Surgent Studios joins a growing list of studios affected by layoffs. The indie team has laid off over a dozen employees just months after launching its debut game Tales of Kenzera: ZAU.

Surgent Studios lays off over dozen devs months after launching its debut game Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

It all started with LinkedIn posts from several former Surgent Studios employees affected by the job cuts. The company later confirmed the news in a statement on X, citing “difficult time” in the games industry as the reason for this decision.

Surgent Studios founder and CEO Abubakar Salim also commented on the layoffs, saying that “this isn’t the news I wanted to share today” and also sharing links to profiles of developers affected by the cuts.

When things got tough, every one of them stood so strong, it was inspiring,” Salim wrote. “So to be delivering this news today really sucks. I know we’re not alone here, but that doesn’t make it easier. The focus now is to continue supporting those affected in anyway we can.”

Abubakar Salim is a British actor, who also voiced video game characters like Bayek in Assassin’s Creed Origins. In 2020, he started his own studio Silver Rain Games (now Surgent Studios) described as a “media company that brings a pioneering philosophy to storytelling across screen, games and emerging platforms.”

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU was the team’s debut project. Inspired by Salim’s grief over the loss of his father, the game is a metroidvania where players control a young shaman trying to reclaim his father’s spirit. It came out on April 23 and received positive reviews from critics (76/100 on Metacritic).

ZAU is available on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch, but there the studio hasn’t disclosed how it performed on any of those platforms. Judging by visible metrics, the game is far from being a commercial success: it has an 81% rating on Steam based on 416 reviews, peaking at just 287 concurrent players at launch (via SteamDB).

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is also another commercial flop released under the EA Originals label, which was once known for indie games like It Takes Two and Unravel Two. It follows last year’s shooter Immortals of Aveum, which performed poorly on its massive $125 million budget. As a result, developer Ascendant Studios laid off 45% of its staff last September and furloughed around 30 people earlier this year.

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