Gas Powered Games, makers of Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander (among many other genre-defining games), have "laid off a substantial number of the team". In a video update on Kickstarter the studio's head Chris Taylor says this is because "if [he] ran this team throughout the entire Kickstarter campaign, and it fails to fund, then [he] has to let everyone go, shut the company down. No one gets PTO, severance, or anything".
He has now put it to the backers of Wildman as to whether he should discontinue the current Kickstarter campaign or get it through to the end in the hope that he is able to use the funds to rehire any of the old team who are still available to work.
Kotaku broke the news of the layoffs yesterday, they received word from four separate sources, before receiving confirmation from Taylor, that a large majority of the studio had lost their jobs. Although Taylor himself wouldn't say how many staff had been let go, one of the sources stated that it was almost the entire studio, leaving Taylor and one or two people.
It wasn't news that Gas Powered Games were going through a rough time financially, though the severity wasn't clear till today. In an interview with Gamasutra, Taylor had said that he was "betting the company" on the Kickstarter campaign but when we've heard similar statements in the past from developers its seemed like hyperbole, that should a project fail there would in fact be a fall back project, a commission, or some other way of getting funds. For Gas Powered it was no exaggeration.
In the update video Taylor released he goes into the underlying implications of discussing this last ditch effort as a gamble, a make or break, as he realised "I really, really felt like it was a crazy idea to gamble in this economy and gamble with the people here, who are the most talented and loyal people, to play a card game with their livelihoods is not smart".
He's now put it to the Kickstarter community to decide whether or not to continue the project. As if it does continue and fail then the company will shut down. However, if it were to discontinue now Gas Powered Games has a few remaining funds with which to continue, though how long that half-life is would be pure speculation.
The thing is that Wildman does not look like it's in jeopardy of failing, at least, not currently. The project currently sits at just under $220,000 with 27 days to go. With a target of $1.1 million we've seen many a project pull those funds together in this timeframe.
We will be following this one closely.
Disclaimer Today's snow theme has been suspended for this post as it does not exactly go with the tone of the news.