n-Space, responsible for Geist and the Call of Duty franchise on DS, laid off a majority of its workforce Friday. But the developer hopes to be calling many back by the end of the week, according to n-Space President Dan O’Leary.
“After supporting 70-90 employees for several months without funding, [the] Friday layoffs were unavoidable,” O’Leary said on the company’s official blog. “I will be back in the office next week, along with our core team, to firm up a few of the many deals we are negotiating.”
News of the layoffs hit the web late Friday, making many speculate that n-Space was shutting its doors. GameBlurb first reported that n-Space was “essentially closing shop,” with Kotaku feeding off the article to post a rumor about the Orlando-based company shutting down.
Nintendojo reached out to n-Space for comment after the rumors broke and got word back that the studio was not closed Saturday morning. O’Leary followed up with an official response on the company’s blog. In the post, he wrote that he wanted “to set the record straight” and that “n-Space is down, but definitely not out.”
“Life as an independent developer is often a painful hand to mouth exercise of love,” O’Leary wrote. “This has never been more true than in the last few years. The games industry is, frankly, a mess.”
O’Leary points to the economy being a major problem, with people having less disposable income to buy games. He also highlights Apple’s App Store as being a disruptive force. The n-Space head believes many people just buy a few AAA titles now, with smaller titles “that are free or cost less than a pack of gum” filling in the gaps.
“Anything in the ‘middle’ is struggling,” O’Leary wrote. “The Wii and DS markets have nearly collapsed, and 3DS is a brave new world the publishers are excited about but also very cautious to enter. Even for an extremely successful Wii/DS developer like n-Space, with a long history of delivering quality titles on time and on budget, this creates a very challenging business environment.”
O’Leary continued by talking about the success of n-Space in 2010, as the company is shipping 7 titles. Many of those games are for Nintendo platforms and set to hit retailers in the next two months: GoldenEye 007 (DS), James Bond 007: Blood Stone (DS), Call of Duty Black Ops (DS), Tron: Evolution (DS), and Tron: Evolution – Battle Grids (Wii).
But even with the success and hard work toward securing projects for 2011, a major deal for the future was taken off the table by a publisher. This unexpected renege led to O’Leary taking “drastic action.”
“Last week, it looked as though all that hard work [working on concepts and preparing game proposals] would finally pay off, with one deal ‘done’ and several more soon to follow,” O’Leary wrote. “Then, with a last minute change of heart from the licensor, that deal was dead. When the week ended without commitments from other publishers to offset this setback, I was forced to take drastic action.”
The n-Space president finished the post by saying the company has overcome many setbacks since 2008, and the developer’s “work is not done yet.” O’Leary thanked his dedicated staff and reached out to fans by writing,”… I look forward to sharing [n-Space’s] future accomplishments with you.”