Dauntless and Fae Farm studio Phoenix Labs hit with layoffs, restructuring following investor buyout


Last week, we learned the disturbing news that Dauntless and Fae Farm studio Phoenix Labs has been hit with what our sources tell us were sizable and abrupt layoffs.

The news first surfaced on Twitter as Director of Corporate Communications Justin Kranzl announced he’d been laid off. Linkedin posts show that the layoffs also affected a Senior Global Community Lead, Video Lead, and Video Editor, among others. Two described the layoff as a “team reorg,” while another referred to it as a “company restructuring.” Head of NA Publishing & Marketing at Phoenix Labs Ash Thukral, who was apparently not impacted, appears to have confirmed the layoffs in a reply to Kranzl.

Readers will recall that a year ago, Phoenix Labs bragged that it was working on almost 10 new games “ranging from early R&D to being in full production” and representing “everything from science fiction to fantasy, strategy to action, casual to core – and everything in between.” One of those games was Fae Farm, a cozy co-op farming sim title announced last fall for a spring 2023 launch.

However, in February of this year, Phoenix Labs triumphantly announced that it had secured investment to extricate itself from Singapore-based Garena, which had owned it since 2020. Phoenix Labs did not disclose who the investors and new owners were, nor did it disclose the purchase price. And then just two weeks ago, Phoenix Labs announced that Fae Farm has been delayed to “late 2023.” We also understand that several of the unannounced titles have also been canceled.

Phoenix Labs has made no official statement about the layoffs, so we reached out to the company directly last week and did not receive a reply, which is unfortunately often what happens when you abruptly axe your Director of Corporate Communications and the comms chains are broken behind the scenes. In fact, the company’s media email was dead (never a great sign), and we got no reply from the company’s core email.

Specifically, we asked how many workers were affected, how workers were being compensated, what was the proximate cause of the layoffs, whether Dauntless and Fae Farm development were impacted, whether Fae Farm’s delay was a result of this move, whether any of the other dozen-odd games PL claimed to be working on were impacted, whether PL still feels those projects were wise, whether the layoffs were a result of the investor-backed buyout of the company earlier this year, who exactly were the investors, and who owns the company right now. The company has not responded to any of our questions.

Our sympathies to the workers affected by the layoffs.

Source: Twitter, Linkedin
Phoenix Labs still hasn’t answered our questions, but it did confirm to GIbiz that the layoffs affected 9% of its workforce; the company says it will “focus on fewer development projects” in order to provide “the best opportunity for the success of Fae Farm and Dauntless, as well as the remaining unannounced titles” – no number given there. “Assistance for job placement in an effort to ease transition for all affected employees” is reportedly underway.
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