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Tales of Kenzera: Zau studio impacted by layoffs

UPDATE: Surgent Studios founder Abubakar Salim responds.

Tales of Kenzera Zau
Image credit: Surgent Studios

UPDATE 3/7/24: Surgent Studios and its founder Abubakar Salim have confirmed "just over a dozen" employees were affected by yesterday's layoffs.

"This hurts deeply," Salim wrote in a social media post last night. "I am so proud of what the team have achieved over the course of these four years. When things got tough, every one of them stood so strong, it was inspiring.

"So to be delivering this news today really sucks. I know we're not alone here, but that doesn't make it easier."

Salim shared details of those affected by the layoffs in subsequent posts, asking others to consider them for any available positions within the industry.

The original story continues below.

ORIGINAL 2/7/24: Several members at Tales of Kenzera: Zau developer Surgent Studios have been laid off.

As spotted by Game Developer, a number of former studio employees are now looking for work. Level designer Peter Brisbourne wrote on LinkedIn: "The chapter entitled 'Pete Works At Surgent Studios' is coming to a close at the end of the month", adding he is available for work.

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Surgent technical artist Jordan Smee shared a similar post on LinkedIn. "Well, it looks like I'm joining all the people affected by industry layoffs this year," Smee wrote. Additionally, a Surgent Studios producer going by the name of Raysura on Bluesky has also "officially been laid off" over the last couple of days. "Shit sucks," Raysura said.

"I'm another casualty of the wild west industry that is video game development," added game producer Phillip Smy on LinkedIn. Eurogamer has asked Surgent Studios for comment.

Word of these layoffs comes less than three months after the studio's debut game, Tales of Kenzera: Zau, released to much praise.

"What Tales of Kenzera lacks in creative game design it makes up for in vital, passionate storytelling," reads Eurogamer's four star Tales of Kenzera: Zau review.

Tales of Kenzera screenshot showing main character looking out at giant storm bird in the sky
Image credit: Surgent Studios / Eurogamer
Screenshot of Tales of Kenzera showing winged dragon blasting blue energy at player
Image credit: Surgent Studios

Today's news is just the latest in a long line of studio shutdowns and redundancies in recent months. By the end of May 2024 - so not even halfway through the year - more than 10,000 people had been laid off from their jobs this year across the industry.

Others impacted this year include the likes of Just Cause developer Avalanche, Microsoft, Sony and Square Enix, and that is barely scratching the surface.

For more on this topic, be sure to read Chris Dring's feature: What is going on with layoffs in the video games industry?

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