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Jurassic World Alive, Cookie Jam developer sees massive layoffs

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Jurassic World Alive and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery publisher Jam City laid off 17% of staff at the company and its subsidiary Ludia on Thursday. Jam City, which created match-3 game Cookie Jam in 2014 and has locations across the U.S. and Canada, acquired Ludia, located in Montreal and known for creating both original and branded games, in 2021 and collectively have roughly 1,400 workers.

About 200 workers were laid off Thursday between Jam City and Ludia. Polygon spoke to 10 impacted Ludia workers and two current employees. Multiple former employees at Ludia told Polygon they were either on leave or vacation while laid off, finding out first from other coworkers and then noticing they’d lost access to associated accounts.

Ludia workers who were not laid off got notified about the layoff first via a large meeting, where employees were instructed not to tell others, according to a recording of the call obtained by Polygon. Later, human resources started pulling the impacted individuals into separate meetings. At least one worker told Polygon they started losing access to their various work accounts while they were still waiting for their scheduled meeting time. Other confused employees began questioning the layoffs in public Slack rooms.

The majority of workers said they were surprised by the layoffs, noting they’d been promised previously that it wouldn’t happen — that the Jam City acquisition would let Ludia do more of what it already does. “People are really upset,” one current employee told Polygon. “Ludia’s treated us very well over the years. They’ve done a lot to try to take care of us, but since the acquisition, that attitude seems to be changing. We’ve tried to have our voices heard, but we’ve, in general, seemed to be ignored. We feel voiceless.”

Jam City purchased Ludia for $165 million in September 2021 after securing $350 million in funding from South Korean game company Netmarble, Marvel Realm of Champions developer Kabam, and others, according to VentureBeat. Jam City has issued a few smaller rounds of layoffs between then and now, four former employees told Polygon. Thursday’s layoff, however, is by far the largest of them all.

A Jam City spokesperson told Polygon that the decision was made “in light of the challenging global economy and its impact on the gaming industry.” The spokesperson continued:

In light of the challenging global economy and its impact on the gaming industry, Jam City has made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our team by about 17 percent. In recent years, we have made a number of strategic acquisitions, and this move represents a right sizing of our work force to address redundancies associated with those transactions. While Jam City remains profitable, we believe that in the current operating environment, this is a necessary move to enhance our financial flexibility and increase operating efficiencies, better positioning Jam City for long-term growth. This also follows a broader restructuring we recently completed to realign our development teams under genre divisions focused on subject-matter expertise to optimize performance. We thank those who are leaving us for their many contributions and are providing severance packages and benefits to help with the transition.

Workers were given severance packages that increases by time employed by the company, they said.

Jam City publicly detailed its next game, which is called Champions Ascension and will be built on the blockchain, in a white paper in May. Champions Ascension characters can currently be purchased as NFTs on OpenSea; 7,622 are available as of writing. Some of the laid-off workers speculated to Polygon that Jam City’s all-in approach to blockchain gaming may have influenced the layoffs Thursday. Aside from Champions Ascension, Jam City has worked on a number of licensed and original games, like Genies & Gems, Disney Emoji Blitz, and Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game.

Ludia, which was founded in 2007, began by creating licensed games like The Price Is Right and other game show brands, and moved into other games like The Bachelor: The Videogame and Jurassic World Alive.

“The problem that comes with a lot of game development is that we have so much nondisclosure,” one worker said. “It’s difficult for these things to get out without feeling like you’re at risk. If you’re able to speak out about these sorts of layoffs, let people know this is happening. Otherwise it just goes under the radar. Game development is just going business as usual. But in a city like Montreal, where there’s such a concentrated number of studios, it can be devastating.”

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