Ryan Lastimosa was home recovering from surgery when he received a text message from his boss at Respawn Entertainment saying that they needed to talk.
After nearly a year and a half of developing a single-player game for the Chatsworth, California-based studio, Lastimosa was informed in March that the company was scrapping the game. His team of 47 workers faced losing their jobs.
"It wasn't a surprise to me that the project was canceled. The writing was somewhat on the wall," said Lastimosa, a creative director who had worked for Respawn since its founding 13 years earlier. "I had to get my mind in the right state to start addressing things that were a priority aside from game development. I had to make sure that my team was taken care of."
Lastimosa started to look for other places within Respawn — and parent company Electronic Arts — that his team could move to in order to avoid layoffs.
At the same time, Redwood City, California-based EA had announced in March that it was cutting 6% of its headcount, about 800 jobs, and reducing its office space amid restructuring to focus on "strategic priorities."
A spokesperson for EA declined to comment.
The game industry has corrected its course over the last year following breakneck growth, experts say, as publishers and developers adjust to post-pandemic demands, rising production costs and growing competition in the industry.
The result: Roughly 6,500 video game workers have been laid off globally since January, including hundreds at California-based companies, according to industry estimates. Some analysts believe the figure could be much higher because several companies have not disclosed the number of jobs they cut.
The layoffs have affected game and tech companies such as San Francisco-based Unity, Amazon's games division and Riot Games in Los Angeles, among others.
Although the cuts represent a small portion of the total industry workforce, many see the last year of downsizing as particularly brutal for workers in an otherwise banner year for games.
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