Just a few weeks after the release of its debut game Immortals of Aveum, a fantasy FPS that replaces guns with magical spells (that feel mostly like guns), Ascendant Studios has laid off nearly half its staff.
"Today, we are heartbroken as we part ways with friends and colleagues at Ascendant Studios—about 45% of our team," Ascendant CEO Bret Robbins said on Twitter. "This was a painfully difficult, but necessary decision that was not made lightly; nevertheless, we have to make this adjustment now that Immortals of Aveum has shipped.
"I am so proud of what our independent development team has accomplished with Immortals of Aveum. Together we've created a new AAA studio, a new IP, on new technology, during an era of our industry when that is exceedingly rare. We've poured our passion into Immortals, while wearing our hearts on our sleeves. The studio will continue to work that way as we support the development of this game and our Immortals IP moving forward with future updates and offers."
The actual number of employees impacted by the layoffs wasn't confirmed, but Ascendant said in April 2023 that it had grown to more than 100 people since its founding in 2018. According to a Polygon report, roughly 40 people were let go. One former employee told the site that poor sales of Immortals of Aveum was cited as the reason for cuts.
Robbins made no mention of the game's success in the layoff announcement, but it definitely didn't make the biggest splash possible when it launched in August. We said it had "fun, engaging shooting" in our 68% review, but lacks any original ideas, and "tells a dull tale in an extremely irritating way."
It hasn't performed well on Steam, either: According to Steam Charts, Immortals of Aveum's peak concurrent player count was just 482; through most of September, there's been fewer than 100 people playing it at any given time. That's not the full picture, as Immortals of Avenum is also available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles, but I think it's probably a reasonable indicator as to the game's overall state of affairs.
I've reached out to Ascendant for more information and will update if I receive a reply.