What just happened? Ascendant Studios, the company behind the heavily hyped fantasy FPS Immortals of Aveum, has laid off nearly half its staff in the wake of its debut title’s launch and subsequent poor sales. The indie studio said the layoffs were “difficult, but necessary.”
It’s estimated that Ascendant Studios employed between 80 to 100 people before releasing around 40, a decision that was announced by CEO Bret Robbins yesterday.
“Today, we are heartbroken as we part ways with friends and colleagues at Ascendant Studios – about 45% of our team,” Robbins said on Twitter/X. “This was a painfully difficult, but necessary decision that was not made lightly; nevertheless, we have to make this adjustment now that Immortals of Aveum has shipped.”
Robbins added that the studio will continue to support the development of the game and the Immortal’s IP moving forward.
– Bret Robbins (@BretRobbins) September 14, 2023
A former employee told Polygon that the cuts were being blamed on poor sales of Immortals of Aveum, which only launched on August 22. The game was hyped due to it being one of the first big Unreal Engine 5.1 titles, boasting enhanced lighting, video effects, and physics through the likes of Nanite and Lumen.
A technical deep-dive on the tech powering Immortals of Aveum mentions the Nanite micropolygon geometry system, which intelligently adjusts the level of detail of any in-game object depending on how close you are to it. There’s also a section on Lumen providing movable, changeable lighting in real-time.
But advanced graphical technology doesn’t count for much when people simply don’t enjoy the game – the PC performance issues didn’t help, either. Immortals of Aveum arrived with very mixed reviews. And while its 73% Steam rating ranks it as ‘Mostly Positive’ – the same as Starfield – the 24-hour concurrent peak is just 67, while the all-time peak is a mere 751, according to SteamDB. The game is also available on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X, though it’s unlikely to be doing much better on the consoles.
One former worker told Polygon that Immortals of Aveum is likely one of Electronic Arts’ (its publisher) worst-selling EA Original titles.
Layoffs have become a sadly common sight in the game industry this year, with companies from EA and Ubisoft to CD Projekt Red and Take-Two letting go of staff. The biggest casualty came last month when Saints Row developer Volition shut down after 30 years due to a $2 billion investment deal falling through at parent company Embracer Group.