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GTA 6 publishers Take-Two cancel games and lay off hundreds to "rationalize" their pipeline

Five percent of workforce to be let go

A character from Grand Theft Auto 5 brandishing a handful of GTA Online Shark Cash Cards
Image credit: Take-Two Interactive

GTA 6 publishers Take-Two Interactive have announced that they're "rationalizing" their "pipeline" and positioning/restructuring/streamlining for growth by, you guessed it, laying off a load of people and cancelling a bunch of games. As detailed in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Take-Two are doing away with five per cent of the approximately 11,000 people who work for them, and have cancelled several in-development projects worth tens of millions of dollars.

"The Company estimates that it will incur approximately $160 million to $200 million in total charges in connection with the Plan," Take-Two wrote in the filing, as passed on by Kotaku. "The Company expects $40 million to $60 million of the total charges to result in future cash expenditures. The total charge consists of approximately $120 million to $140 million related to title cancellations, approximately $25 million to $35 million associated with employee severance and employee-related costs, and approximately $15 million to $25 million related to office space reductions."

As Kotaku note, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told IGN less than a month ago that they had "no current plans" to lay off any employees. The publisher appear to be in the pink. They reported net bookings of $1.2 billion for the last quarter, 20 percent up from a year ago, with Zelnick personally garnering $40 million in total compensation as CEO last year.

Last month Take-Two acquired Borderlands developers Gearbox from Embracer, who themselves recently announced the conclusion of their own "restructuring" program - I'm not sure I'd bet against further layoffs and closures, there.

GTA 6 aside, Take-Two's forthcoming releases include - or have included - a new Borderlands, a new BioShock, and Judas from Ken Levine's studio Ghost Story Games, which features diabolical dentistry and a fast-travelling robot dog. It's not clear whether any of these projects are affected by the above "rationalizations", which follow a report that GTA 6's release could slip to 2026.

Take-Two's latest layoffs are part of a sorry trend, with many thousands of developers losing their jobs over the past year and a bit. At GDC this year, I spoke to a range of developers, union organisers and lobbyists about how we stop this kind of thing happening again.

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