A new report suggests layoffs have hit at the studio behind arcade driving game Onrush, including senior staff members like director Paul “Rushy” Rustchynsky. The developer had previously been known as Evolution Studios under Sony before being shut down, and was acquired by Codemasters shortly afterward.
Anonymous sources tell Eurogamer that senior staff members were the primary group affected, though some junior staff members were also let go. Those who weren’t fired outright were asked to “re-interview for positions,” and the sources suggest the studio will now be working as support on other Codemasters games, or on titles less risky than the all-new Onrush.
One source tells Eurogamer that the game had sold barely 1,000 copies at retail during launch week in the UK. Even with the caveat that those numbers are limited to physical discs in a single territory, that’s a dismal opening week. Some suggest that further problems like a lack of communication with Codemasters management contributed to the layoffs.
Director Rustchynsky retweeted a call for job applicants from Switchblade studio Lucid Games earlier today, but otherwise has not publicly commented on the news. Criterion Games, the EA studio known for Burnout and several modern Need for Speed titles, reached out on Twitter directly to those affected.
For its part, Codemasters tells Eurogamer that “It is normal course of business for game teams to evolve as projects launch and move into service, and as other new projects start. As such, it isn’t appropriate to comment on day to day movement of staff changes.”
It’s not unusual for a studio to see layoffs after a game’s release, but pointing to the “normal course of business” is a distressingly cold way to acknowledge these reports. Onrush was well-received critically, if not commercially, and letting go of senior creatives behind such a game certainly sounds like more than the “day to day movement of staff changes.”
Onrush launched on June 5 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version was scheduled for eventual release, though whether poor sales and these layoffs have any effect on that plan remains to be seen. Here’s hoping those affected are able to find new work quickly.