League of Geeks, an Australian studio with a 15-year history, has made a tough decision to cut over half of its staff. This also affected the entire Jumplight Odyssey team.
In a blog post on Steam, League of Geeks cited four reasons behind mass layoffs:
- Rapidly rising operation costs;
- Worsening AUD/USD exchange rate;
- Poor Early Access sales of Jumplight Odyssey;
- “Unprecedented withdrawal” of funding opportunities across the games industry.
“We are unable to sustain the cost of operations through to the release of v1.0, which was planned for Q2 of 2024,” the studio’s co-founder and director Trent Kusters said. “As a result, we have also had to go through the traumatic process of saying goodbye to many of our closest friends and colleagues at League of Geeks. This has impacted the entire Jumplight Odyssey team, and folks from our publishing and operations teams.”
Kusters added that the layoffs won’t affect Solium Infernum, a turn-based strategy game expected to launch on February 14.
We’ve got some unfortunate news to share, folks. A thread: pic.twitter.com/hDjlrkKtdV
— League of Geeks (@LeagueofGeeks) December 5, 2023
League of Geeks also shared a spreadsheet with a full list of affected staff and links to their LinkedIn profiles. It includes 29 people, with their roles ranging from artists and software engineers to producers and game designers.
On top of that, the studio will share half of its profit from every copy of Jumlight Odyssey sold in the next 12 months (or until development is resumed) with its team and those affected by the layoffs.
League of Geeks was unable to fill in a funding gap
As Kusters explained in an FAQ, Jumplight Odyssey and Solium Infernum were co-funded by the studio itself and publisher Kowloon Nights in 2021. However, costs of wages, software, and rent have increased dramatically, and the team has been “unable to return to a studio environment, lengthening development time.”
This led to a funding gap, which League of Geeks hoped to fill either with revenue from EA sales of Jumplight Odyssey or via external investment. Although the game was on its way to a full launch, “securing investment in 2023 has proven challenging, to say the least.”
In fact, League of Geeks had two major investment deals that unfortunately fell through last month. “With our deadline for funding fast approaching, this forced us into a position where there was a very real chance of us having to close our doors completely,” Kusters said, adding that “we were forced to choose between pausing development on JLO, or shutting down entirely.”
Founded in 2011 by Ty Carey, Blake Mizzi, Trent Kusters, and Jacek Tuschewski, League of Geeks is an Australian studio based in Melbourne. Its debut title, strategy board game Armello, raised over AU$ 305k on Kickstarter and has sold over 1 million copies globally since its launch in 2014. It currently has an 82% rating on Steam based on more than 10k user reviews.
With a 70% rating on Steam based on just 643 user reviews, Jumplight Odyssey was supposed to be the studio’s next big project, but its development has now been paused so that the team can have enough resources to release Solium Infernum as planned. The only other option, according to Kusters, was to “cancel both games immediately and shut down LoG for good.”
There is also simple math: the full version of Jumplight Odyssey was set to come out in six months, and Solium Infernum is currently two months from launch. “The amount of money required to complete JLO is 2-3 times as much as SI, not to mention the complexity of console development compared to a game that is coming to PC only,” Kusters explained.
League of Geeks continues its negotiations with investors, hoping that a possible funding and good commercial performance of Solium Infernum would help the studio solve its financial problems.