Firaxis, the developers behind XCOM, Civilization and Marvel's Midnight Suns, has reportedly been hit with layoffs, with a reported 30 employees being let go from the company.
Despite being the developers behind some of the most beloved strategy games in the past few console generations, the last few months have been rather rough for Firaxis, who is perhaps best known for XCOM but most recently also delivered the excellent Marvel strategy game, Marvel's Midnight Suns. Earlier this year, the studio lost Jake Solomon, the director of Midnight Suns and the XCOM franchise and a developer who was with Firaxis for two whole decades.
Unfortunately, it seems like that shakeup was just the beginning of a rough time for Firaxis. As reported by Axios, earlier today at least 30 employees were hit with layoffs at the studio, which a 2K representative claimed was only a "small number". According to that representative, the cuts are a "sharpening of focus, enhancements of efficiencies, and an alignment of our talent against our highest priorities", and that "Firaxis remains focused on developing critically acclaimed video games".
Although the 2K representative claimed that these layoffs were just a "sharpening of focus", it seems likely that the poor sales of Marvel's Midnight Suns have had an impact on the studio. Just before Jake Solomon left the studio, it was reported by Bloomberg that Midnight Suns had failed to meet its sales expectations, something that was made evident by the game getting big discounts not even a month after it had launched.
Following the poor sales of Marvel's Midnight Suns, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed that "it’s possible the release window wasn’t perfect", but that he hoped the game's sales would have a long tail and eventually end up selling well, just like some of Firaxis' other games. Nothing has been said of the game's sales since then, but it's likely that they haven't improved all that much if the studio is being hit with layoffs just half a year after Midnight Suns launched.
Then again, Firaxis is just the latest in a long list of layoffs across the gaming industry in 2023, so it could have absolutely nothing to do with sales numbers. Earlier this year, Microsoft was hit particularly hard by layoffs with employees at Bethesda, 343, and The Coalition all leaving the studio and since then we've seen the belt tighten around Meta, Unity, EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Riot Games, Deck Nine, Sega, CD Projekt Red and more. Our heart goes out to all those affected at Firaxis and every other studio that's been hit so far this year.