Star Citizen Studio Denies Reports of Layoffs as Crowdfunding Sails Past $600M
As the Star Citizen crowdfunding juggernaut continues to surge forward, with the game amassing an astonishing $600 million in funding, Cloud Imperium Games, the developer behind the project, has firmly denied reports of widespread layoffs within the studio.
The monumental $600 million milestone was recently reached, a mere year after the achievement of the $500 million mark, as proudly displayed on the Roberts Space Industries funding goals page. However, amidst the celebration, eyebrows were raised when a former Cloud Imperium QA tester named Theodore Hirschfeld posted a message on LinkedIn, claiming to have been “recently affected by the layoffs that are transpiring at the moment.”
This announcement set off a flurry of speculation and discussions on the state of affairs at Cloud Imperium, particularly within the Starfield subreddit. One notable post came from an individual who claimed to be a former long-time employee of Cloud Imperium Games. In this post, they accused the studio of financial mismanagement, although they conceded that they were not privy to any information regarding a wave of layoffs at the studio.
Similar allegations of staff reductions emerged anonymously on the Pipeline Discord, a dedicated server for Star Citizen leaks and discussions. One message painted a grim picture of the development team, suggesting that it had been downsized to the point where single-digit teams of developers were performing tasks typically handled by an entire level design team, with the majority of resources being funneled into the prioritization of Squadron 42 development.
However, support for the layoff claims failed to solidify. No other developers came forward to report being laid off, and intriguingly, Theodore Hirschfeld, whose LinkedIn message initially sparked the controversy, later updated his status, confirming that he was still employed at Cloud Imperium, now as a member of the player experience team. In response to inquiries from PC Gamer, Cloud Imperium Games issued a strong statement refuting the reports of layoffs.
A representative from Cloud Imperium asserted, “Reports of widespread layoffs at CIG are false. We have grown from 900 to 1100 employees this year, due to organic growth and the completed acquisition and integration of Turbulent into CIG. As part of this process, we looked at where we could increase efficiency by making sure the key teams working together were co-located, which resulted in us determining 9 roles were better suited in other locations. This is natural for a company that has grown as we have, and as a normal business practice, we regularly look for ways to make our operations more efficient. We continue to recruit for key roles in the company.”
Certainly, there are legitimate reasons to scrutinize the development progress of Star Citizen. Despite more than a decade passing since the project’s initial announcement (and even longer since development commenced), and despite the incredible $600 million in crowdfunding, the game remains in an alpha state, with no clear indication of when, or even if, it will advance to beta testing. A full release appears almost inconceivable at this point.
Undoubtedly, this extended development timeline and the game’s persistent alpha status have led some followers to harbor skepticism about the project. However, it’s worth noting that, despite the immense financial resources at their disposal, there is no concrete evidence to support the claim that Cloud Imperium Games has been laying off employees. The studio maintains that its workforce has grown, reflecting ongoing efforts to refine and improve their development process.
Update: It’s important to clarify that the initial report regarding Star Citizen layoffs incorrectly mentioned the r/Starcitizen Discord as the source of the secondary report. In reality, it originated from the Pipeline Discord.