Crytek Games Walkout
Crytek is a German game developer that was founded in 1999. It is based in Frankfurt and to date has subsidiaries in Kiev, Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey. Formerly, the developer had many more subsidiaries which were closed or sold through 2014-2017 when the company was experiencing serious financial trouble: Sofia, Bulgaria (sold, 2017); Budapest, Hungary (closed, 2016); Seoul, South Korea (closed, 2016); Shanghai, China (closed, 2016); Texas, USA (closed, 2014); Nottingham, England (sold, 2014).
On July 3 and 4, 2014 the game press reported that at least 100 Crytek employees were walking out and refusing to come to work because they were not receiving their pay cheques.
July 3, 2014: Jason Schreier at Kotaku: Sources: Crytek UK’s staff no longer going to work
July 4, 2014: Matthew Handrahan at Gamesindustry.biz: Staff walkout at Crytek UK over unpaid wages
Apparently, the lack of payment had been going on since at least March. Additional reporting suggested that employees were going without pay at the Bulgarian and German studios in addition to Crytek UK. It was reported that the company may be close to bankruptcy - though these claims were denied by the company even as it cancelled work on several games. One such game was Ryse 2, the sequel to the successful game Ryse which was published by Microsoft. As a large independent development studio, Crytek depends on multi-million dollar contracts with publishers such as the deal with Ryse 2.
June 23, 2014: Wesley Yin-Poole at Eurogamer (translated from GameStar): Crysis developer Crytek denies “verge of bakruptcy” claim
June 23, 2014: Jason Schreier at Kotaku: Rumours swirl about trouble at Crytek
June 24, 2014: Jason Shreier at Kotaku: Sources: Crytek not paying staff on time, Ryse sequel dropped
June 27, 2014: GameCentral at Metro: Ryse 2 cancelled say sources as Crytek UK staff stage walkout
Employees were greatly concerned with these lost contracts and with the cancellation of new IP projects. Many spoke of a loss of vision within the company due to a shift from console development to free-to-play games. Within this environment of financial and creative uncertainty developers began to leave the studio, moral was very low and employees were increasing frustrated with lack of communication and transparency from the management and owners.
The situation did not improve and Crytek announced at the end of July, 2014 that they would be closing their UK studio and selling the rights to the FPS franchise Homefront which they acquired from THQ when that published shut down. It was reported that many employees who shift over to the new owner Deep Silver to continue working on Homefront: The Revolution. Restructuring plans were also announced for the Texas studio - it would be downgraded to a support studio for the Crytek engine and no longer act as a development studio. It was reported that some Crytek Texas staff would be offered positions within the larger Crytek company, however many seem to have already left.
July 30, 2014: Cameron Koch at Tech Times: Crytek closes UK studio, sells upcoming game ‘Homefront: The Revolution’
This was not the end to the restructuring as Crytek continued to face financial struggles in what the company termed their transition from a ‘AAA’ game developer to an ‘online publisher’ of free-to-play games.
August 8, 2014: Wesley Yin-Poole at Eurogamer: “The transformation was painful. We paid the price”
At the end of 2016, reports surfaced again that Crytek was missing pay deadlines. Developers at numerous studios reported that pay has been late or missed throughout the year. Developers also reported being in the dark about when and why it was happening as management did not communicate with them. The shoe dropped shortly thereafter when the company announced the closure of its subsidiaries in Hungary, Bulgaria, South Korea, China and Turkey. In January, 2017 additional employees were made redundant and Warface was sold to a Russian publisher.
December 12, 2016: Jason Schreier at Kotaku: Crytek employees say they are not getting paid — again
December 14, 2016: Jason Schreier at Kotaku: Ex-Crytek artist looks to sue over unpaid salary
December 20, 2016: Jason Schreier at Kotaku: Crytek closes five studios after rough year
March 7, 2017: Dean Takahashi at Venture Beat: Crytek sells Black Sea studio in Bulgaria to Sega and the Creative Assembly
March 8, 2017: Kirk McKeand at PCGamer: Crytek employee claims to have not yet been paid in 2017
In 2018, CEO Cevat Yerli stepped down, but left his brothers in charge as joint CEOs and remains a major shareholder.
February 28, 2018: Charlie Hall at Polygon: The CEO of Crytek has stepped down