) -

Awww, this is bad news =(

#5 Posted by dandead (171 posts) -

Wow that sucks... :(

#6 Posted by Sapp (17 posts) -

But why Obsidian? Why the good guys?

#7 Posted by Hailinel (25179 posts) -

My sympathies to those affected. Being laid off sucks, and I hope that they all land back on their feet soon.

#8 Posted by James_Giant_Peach (751 posts) -

Well dude that sucks.

#9 Posted by BigDaddy81 (330 posts) -

Here's hoping that Steve, aka the entire QA department, wasn't let go.

#10 Posted by Krystal_Sackful (810 posts) -

Shit! This is terrible. That picture is perfect Alex.

#11 Posted by RE_Player1 (7563 posts) -

But I love Obsidian :(

#12 Posted by Tennmuerti (8136 posts) -

balls

#13 Posted by Arrested_Developer (729 posts) -

I blame Rorie and his golden parachute.

#14 Posted by Brodehouse (10072 posts) -

Man, Obsidian has the best writing in games. Like, period.

This is a bummer.

They have the rights to Alpha Protocol. Avellone mentioned Kickstarter is interesting. I will give them 200 dollars, and I make minimum wage.

#15 Posted by Phatmac (5726 posts) -

Nooo :(

#16 Posted by TobbRobb (4732 posts) -

NO WHY!? Obsidian don't go away, I still looooove yooooou.

I bought Dungeon Siege dammit, PLEASE STAY.

#17 Posted by Chris2KLee (2337 posts) -

Bummer news. I've had issues with the studio's games on a technical level, but there is always great stuff to be found in them. I really hope this isn't signs of darker times to come for them. They are a studio I really keep hoping get' their big hit. Didn't know THQ was publishing the South Park RPG, doesn't exactly fill me with confidence about the future of the project now.

#18 Posted by PenguinDust (12553 posts) -

I really foresee a future (perhaps it's already here) where every game is made by a temporary studio for that single release. When it's done, they're all fired and the mad dash to be on the next game begins.

#19 Posted by louiedog (2335 posts) -

@BigDaddy81 said:

Here's hoping that Steve, aka the entire QA department, wasn't let go.

Obsidian has one of the oddest reputations in the industry. A lot of people look forward to their games, many end up loving them and praising them, but no one expects polish, technical quality, or a smooth experience playing them.

#20 Posted by kurtkless (89 posts) -

wonder what that project was

#21 Posted by Winternet (8025 posts) -

This is pretty awful news.

I just hope the secret project wasn't Alpha Protocol 2, because they totally should another Alpha Protocol game.

#22 Posted by WJist (314 posts) -

So I just watched Code Monkeys for the first time...and the episode I was introduced to was the one where all the Game Devs are fired and have to take jobs at the mall. I hope those impacted get jobs back in game development, the people at Obsidian had some neat takes on RPGs.

#23 Posted by MikkaQ (10317 posts) -

That's a bummer, I hope those affected are lucky enough to get back on their feet quickly.

#24 Posted by Sweep (8921 posts) -

Well, that sucks :/

Moderator
#25 Posted by BigDaddy81 (330 posts) -

@louiedog: I know, I am one of those people. I actually think Obsidian is one of the few developers that would benefit immensely if they were bought by a large publisher. Preferably not EA or Activision though. 2K maybe?

#26 Posted by DevWil (842 posts) -

HEY. i don't like this.

#27 Posted by Gabriel (4067 posts) -

"...including an employee hired on as recently as this past Monday"

Damn, talk about disappointing.

#28 Posted by Jimbo (9866 posts) -

Sadness. One of my favourite devs. Hopefully things aren't too bad over there.

#29 Posted by owl_of_minerva (1455 posts) -

Goddamn it, I was looking forward to the small-scale tactical RPG that was apparently being worked on. At least there's Wasteland 2.

#30 Edited by deerokus (559 posts) -

@Winternet: Sadly, I don't think that will ever happen. A more polished sequel would be fantastic*.

*A lot of the complaints some had about that game were down to the poor gunplay and general low-budget feel of it, but the same thing must be said of the first Mass Effect game, for example. And that series is far less ambitious than AP.

#31 Posted by EvilSpants (41 posts) -

While it is always sad to see the layoff of developers, Obsidian made buggy games. Knights of The Old Republic II, Alpha Protocol, Fallout New Vegas are prime examples. They can write a good story, but they can't make a good game.

#32 Posted by mewarmo990 (837 posts) -

@louiedog said:

@BigDaddy81 said:

Here's hoping that Steve, aka the entire QA department, wasn't let go.

Obsidian has one of the oddest reputations in the industry. A lot of people look forward to their games, many end up loving them and praising them, but no one expects polish, technical quality, or a smooth experience playing them.

I guess it's a case of people enjoying their games enough to be willing to overlook technical flaws. Which is a credit to Obsidian's creative team, really, but I wish there were more QA.

#33 Posted by imooumoo (43 posts) -

Obsidian deserves better then this. Although, I'm not sure I recognize the company after the Southpark game announcement.

#34 Posted by Cross (51 posts) -

Quite surprising to me, considering the success of New Vegas, and it's too late for Alpha Protocol to still have ramifications.

#35 Edited by Baal_Sagoth (1272 posts) -

Fucking hell. Obsidian is one of my favorite developers, especially among the ones that are still existing. It's heart-breaking to see people still being true to exceptionally written, truly interactive stories paying such a bitter price. Even with their flawed level of polish at times. Man sometimes it's really hard to not rage at the current state of gaming. People throw thousands of dollars at "indie" nostalgia-trips, sometimes based on pure faith, worship game stories that barely deserve that name and the Obsidian guys struggle to even make a living at all? Fuck this shit!

