Take the case of Ready At Dawn, the video game studio working on the upcoming PlayStation 4 game The Order: 1866. Though the studio had found some success making God of Wargames for the PSP, they had trouble convincing publishers to buy their other prototypes, according to a person who worked there. And in July of 2010, as the studio finished off God of War: Ghost of Sparta and prepared to move onto The Order, the folks at Ready At Dawn laid off 13 people—only to re-fill those same positions back six months later. (Ready At Dawn declined to comment for this article.)
…The thought might seem silly—why get rid of developers just to replace them in a few months?—but this sort of thing happens often. And the explanation is simple, according to one ex-employee. The development team didn’t need those people for pre-production—the period of time in which the basics of a game are conceptualized and designed—so Sony, the publisher, wouldn’t pay for them. (Sony didn’t respond to requests for comment on this story.)
If you’re even considering going into the game industry, this article is something you must read.
I seem to randomly meet AAA burnouts on a regular basis, and much of what this article talks about is why people leave the industry. It’s not just a few people. It happens in droves. Funny enough, after meeting so many people burned out on the AAA cycle of layoffs and crunchmode, I’ve chosen to be an indie developer despite the enormous risks involved. If I’m going to be financially uncertain, I’d rather do it on my terms. General consensus is that something has to change. This isn’t sustainable.