Tales of Kenzera: Zau developer impacted by layoffs

"Just over a dozen" Surgent Studios employees are now out of work.
GDC 2024 tales of kenzera: ZAU

Tales of Kenzera: Zau developer Surgent Studios has announced it will undergo a round of layoffs, with “just over a dozen people” set to lose their jobs. While a formal reason was not cited, Surgent spoke of facing a “difficult time in the games industry.”

Notably, Surgent released its debut video game in February 2024, with high hopes for its success. While it achieved strong critical reviews on debut, it appears Zau‘s sales haven’t been enough to counter the current state of the games industry.

As many other studios have revealed, publishing smaller games has become very difficult recently, with obstacles including a lack of funding, reluctance from publishers, and changing audience appetites. Already this year, we’ve seen smaller studios like Deck Nine, Mighty Kingdom, Ascendant Studios, League of Geeks, and Galvanic Games make cuts or shut down entirely, as a direct result of the games industry’s current economic lull.

Read: Australian studio League of Geeks announces indefinite hiatus

Despite work being impacted by layoffs, Surgent Studios remains proud of what it’s already achieved with Tales of Kenzera: Zau, and has promised to continue working on the game.

“It’s a difficult time in the games industry, but we remain incredibly proud of our entire team’s work on Zau and of the praise is has received from critics and players alike,” Surgent said. “Our focus now is on supporting those affected, continuing our work on Zau, and looking to the future with our next creative projects.”

Notably, those next projects may not be video games. Surgent is a multimedia production company, with an array of projects across video games and screen. While all sections of the entertainment industry are currently facing difficulty with funding and support, having a multi-faceted output means Surgent may weather the storm by focussing on alternative forms of storytelling.

For now, the studio has not announced its next moves, beyond continued work on Zau, but we’re likely to hear more in the coming months. As always, our thoughts are with those developers laid off, who are now looking for work in an increasingly tough jobs market.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.