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Star Citizen studio denies reports of layoffs as crowdfunding campaign sails past $600M

 Gary Oldman in Squadron 42
Gary Oldman in Squadron 42

As the Star Citizen crowdfunding machine somehow continues to grind ahead—the game has now surpassed a staggering $600 million in funding—developer Cloud Imperium Games says reports of widespread layoffs at the studio are false.

The $600 million mark, visible on the Roberts Space Industries funding goals page, was passed earlier this week, less than one year after the $500 million milestone was achieved.

But it came alongside a LinkedIn message posted by Theodore Hirschfeld, a former Cloud Imperium QA tester, who said he was "recently affected by the layoffs that are transpiring at the moment."

That sparked speculation and conversation about the state of affairs at Cloud Imperium on the Starfield subreddit, including a lengthy post from someone claiming to be a former long-time ClG employee who accused the studio of financial mismanagement—although they acknowledged that they weren't actually aware of a wave of layoffs at the studio.

Similar claims of cuts were shared anonymously on the Pipeline Discord, a server dedicated to Star Citizen leaks and discussion:

In case you're wondering how the PU team is doing - it's been reduced so much that we have single digit teams of single developer disciplines doing the work of... well at this point the entirety of a level design team for one example. Shit's going to a stand still outside of maintenance to heavily prioritize S42.
In case you're wondering how the PU team is doing - it's been reduced so much that we have single digit teams of single developer disciplines doing the work of... well at this point the entirety of a level design team for one example. Shit's going to a stand still outside of maintenance to heavily prioritize S42.

But support for the layoff claims never solidified: No other developers reported being let go, and in fact Hirschfeld, whose LinkedIn message got the ball rolling, said in a recent update that he's still with Cloud Imperium, now as a part of the player experience team. And in a statement sent to PC Gamer, Cloud Imperium said the reports were flat-out false.

"Reports of widespread layoffs at CIG are false," a Cloud Imperium representative said. "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."

There are plenty of valid reasons to be critical of Star Citizen: It's been more than 10 years since the project was revealed to the world (and even longer since development began) yet despite all that time, and $600 million in crowdfunding, the game remains in an alpha state and there's absolutely no indication as to when, or even if, it will move to beta testing. A full release is almost beyond imagining at this point.

That's definitely unusual, to say the least, and you can understand why some followers would find the whole thing a little sketchy. But as far as firing employees while awash in cash goes, that just doesn't appear to be the case.

Update: The story originally indicated that the secondary report of Star Citizen layoffs was shared through the r/Starcitizen Discord. It actually originated on the Pipeline Discord.