Former employees of a video game studio in Montreal are outraged about how they were laid off

Some former employees of a portable video game studio in Montreal say they feel disrespected by the way management went to tell them they were being abandoned.

On Thursday, video game studio Jam City Inc. The US-based firm cuts major cuts to the company’s total staff, including dozens of workers at its Ludia branch in Montreal.

CBC Montreal spoke with several former employees who said they discovered the layoffs through word of mouth after management held a morning staff meeting only for those retained.

“Those who were safe were [told]“Come to the meeting, we announce to you that we are going to lay off people. If you are in this meeting, you are safe,” said Kevin, the former QA worker, who was laid off.

He said his co-workers have been asked to keep the news private about the affected employees, who will be informed of their termination in private one-on-one meetings with Human Resources later that day.

But within half an hour of the morning meeting ending, Kevin said he had lost access to his various work accounts and tools.

“It feels like a slap in the face,” he said.

The former employee, who has been with Ludia since September 2021, requested anonymity for fear of repercussions on his career in the industry.

Workers criticize culture change

Kevin said he was told the layoffs were for economic purposes and corporate restructuring. But he said a separate email from management said the company was removing “redundant roles”.

“It felt like a personal blow like ‘Your job is redundant, so we’re going to remove it,'” he said.

Before the end of the day, Kevin said his former team went from 40 workers to 22 workers. He said HR told him that 60 people had been abandoned in Ludia.

The studio’s parent company, Jam City, has not confirmed the number of laid-off employees but said the Montreal studio cuts represent less than 20 percent of the workforce there.

CBC Montreal spoke with three former employees who said the culture at the Montreal studio had changed for the worse since its acquisition by Jam City Inc. and Los Angeles-based company last fall, citing a new monetization priority. (Kamil Zenioglu/The Associated Press)

Ludia, founded in 2007, specializes in mobile video games such as jurassic world alive, price is right, family feud And other brands of gaming display.

CBC Montreal spoke with three former employees who have been critical of the studio’s cultural changes since its acquisition of Los Angeles-based Jam City Inc last fall.

The workers, who were also not identified due to fear of repercussions on their careers, said that the profitability of the games took priority over their quality.

Kevin said, referring to complaints he had heard from: his colleagues.

A former employee who had worked at Ludia for two years quit shortly after the acquisition because they disagreed with the direction the company would take. The studio recently announced a new development that will include non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

They also said that during a question-and-answer session after the acquisition, Ludia informed employees that there would be no layoffs. Jam City has refuted this claim.

The industry is always looking for talent

In a statement to CBC Montreal, Jam City said it had made employees abandon all of its studios to account for “the current economic downturn and the effects this will have on the gaming industry.”

But the Entertainment Software Association of Canada says the industry is getting bigger, and Montreal studios will be competing for workers like Kevin who have been laid off.

“Traditionally, the video game industry has been a recession-proof industry,” said President and CEO Jason Helsey.

“In the Montreal area alone, there are more than 2,000 vacancies in the video game industry with many companies constantly hiring,” he said.

If anything, Helsey said, the city has recently been experiencing a talent shortage.

“these [laid off workers] Most likely they will have opportunities at many different video game studios as they look for new work.”

But Kevin says he’ll take some time for himself to separate before deciding if he wants to get back in the game.

“I hope the fun of video games comes back,” he said.

“The first thing in making a video game shouldn’t be money.”

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