Company of Heroes studio Relic Entertainment has laid off 121 employees and says the cuts are part of an effort to restructure the studio and ensure that "maximum effort" goes into its "core franchises."
"Sega is in a healthy financial position and remains fully committed to supporting and investing in Relic Entertainment and the franchises it is responsible for, including the critically acclaimed Company of Heroes series," Relic parent company Sega said. "We’re confident that following this necessary restructure, the studio will be in a position of strength to continue delivering outstanding experiences to players all over the world.
"Making decisions like this is incredibly difficult, and as a studio that treasures its people and is proud of the culture it’s grown, the focus is on supporting departing employees with career transition services and severance packages. We would like to offer our sincerest thanks to each of them for the part they’ve played in helping Relic Entertainment's projects achieve global renown.”
Relic really only has two "core titles": Aside from a brief detour for Age of Empires 4 in 2021, it's been 12 years since the studio released a game that wasn't either Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War or Company of Heroes. Those games have all been well-received critically and commercially, with the exception of its most recent release, Company of Heroes 3, which came out in February.
We liked Company of Heroes 3 quite a lot despite some clear problems, calling it "a spectacular RTS that manages to shine even when the main campaign doesn't" in our 82% review. But it is struggling with a "mixed" rating on Steam, and "mostly negative" recent user reviews, from players unhappy with everything from the technical state of the game to the presence of microtransactions and lack of new content. The console version of Company of Heroes 3 is due out on May 30.
An announcement from Relic Entertainment. pic.twitter.com/EITW2tbG7wMay 23, 2023
Relic general manager Justin Dowdeswell and chief operating officer Heidi Eaves provided more insight into the justification for the layoffs in an email sent to Relic employees (via LinkedIn) saying that the past year was "incredibly difficult" for the studio.
"The combination of significant project delays, rapidly rising costs, high inflation, and foreign exchange rate fluctuations have had a combined negative effect on our business," they wrote. "As a result, the measure of success for a studio of our size has grown, and it has put more pressure on our titles to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
"All of these factors have led us to the decision with SEGA to reduce our studio size substantially and refocus our efforts. We will continue to support our core titles, including Company of Heroes 3, and our upcoming projects to ensure they're successful for us. We believe that making this very difficult decision now will help secure a strong future for our studio and our business."
The loss of 121 employees represents a deep cut at Relic: The company's LinkedIn page indicates that it has 201-500 employees. Sega declined to comment on the layoffs.