Kaos workers fear studio closure

Kaos workers fear studio closure

By Rob Crossley

January 25th 2011 at 10:45AM

Studio boss responds to concerns that staff will migrate to Montreal

Developers at New York studio Kaos fear they will soon have no choice but move to THQ’s new Montreal site or lose their jobs.

Concerns are mounting that "some or all of the team will be moving to a studio space in Canada", an inside source told Develop.

Many of the studio’s 200-odd workers are "worried about their jobs", the source added.

In response to the claims, Kaos general manager David Votypka did not rule out any scenarios.

“This is certainly a concern I am aware of at Kaos, and have taken questions from the staff about it on a number of occasions,” Votypka said.

The news comes after many of the 200-odd staff at Kaos were at the centre of a row concerning crunch periods and overtime.

Owning publisher THQ has asked many at the studio to work minimum ten-hour days for six months in order to complete the Homefront project. Now staff are turning attentions to what happens when the project is completed.

“If [Homefront] does poorly will we be laid off? If we the game does well and we keep our jobs do we get to stay in New York?” the source asked.

“As you can imagine all of these questions weigh heavily on our minds, and even more so for those with kids in school, houses, family, spouses with jobs in the area, etcetera.

“After crunch time is over who wants to be told they have to move to another country or they have been laid off?”

Kaos owner THQ recently opened a 400-person-capacity studio in Montreal. THQ core games boss Danny Bilson said the massive complex would be filled by “people from the community in Montreal and all over the world.”

One of THQ Montreal’s biggest attractions is the generous tax break subsidies it receives in Quebec. Development studios in the region are offered at least 35 per cent tax relief on labour and production costs.

Kaos, currently based in the costly city of New York, is now at risk of being muscled out.

“With the opening of the THQ Montreal studio the goal has always been to find a way to utilise that studio in future Kaos projects,” Votypka said.

He added this was because the Montreal base was “a lower cost centre”.

“Seeing as New York is not the most inexpensive location to develop games, utilising Montreal one way or another is understandable,” Votypka claimed.

In a bid to curb discontent at the studio, Votypka is currently negotiating terms with THQ.

“We've submitted various shared development scenarios to THQ, each have different pros, cons, and different costs,” he said.

“They are all being considered, but I don't expect that their final decision will be made for some time yet.”