Poor Too Human sales on Xbox 360 culprit to Silicon Knights lay off?

October 7, 2008

Poor Too Human sales on Xbox 360 culprit to Silicon Knights lay off? Too Human developer Silicon Knights recently announced plans to lay off 26 of its 180 employees.  The clues seem to indicate that the lay off might be due to the lackluster reception and sales of the recently released game, Too Human.

In a recent PR statement from Silicon Knights, Dennis Dyack, president and founder of the company, announced plans to lay off 26 employees.  He states that this is a normal business practice coming off of a ramp up of production after a launch.

He said:

“After any big game ships, there is always some attrition.  Teams are lean and mean in the beginning, grow toward the end of the project, and then whittle down once the project is finished.  To that end, Silicon Knights temporary [sic] laid-off 26 employees today while they ramp up on other projects.”

Dyack also stated, “Silicon Knights is currently working on several new and exciting games that will be announced to the public in the coming months.”

It does seem a bit odd that if Silicon Knights were in the midst of starting work on several new games that it would lay off people.  Those resources could be shifted from Too Human onto the other projects.

I’m afraid the real reason may be due to poor sales, which is most likely the real reason for the downsize. Too Human shipped in August 2008, selling around 160k units for the month.  Also, estimates for the past month and a half place sales around 300k.

The sales figure might not seem all that shabby, but considering the development life of the product on the Xbox 360, it may not be enough to cover the development cost.  Also, the costly legal battle from Silicon Knights’s lawsuit against EPIC Games over the Unreal Engine 3 might have put some financial strain on the company as well.

According to Joystiq, a source suggests that some of the employees in the layoff include “a few long-tenured ones.”  Normally if you plan to lay off short-term employees (contractors) the layoff would not include staff that has been with the company for a while.

We hope that this is not a sign that Silicon Knights might be in for some tough times ahead.  Even though Too Human received middling review scores on average, some of the studio’s past titles have been excellent. I am sure this studio will be back with some hard hitting titles in the future.

Check out our review of Too Human for more details about the game.

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