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Frontier lays off staff in final few weeks of  Elite  Kickstarter
Frontier lays off staff in final few weeks of Elite Kickstarter
December 17, 2012 | By Mike Rose

While Cambridge, UK-based Frontier Developments has a Kickstarter currently on the go, the company today revealed that it has laid off over a dozen staffers.

The Elite: Dangerous Kickstarter has been running since the beginning of November, and is as-of-now over halfway to its goal with 18 days remaining.

However, this latest news that the company has laid off 14 employees just before Christmas may well affect whether future potential backers choose to pledge towards the project.

In a statement to Eurogamer, the company explained, "This is due to the changing mix of skills requirements for our current and future projects - it is not a reflection on the company's prospects, which remain healthy."

It continued, "Once we took the decision to make the roles redundant, we felt it was better that the affected people knew ASAP so they can plan any further expenditure over the Christmas period accordingly and focus on their search for new roles as soon as possible. We have provided redundancy arrangements in excess of the minimum."

Frontier says that, despite these redundancies, it is still activity recruiting "to shift the balance of skills we have within the company."

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Maria Jayne
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That's a really shitty thing to do half way through December. There is never a good time to lay people off but hopefully those affected have already sorted out most of their Christmas spending.

Jakub Majewski
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Maria, to be fair - the one positive side to being fired before Christmas is that you are deprived of false security. People sometimes make big purchases around Christmas (a new car, new TV, etc.), and frequently fuel these purchases not with savings, but credit. And they take credit because they have job security.

Imagine - you get a big loan, buy whatever it is you wanted, have a nice and peaceful Christmas, and then bam - you're fired. In that context, I think I'd rather be fired before Christmas. It would make me feel lousy, but at least I wouldn't be regretting some huge purchase I wrongly thought I could afford.

Jeff Murray
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If the company is so 'healthy' then they could easily afford to keep them around for another month or so. All I can say is that I hope they gave them decent severance packages.

Merry Christmas and good luck with the Kickstarter. Ho ho ho.

Simon Roth
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To avoid paying Christmas bonuses and to stop them hitting the 2 year mark where they gain more rights and a proper redundancy package I'd wager.

Mark Hinchcliffe
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Never understood the need to fire people to hire people. Most people can pick up new skills especially if a single guru is hired to guide the team maybe even as a consultant/contractor

Jesse Crafts-Finch
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Try telling your 2d concept artist that he should be able to pick up 3d modeling and animation skills so you don't have to hire someone.

Luke Quinn
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I'm going to go against the flow of the crowd (so far at least) and commend Frontier for being straight up front with their newly redundant employees.
I know it sucks a lot to lose your job, but the fact that these kinds of companies have really got to stay efficient to survive is inescapable and at least ex-Frontier staff won't have the same troubles as they ones at say 38 Studios...
While the timing is unfortunate, I'd prefer to know if I were about to have my income stream interrupted BEFORE I went nuts buying gifts and supplies for Xmas, so I guess there's a silver lining in the awful timing.
I wish all the staff being let go all the best in finding work soon.

Arnaud Clermonté
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The kickstarter is not on track to succeed..
2/3 of the time has passed and they don't have 2/3 of the money.
They'll need to come up with something to revive the interest, or it will fail.

Tyler King
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While that is not necessarily a good indicator(How many games have gotten 75% of what they need on the last day?), this news does not bode well for them.

Ian Brown
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Just personal opinion, but I doubt the kickstater and the unfortunate layoffs are related. The kickstarter campaign has, I think (again) personally, a few issues counting against it. A video-less start in the middle of the Star Citizen fanfare didn't help, but the reward tiers seem off to me also.
There is interest. They've sold out of the 10,000 £20 pledges (one of which is me), but to be involved in the development discussions is a whopping £55 more, let alone beta or alpha access. So I think maybe there's little incentive for those 10,000 to increase their pledge.
I'd like to see it made, but without anything interesting within my budget (a bit tapped out by Star Citizen...) I can't really justify pledging more, even to myself.

Arnaud Clermonté
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" How many games have gotten 75% of what they need on the last day? "
Never heard of that, please answer your own question if it's relevant.

Torben Jorba
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Some people have criticized Brabens (and Molyneux) kickstarters as more or less concealed attempts to finance their studios "with whatever people are willing to pay for" to keep the lights on.

Where is the "go with it" attitude, because it has to be like this, because its the way it has to be in the game designers view; a view big studios can't or won't follow?

Chris Roberts Star Citizen had quite a reach before the project started, and all the problems in the funding campaign came from handling the (crowd-funding) process, but not the creative vision. He also had lots of videos and pictures to show off - not just placeholders.

This is the BIG difference between $7mil - and barely reaching $one mil.

Nooh Ha
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1) There is never a good time of the year for redundancies
2) The Frontier staff being let go are getting redundancy payments, which is more than many seem to have got this year (Eurocom, 38 Studios etc)
3) Frontier actually provided a perfectly plausible and clear explanation for this move especially as their business is increasingly moving to mobile and PC and away from console. Again, I can't think of many that have done this without using ridiculous coprorate-speak euphamisms to hide their true motivations.
4) All larger companies have regular staff turnover and this is healthy for the business. Some of the least productive, troubled and most political studios I have experienced or heard about from senior dev colleagues have been large companies which have little or no desire to get rid of inefficient, inappropriately skilled or unproductive staff.

Kevin Fishburne
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From TFA: "This is due to the changing mix of skills requirements for our current and future projects - it is not a reflection on the company's prospects, which remain healthy."

I think they should have been more specific, as in mentioning they are making room for new hires specifically suited to the Elite project. While this can be inferred, specifically stating it may show potential Kickstarter backers that they are deadly serious and possibly increase pledges. They're on the knife's edge of funding success or failure, so any doubt-inducing ambiguity about the state of their studio is the last thing they need right now.

Judy Tyrer
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Regular staff turnover is NOT healthy for business. It is extremely costly for business. There was a movement popular for some time that called for laying off the bottom quarter of your company's performers every 2 years. HR studies over time discovered that this did not improve productivity. All it did was create a different bottom 1/4 of the company. There was no significant increase in productivity.

Lay-offs are bad for morale. And it recruiting is an expensive business.

Jed Hubic
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So you can give these guys financial backing to a fund a project and put people out of work? Screw these guys. Just any other big company mooching off the goodwill of gamers. Can't really complain about "corporations" like Activision churning people when these guys do it all the same, and take your money directly in the process.

So much talk about passion and what not in these kickstarters but it's really all about bottom line just the same. I hope people give their money to someone else, and hopefully prove this is a bad move for a kickstarted company. They have like 221 people and they "need" a kickstarter? Crooked all the same.

Kevin Alexander
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Welcome to adulthood.

These are the unfortunate realities of business sometimes. Not everyone can be a winner.

Kevin Fishburne
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You know, I smelled what was cooking but you put it rather nicely. I'll paraphrase: "If you have the infrastructure to lay off multiple people, what are you doing with a cardboard sign on the exit ramp?" Firing someone is fine; that means they fucked up. Laying someone off is the result of an executive cost/benefit analysis and should be reserved for companies that don't resort to begging like a starving dev. Of course the allure of the dollar quickly erases any consequences of shame, so let the "adulthood" ensue.

Furthering my response to Kevin's "Welcome to adulthood" comment above, perhaps this is a reflection of the "reality" that all things innocent are eventually corrupted. Maybe Kickstarter is having its cherry broken at this very moment.