@Winternet: Dude, I'd be SO up for a continuation of that outstanding game! It was a great first attempt but has plenty of room to grow too - It'd be perfect for a sequel.

@EvilSpants said:

They can write a good story, but they can't make a good game.

Obsidian is one of the few developers where you can't lazily apply your mainstream game logic. The highly interactive story IS such a big part of their games. There isn't any of the clear cut Bioware-esque duality of mediocre gameplay and cinematic presentation of " I wanna be a boyscout" or "Ima total sociopath". There is some (often) flawed action and mostly interactive fiction in an Obsidian game, at least that's my take.

#36 Posted by whylessness (77 posts) -

New Vegas was sooo good :/

#37 Posted by vinsanityv22 (1064 posts) -

Sad. I mean, it's not really surprising - besides Fallout, what else has Obsidian done recently that was an actual hit? Figured they would've been hit earlier, considering Alpha Protocol's performance, y'know? Still, despite their inconsistent output, I like Obsidian a lot and am glad they're working on South Park and other, original IPs (lord knows this industry needs 'em). Wish all those let go the best. Maybe they'll open their own RPG studio now? We should have more here in North America than ...what, three? (Bioware, Bethesda and Obsidian)

#38 Posted by kkotd (314 posts) -

I've always had mixed feelings for Obsidian, they typically get 'sloppy seconds' when it comes to making a game and have to live to the criticisms and hype of that first title. For instance, KOTOR 2, many people loved, but also many people despised because of story plot holes, technical difficulties and numerous other controversies related to them making it instead of Bioware. Personally, the titles I disliked were Fallout New Vegas and Dungeon Siege, FNV, while an excellent game, had one major issue, I was done with Fallout before New Vegas came out. I was beyond done with that engine because of oversaturation of DLC from Fallout 3. DS3, they tried something different and it fell flat. I really had hoped that it wouldn't have hurt them that bad, but it looks like with the P1 lull and the hardest fiscal year ever for the gaming industry being forcasted, I can see why they had to make massive cut backs. I sincerely hope, nigh on pray that they don't go completely out or sell off, because they are one of the few who seem to care about making games. They have a sincere and loving passion for what they do and doing it right, while many companies such as EA and now even Blizzard are looking to cut corners and monetize when they think they can get away with it. From a consumer standpoint, it feels as if we are getting shafted, but if you open your eyes, companies are having to do this just to stay afloat. Even if it seems silly to say that EA is anywhere near tough times finacially, they very well could easily start hurting if speculations on how much the used game market will rise this year. Remember, they don't make a dime off of used, and as consumers cut back money-wise, they either have to buy used, buy less games or stop buying games period and that hurts any company, even a giant like EA or Activision.

#39 Posted by Monkeyman04 (1150 posts) -

Maybe one of those laid off can get a job at Screened.com.... and now I out. PEACE!

Online
#40 Posted by dagas (2864 posts) -

Too bad. They are the only ones who even attempt to make Bioware style games.

#41 Posted by PimblyCharles (1566 posts) -

@vinsanityv22 said:

Sad. I mean, it's not really surprising - besides Fallout, what else has Obsidian done recently that was an actual hit? Figured they would've been hit earlier, considering Alpha Protocol's performance, y'know? Still, despite their inconsistent output, I like Obsidian a lot and am glad they're working on South Park and other, original IPs (lord knows this industry needs 'em). Wish all those let go the best. Maybe they'll open their own RPG studio now? We should have more here in North America than ...what, three? (Bioware, Bethesda and Obsidian)

Obsidian are one of the few developers these days that push the envelope of what video games can do. They take risks. Some may not work out, but some are brilliant and affect the future of game mechanics. Also, there are people, like myself, that absolutely loved Alpha Protocol. If you know what you're getting into beforehand, and how the game mechanics work as an RPG, it's a fantastic game and one that takes many risks as mentioned above.

This is very sad, and I hope the future of Obsidian is going to be better. I'm sure these talented people that were laid off will find other jobs in the industry, considering they have some good experience. I would be heart broken if Obsidian went under, so I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Hopefully, its just part of the recession and nothing more.

#42 Posted by mustachioeugene (516 posts) -

shitty news.

Alex with yet another perfect choice of picture to accompany bad news.

#43 Posted by Elazul (1327 posts) -

Does this mean Screened will finally get some new employees?

#44 Posted by Animasta (14711 posts) -

this is the worst D:

#45 Posted by Delta_Ass (3282 posts) -
@deerokus said:

@Winternet: Sadly, I don't think that will ever happen. A more polished sequel would be fantastic*.

*A lot of the complaints some had about that game were down to the poor gunplay and general low-budget feel of it, but the same thing must be said of the first Mass Effect game, for example. And that series is far less ambitious than AP.

Um, what? Mass Effect 1 was ten times the game AP was.
#46 Edited by MisterSamMan (365 posts) -

I was really looking forward to Elder Scrolls V: New Vegas. Seriously though, they have my sympathy.

#47 Posted by Chemin (633 posts) -

No! This is extremely bad news. The RPG genre is struck yet another hard blow. As usual.
 
I'm sad.

#48 Posted by Nonentity (237 posts) -

Gonna pour one out for my personal friend Jim who was their hiring manager and a wonderful dude who was also affected.

#49 Posted by Lemi (16 posts) -

UPDATE

http://www.gamebanshee.com/news/107270-obsidian-entertainment-layoffs-project-cancelled.html

UPDATE: Our tipster has confirmed that it was indeed Project North Carolina that was cancelled, and that the devastating news comes after "the owners weren't paid for 6-7 months" and "401k matching was halted" for employees. Hopefully Obsidian lets us throw our money at a Kickstarter project soon, or I'm going to really start to worry.

#50 Posted by fRAWRst (236 posts) -

Man, this bums me out

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