Microsoft Studios team hit with layoffs in restructuring [Update]

While Microsoft may have named a new leader of its Xbox gaming division this week, other members of that team got word on Wednesday they won't be working at the company anymore. At least two now ex-employees have posted word online they were laid off from Microsoft Studios in Redmond.

One of the people affected by the changes was artist Patrick Loughman who posted word on his Twitter page his position was eliminated Wednesday:

A technical producer at Microsoft Studios, Elbert Perez, revealed he was laid off Wednesday, but used his Twitter message to promote a new game he is working on that's seeking funding via Kickstarter:

Neowin has contacted Microsoft to see if they wish to offer an official comment on the layoffs, including just how many people were affected. This news comes just two days after the company announced that Phil Spencer, the previous leader of Microsoft Studios, had received a promotion to become the head of the entire Xbox division, which includes Microsoft Studios.

Update: It looks like Mr. Loughman has now deleted his original Twitter message but he still references his layoff from Microsoft in other Twitter posts.

Update 2: A Microsoft spokesperson has now sent Neowin a statement:

At Xbox, our goal is to constantly create new fun, social and interactive entertainment experiences. As part of our commitment to this goal, we are always evaluating our development priorities, and there are times when decisions need to be made to realign plans and refocus our efforts. Microsoft Studios continues to grow as an overall organization as we focus and invest in key priority areas that will drive future profitable growth. While we do not discuss personnel decisions, the team affected was small relative to the overall size of Microsoft Studios.

Source: Elbert Perez and Patrick Loughman on Twitter | Image via Microsoft

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The game itself by Elbert Perez does look unique, I have to say. Based on his twitter messages, his original plan was to start the KickStarter on the 7th but I guess receiving the boot pushed him to do it now. He seems to be handling it a lot more professionally than Patrick Loughman who made that 'I'm free!' comment.

Restructuring often helps companies offload the less desirable employees.

I think people read far to much into things and you could question the professionalism of both.

It's hard to have faith in Microsoft's "recommitment to PC gaming" (something it has announced numerous times over the years) when it's jettisoning employees from its main gaming studio. Microsoft used to be a major player in game development / publishing (Age of Empires, Starlancer, Freelancer, Combat Flight Simulator), now it's a joke.

Acquiring Rare didn't help in any way either. There weren't just so many great, easy to play games from Microsoft in the 90s, but some classic gaming hardware too. Remember all those hardware/software videos included on the Windows 98/SE disc? The whole gaming hardware/Microsoft Home was scrapped.

As much a slave as in every other major tech company. And many of them have questionable practices regarding visas and hiring.

That's a real shame, more unique first party content would have helped the Xbox One. Instead, MS closed down a lot of their internal studios the year before the Xbox One launched and now this. Hopefully it really is only a couple of people and that the team continues to put out a lot of the content that the Xbox One needs to stand out.

Geezy said,
That's a real shame, more unique first party content would have helped the Xbox One. Instead, MS closed down a lot of their internal studios the year before the Xbox One launched and now this. Hopefully it really is only a couple of people and that the team continues to put out a lot of the content that the Xbox One needs to stand out.

Be careful not to associate employment changes with a reduction in products or focus.

Microsoft is also trying to establish better relationships with developers and one way to do that is to stop building competing products.

Geezy said,
That's a real shame, more unique first party content would have helped the Xbox One. Instead, MS closed down a lot of their internal studios the year before the Xbox One launched and now this. Hopefully it really is only a couple of people and that the team continues to put out a lot of the content that the Xbox One needs to stand out.

This doesn't mean much, people come and go, there was probably a good deal of overlap because of the reorg and someone had to go.

Besides, it's like no one noticed all the layoffs Sony did to it's own first party studios a week or two ago, I don't see anyone worrying about that.

Mobius Enigma said,
Be careful not to associate employment changes with a reduction in products or focus.
Of course not, as I mentioned it could merely be a symptom. Closing down internal studios however is unmistakeably a reduction in focus.
Microsoft is also trying to establish better relationships with developers and one way to do that is to stop building competing products.
So why don't they stop developing Halo in order to make other FPS developers more welcome on the platform? *smh* Sorry, but that seems ridiculous, almost 80% more games are planned for the PS4 vs Xbox One (212 vs 143) and Sony has a huge stable of "competing products".
George P said,
This doesn't mean much, people come and go, there was probably a good deal of overlap because of the reorg and someone had to go.
I agree, the headline is quite sensational.
Besides, it's like no one noticed all the layoffs Sony did to it's own first party studios a week or two ago, I don't see anyone worrying about that.
Agreed, but Sony has a ton of internal studios and second party developer partnerships.

Edited by Geezy, Apr 3 2014, 8:35am :

Although actually a lot of people felt the Amy Hennig departure, it sucks for a franchise to lose such great talent. Hopefully she will continue to work on successful games. The Studio Liverpool closure sucked too. But other than that there is so much strength in the various Sony studios that it's hard to be upset about the state of things.

That's all Microsoft studios seem to do is lay people off, they certainly aren't producing any new IP for any of their gaming hardware.

Not the studio called "Microsoft Studios", they shut down studios that were under different names and severed ties with developers not listed here. On another note, looking at that list, I really doubt studios such as Skype Engineering Team or Mobile Gaming will help with Xbox One, these guys aren't all dedicated to the Xbox One's games.

Sad to see Elbert Pérez laid off. I remember all the games he made for windows phone 7 back when I still had my Samsung Focus. He had the highest rated games in the store at one point.

efjay said,
If he wanted his freedom so badly he should have quit already.
Quitting can be a really hard decision, sometimes getting a "kick in the ass" is the best thing that can happen to you

Part of an issue within Microsoft is the hiring of individuals who are not out to better the company.. give 110% all-the-time

I do hope Microsoft eliminates every single individual whos performance record shows he/she does not fit

ZipZapRap said,
As an employer, I wouldn't hire someone that wrote that on social media (the first comment)

Yeah tell me about it. WTF? Way to make his loyalty questionable. Even if it's a joke, you don't simply joke like that the same moment as you're let go.

Northgrove said,

Yeah tell me about it. WTF? Way to make his loyalty questionable. Even if it's a joke, you don't simply joke like that the same moment as you're let go.
Why should he be loyal to a company that just layed him off?

generally.. If you Like or even love the company you work for.. Your first thought/tweet would not be one of Joy

It would be more along the lines of... "S_it, this is the worst day ever"

But apparently with this layoff, MS is better for it

Rudy said,
Why should he be loyal to a company that just layed him off?

New companies are mistrustful of people who badmouth their former employers/company. They wonder what that person will say about their own company when that person leaves.

McKay said,
New companies are mistrustful of people who badmouth their former employers/company.
Yes, but they should also look at both sides of the story before judging.

McKay said,
They wonder what that person will say about their own company when that person leaves.
If they don't ill-treat employees and part ways amicably why should they be wary?

McKay said,

New companies are mistrustful of people who badmouth their former employers/company. They wonder what that person will say about their own company when that person leaves.

High profile companies tend to only hire skilled employee's so Ms, Google, Apple employee's of note are highly skilled and can find a job elsewhere despite venting about letting go.