Another blow was dealt to the Vancouver games industry today as Disney decided to cancel Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned which was being made at Propaganda Games. The sudden and unexpected cancellation was followed by layoffs as approximately 100 people were let go from Propaganda. I know of at least four people who were working there. As of tonight, I know three of them made it past the cuts. Unfortunately, one of them was not as lucky. I feel a kinship amongst local people who work in the games industry and because of that, it always makes me sad when I hear about these things. I hope everyone that was affected gets back on their feet very soon.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident but I don’t think that would be true. Closer to home, I’ve been hearing some whispers and chatter about my own place of employment. I don’t have any hard facts or confirmation, so at this point I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’ve been in the industry long enough, however, to realize that when so many people are hearing the same type of things, something is going to happen, we just don’t know the when or what. Actually, you can almost guess when something is going to happen. When game companies are publicly traded, as is the company I work for, upper management types like to get their house in order before the quarterly earnings reports. The next quarterly earnings report for us is scheduled to be one week into November. The reality is that for some people who are making sports games out in Burnaby, they have less than four weeks of employment left. I could be completely wrong of course and nothing will happen but it just doesn’t seem very likely.
So if I could be completely selfish for a minute, we can discuss where I might fit into all of this. The game I’m currently working on isn’t done yet and there’s still lots of stuff to finish. My area of responsibility still needs some effort and I’m pretty much the only person working on it. If we were being logical about it, it wouldn’t make sense to lay me off before the next earnings report. Now if we’re talking about laying me off before the financial quarter after March, that might be a different story. Unfortunately, another lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes companies don’t always make logical decisions. Anything could happen.
While today was not a good day for the local games industry, I believe we haven’t seen the last of the layoffs yet. I’m hoping I’m really wrong about this one.