Saints Row and Agents of Mayhem studio Volition has laid off about 15% of its employees this week, according to a Kotaku report citing three unnamed sources. While layoffs after a big game launches aren't uncommonas studios become far less busy (Agents of Mayhem came out last month), reportedly Volition general manager Dan Cermak was among those let go - and that is a touch more rare. Or so the reports say. Supposedly parent company Deep Silver was unhappy with sales of Agents. That's not surprising, as it hasn't made much of an impact and our John's Agents of Mayhem review just didn't like it that much.
According to Kotaku's sources, over 30 of the 200-odd folks at Volition were let go. Deep Silver have not commented on the reports yet. I've dropped 'em a line myself to ask whether this something more than the usual post-launch layoffs, and will let you know what I hear back.
Deep Silver bought Volition in 2013 after the collapse of their previous owner, THQ. While Volition have released several Saints Row games since then, including the wonderful superhero 'em up Saints Row IV, Agents of Mayhem was their first new-new game (well, new-new-ish - it's set in the Saints universe). The class-based shooter is not that great, John said:
"Agents Of Mayhem is huge, and so incredibly ambitious, but more often than not, it misses the mark. The lack of combat feedback is a tragedy, and one that is ruinous, but for me it's the disappointment of the writing that feels like the biggest letdown.
"It’s definitely not sensible to compare this to Saints Row, because they’re entirely different types of games... except that so often they're not. It’s an open city, with cars to drive, jumpy powers to climb up buildings, and a base of characters who all banter at each other and you. If anything, Agents Of Mayhem keeps trying to compare itself to Saints Row, and in doing so only feels weaker and less competent.
"For whatever reason, this feels like a game that wants to reach as high and far as the games that came before it, and simply can't."
Best of luck to all those affected. I do hope this is just a minor blip for Volition, as they have made some wonderfully daft and daftly wonderful games.