Epic Games acquired Mediatonic in 2021 after its colorful battle royale, Fall Guys, became a multiplayer sensation early in the covid-19 pandemic. Now, it’s laying off tons of developers at the UK-based studio as part massive cost cutting at the Fortnite maker.
In Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s email to staff today about the more than 800 layoffs, which was subsquently shared on the company’s website, he said the company would continue to invest in its games. “We aren’t cutting any core businesses, and are continuing to invest in games with Fortnite first-party development, the Fortnite creator ecosystem and economy, Rocket League and Fall Guys,” he wrote.
But some developers impacted by the decision immediately started sharing the news they had been cut from the studio on social media. Staff in the office even apparently took the letters normally used to display the company’s name and rearranged them to spell “Decimation.” The image was tweeted out by Ed Fear, designer and writer on Mediatonic’s 2020 Ace Attorney-style visual novel, Murder By Numbers.
“Unfortunately, I am one of the people affected by the layoffs today at Epic,” he wrote. “I’m absolutely devastated to leave behind so many amazing Mediatonic colleagues who I loved.” Others impacted include game designers, level designers, and artists. It’s not clear how many people in total were laid off from Mediatonic, or how many developers are still working on Fall Guys. A spokesperson for Epic Games declined to share specifics, but called reports that the entire team had been let go “false.”
Mediatonic was cofounded in 2005 in Uxbridge, England by Dave Bailey and Paul Croft. The small indie startup was widely known for making flash games until it released the shooter Who’s That Flying?! for the PlayStation Portable in 2010. It then made a remake of the cult-hit Hatoful Boyfriend and worked on various mobile releases including Gear Pop! and Fable Fortunate. But it wasn’t until Fall Guys became a break-away hit in 2020 that Mediatonic’s profile blew up and it was subsequently bought by Epic.
The parent company transitioned the online multiplayer platformer where players maneuver clumsy beans through surreal obstacle courses from a paid model to a free-to-play one more in-line with Fortnite. This came with season passes and the expectations of constant updates and new costumes for fans to be able to purchase. Epic also pulled the game from Steam. Amid fears it’s been stagnating, some of the game’s hardcore fans routinely pine for a major overhaul and revival.
“Very hardworking, super-talented and genuinely nice colleagues got laid off at Epic/Mediatonic today,” tweeted Fall Guys game designer Beatriz Díaz Martín. “Many of them friends I have worked with for years.”
When big tech comapanies announced mass layoffs earlier this year, Sweeney responded with a meme about how Epic Games banded together when things got tough unlike Google, Meta, and other Sillicon Valley giants. It’s not clear yet whether Sweeney is taking any pay cuts as part of the latest cost-saving measures.