The lackluster commercial performance of Immortals of Aveum has left developer Ascendant Studios in a precarious position. As a result, the company had to lay off almost half of its staff.
Polygon broke the news of the job cuts at Ascendant on Thursday. The exact number of people affected by the layoffs remains unclear, but CEO Bret Robbins later confirmed on X (Twitter) that the studio cut about 45% of its 80-100 employees.
Speaking of the reasons behind this decision, Robbins only said that “we have to make this adjustment now that Immortals of Aveum has shipped.” One former employee told Polygon that it was due to “poor sales” of the game.
“We’ve poured our passion into Immortals, while waring our hearts on our sleeves. The studio will continue to work that way as we support the development of this game and our Immortals IP moving forward with future updates and offers,” the Ascendant head said in a statement, adding that those affected will be provided with “comprehensive severance packagaes and job placement assistance.”
— Bret Robbins (@BretRobbins) September 14, 2023
Robbins, an industry veteran who worked on the Call of Duty series and games like Dead Space and Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, founded Ascendant Studios in 2018 after leaving Sledgehammer Games. Immortals of Aveum was released under the EA Originals label, which once focused on smaller indie titles before starting backing projects with bigger budgets from third-party developers.
Electronic Arts branded the game as a AAA “groundbreaking new single-player, first-person magic shooter.” The publisher had high hopes for Immortals Aveum, as well as Koei Tecmo’s Wild Hearts, as part of its plans to expand the EA Originals label and move away “from niche, and towards bold and audacious.”
Why did Immortals of Aveum fail commercially?
- Launched on August 22, Immortals of Aveum was met with mixed reviews from critics, with its average Metascore ranging from 65 (PC) to 75 (Xbox). Steam players were also unenthusiastic about the game, which currently has a 72% rating based on just 461 user reviews.
- Immortals of Aveum also peaked at only 751 concurrent players on the platform, which is a lackluster result for a AAA game with a major publisher behind its back. For comparison, Wild Hearts, another big-budget EA Originals release this year, reached over 28k peak concurrent users (CCU).
- Ascendant’s debut project might also be one of the worst games released under this label in terms of peak CCU. This metric doesn’t always correlate with sales, but it indicates general player interest, or lack thereof. For example, It Takes Two peaked at over 32k CCU (via SteamDB), eventually becoming a huge hit and selling over 10 million units across all platforms.
- Although players leaving negative reviews for Immortals of Aveum cited the game’s dialogues and poor writing, the main criticism was aimed at unreasonably high system requirements and many performance issues.
- Made with Unreal Engine 5.1, it was branded as a truly next-gen project that would showcase the engine’s latest features like Nanite and Lumen, but ended up joining a cohort of poorly optimized releases of 2023.