On August 22, Immortals of Aveum was released on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. Three and a half weeks later, around half of the staff who worked on the game have reportedly been laid off after it failed to sell enough copies to satisfy its publisher. It’s yet another round of layoffs to hit the game industry this year.
Developed by Ascendant Studios and published by EA as an “EA Original,” Immortals of Aveum was billed as an AAA FPS that ditched guns for wild-looking magic attacks. Originally scheduled to launch in July, the game was delayed until late August, putting its release date near the launches of Starfield and Armored Core VI. Some worried that this might lead to Immortals of Aveum getting overlooked as players flocked to the bigger, more hyped releases from Bethesda and FromSoftware. It didn’t help that when Immortals did launch on August 22, the game suffered from performance woes on PC as players with even powerful rigs struggled to play it.
Now it seems the game failed to meet sales expectations, and Ascendant Studios is laying off staff to cut costs.
As first reported by Polygon, on Thursday around 40 people were laid off at Ascendant Studios. The layoffs were announced in a meeting by studio CEO Bret Robbins. Three employees at the studio told Polygon that around 80 to 100 people worked at the company before the layoffs. Another former employee told the outlet that the poor sales of Immortals of Aveum were cited as the reason for the layoffs. Employees at the studio were reportedly told the layoffs were necessary to keep the company running.
Kotaku contacted EA for comment and was pointed toward a statement from Ascendant Studios’ CEO posted on Twitter on September 14, which confirmed that the layoffs affected about 45 percent of the studio’s staff and which called the decision “painfully difficult, but necessary.”
“We are supporting those affected in every way we can,” wrote Robbins in his statement, “including comprehensive severance packages and job placement assistance, as well as support services for those who remain.”
I am so proud of what our independent development team has accomplished with Immortals of Aveum. Together we’ve created a new AAA studio, a new IP, on new technology, during an era of our industry when that is exceedingly rare. We’ve poured our passion into Immortals, while wearing our hearts on our sleeves. The studio will continue to work that way as we support the development of this game and our Immortals IP moving forward with future updates and offers.
According to the report from Polygon, a former employee of the studio explained that Immortals of Aveum is probably one of Electronic Arts’ worst-selling Originals and it was claimed that, before this larger round of departures, several other people were laid off shortly after the game’s launch.
This latest round of layoffs is sadly not the first of 2023. Since the beginning of this year, Firaxis, CD Projekt Red, Unity, Kabam Games, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Riot Games, Meta, and other companies have announced rounds of layoffs. Back in March, EA itself announced that 800 people had lost their jobs. We also saw the recent closure of Volition, the studio behind Saints Row, after 30 years of developing games. It’s a tough time to be a game developer, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.
Correction 09/14/2023 16:35 p.m. ET: This story’s original headline suggested that EA made the layoff decision. It’s been reworded to make clear that Ascendant studio management made that choice.