Crytek has announced that it will be closing all but three of its studios in an effort to refocus the company. Crytek's Frankfurt headquarters, the Kiev development studio, and Istanbul's online operations will remain within the company. Studios in Budapest, Sofia, Seoul, and Shanghai will be moved outside of Crytek. The company is unclear whether the studios will be shuttered or sold to the highest bidder.
"Undergoing such transitions is far from easy, and we'd like to sincerely thank each and every staff member – past and present – for their hard work and commitment to Crytek," said Crytek co-founder Avni Yerli in a press release. "These changes are part of the essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward that can continue to attract and nurture our industry's top talent. Our focus now lies entirely on the core strengths that have always defined Crytek – world-class developers, state-of-the-art technology and innovative game development, and we believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success."
According to Crytek's statements, the company will refocus on the development of "premium IPs", likely returning to third-party development. CryEngine will also remain a core of Crytek's overall business.
The problem is that Crytek didn't just fire these developers ahead of the holidays. According to a report by Kotaku, Crytek had stopped paying salaries on time in May 2016. FX artist Ludvig Lindqvist, who worked at the Frankfurt studio, was crowdfunding legal fees to sue Crytek for a lack of payment since September 2016. Lindqvist isn't the only person who alleges late or non-existent pay for most of 2016.
This isn't even the first time Crytek has had these problems. The company missed payroll for long stretches back in 2014 as well. At the time, Crytek initially denied the reports of missed paychecks. It later recanted, saying the lack of payment was due to a "transitional phase" at the company. A licensing deal with Amazon eventually saved the company, with Amazon using CryEngine as the base for its Lumberyard engine.
In this case, another Kotaku report says that CryTek has sold Warfare and its sequel to the games' Russian publisher Mail.ru.
What Crytek has done to its employees is exploitative. It has taken their effort and paid them nothing or little in return. At a time when people should be relaxing and spending time with their families, they have to suffer this financial burden and look for new jobs. There's no good time to lose your job, but during the holidays it can hurt more. It's simply shameful to treat your employees like this.