Far Cry, Crysis and Ryse developer Crytek has broken its silence following reports of unpaid wages to say it's letting go of multiple studios.
Crytek had struggled to pay staff since May 2016, but a source within Crytek's main office in Frankfurt, Germany, told Eurogamer last week that October salaries had arrived, with November salaries set to be paid this week.
Now, Crytek has issued a press release, titled: "Crytek Outlines Future Plans and Focuses on Return to Core Competencies." Much of the language used in the note to press is vague. Crytek talks about refocusing on its "core strengths", says it will concentrate development on its Frankfurt and Kiev studios, and will "continue to develop and work on premium IPs".
Its game engine, CryEngine, "will remain a core pillar of Crytek's overall strategy, with enterprise licensees and indie developers alike continuing to be served by regular engine updates". (One studio that's licensed CryEngine - and taken many ex-Crytek staff - is Cloud Imperium Games, maker of Star Citizen.)
Here's an important line: "All other development studios will not remain within Crytek and management has put plans into action to secure jobs and to ensure a smooth transition and stable future."
So, what does this mean? It means Crytek is closing down its Budapest (Hungary), Sofia (Bulgaria), Seoul (South Korea), Shanghai (China) and Istanbul (Turkey) studios.
Here's a quote from Crytek co-founder and managing director, Avni Yerli (his brother, embattled Crytek development chief Cevat Yerli, is not quoted):
- Undergoing such transitions is far from easy, and we'd like to sincerely thank each and every staff member - past and present - for their hard work and commitment to Crytek.
- These changes are part of the essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward that can continue to attract and nurture our industry's top talent. The reasons for this have been communicated internally along the way.
- Our focus now lies entirely on the core strengths that have always defined Crytek - world-class developers, state-of-the-art technology and innovative game development, and we believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success.
So, where did Crytek get its sudden influx of cash to pay staff wages? One rumour we've heard is it came from Mail.ru, a huge Russian internet company that's buying Warface, Crytek's free-to-play shooter, and Warface 2, which is currently in development but not announced. We've heard Mail.ru will take over publishing of Warface in January, and there may be layoffs as a result. It's important to note that Crytek has yet to confirm this.
Despite Crytek's continuation, staff remain upset with how the situation has been handled. Many have already left, but many have stuck around despite the late wages situation because they knew the German government would cover three months' salary if Crytek went under. January would have been the fourth - and thus uncovered - month of late wages, so many staff have tried to secure new jobs for the New Year.
But many are struggling to find work elsewhere. As one source put it to Eurogamer: "The German gamedev scene is pretty bad. Unless you find a job at id or Foundry 42, you will likely have to move abroad with family, so you keep hoping it will work out."