League of Geeks initiates significant layoffs, Jumplight Odyssey shelved

A lack of funding has seen the well-known Melbourne game developer cut over half its staff, as it urges fellow studios to hire them.
League of Geeks Solarium Infernum Jumplight Odyssey

League of Geeks, the Melbourne studio that rose to prominence with the success of Armello, has announced significant redundances across the company – over 50% of its workforce has been laid off, a total of over 31 full-time staff and contractors. In addition, development on its Early Access simulation strategy game, Jumplight Odyssey, has been paused “indefinitely”.

A public statement attributed to studio co-founders Trent Kusters, Ty Carey, and Blake Mizzi cited several financial issues that led to this decision. These include poor Early Access sales for Jumplight Odyssey, rising operational costs, a weakening exchange rate for the Australian dollar, and the “unprecedented withdrawal of funding opportunities across the industry.”

In a post on the Jumplight Odyssey Steam page, Kusters added: “Regardless of current market conditions, rising costs, or whatever bogeyman we want to point to, as heads of the studio, we are ultimately accountable for this situation. It’s always a possibility in game dev, but this is not a message we ever expected to write, and we take full responsibility for that.”

No hope for funding

A more detailed FAQ regarding the future of Jumplight Odyssey specifically cites two major investment deals falling through in the month leading up to the announcement. “This blindsided us,” the statement reads.

“There were only two possible scenarios with the money we had left in the bank account; Pause development on Jumplight Odyssey so we can release Solium Infernum as planned, or cancel both games immediately and shut down LoG for good.”

With the studio unable to cover the development costs required to finish the Jumplight Odyssey, the entire team working on the game has been laid off, and the game will not see its v1.0 release – originally planned for mid-2024.

“We don’t want this to be the end of Jumplight Odyssey,” the studio says. “If investment in the project becomes a reality, and the conditions exist where it is financially possible for us to boot this game back up, we absolutely will.”

“The grim reality however, is that at least for right now, it’s a very scary time (economically) for indie developers of our size.”

Developers for hire

League of Geeks has used much of this announcement to put the spotlight on impacted staff. The studio has provided a spreadsheet that lists all staff impacted by the layoffs, and their former roles within the company, in the hopes that they can quickly find new work.

“If you are in a position to hire them, do it,” reads the statement. “Let our loss be your gain.”

GamesHub understands that the leadership at League of Geeks has been taking proactive steps in attempting to secure jobs for its affected staff at other studios, which has produced some small but positive results.

The studio has also announced a profit-sharing plan for Jumplight Odyssey developers, whereby half the profits of every future copy sold will be distributed to the League of Geeks team, including those impacted by the redundancies. The plan will remain in place until December 2024, or until the development of Jumplight Odyssey resumes – whichever comes first.

Development on Solium Infernum, the studio’s remake of the 2009 game of the same name by Cryptic Comet, is still seemingly on track. The game is planned for release on 14 February 2024. League of Geeks says the redundancies and cessation of Jumplight Odyssey development will not affect this game. Armello will also continue to be supported.

Impossible mission

In a 2023 interview with GamesHub, Kusters was candid about the hardships of growing an independent game development studio from a small team to a much larger one, with multiple projects on the go. “So many studios don’t survive it, it’s almost impossible, and we’d fucked it up once already.”

“We are devastated to be in this position,” the layoff announcement concludes. “We have done everything in our power to avoid it. We are so very sorry.”

Read: League of Geeks talks Jumplight Odyssey, Solium Infernum, and learning as a studio

League of Geeks joins an exceptionally long list of game companies that have initiated or planned layoffs in the latter half of 2023, including UbisoftMedia MoleculeBlizzardTeam17EACD Projekt RedRiot GamesAmazonAscendant StudiosPrivate Division, 2KVolitionFiraxisTelltale GamesCrystal DynamicsEpic GamesDigital ExtremesHumble Games, ByteDance, Phoenix Labs, Codemasters, TinyBuild, and several more.

Our thoughts are with those impacted by the redundancies at League of Geeks. For those recruiting, you can see the list of affected League of Geeks personnel here.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran