Luke Plunkett, Aftermath:

Remember how in February publisher Take-Two–who, thanks to Grand Theft Auto, have more money than you or I could ever conceive–had no current layoff plans, then two months later went out and laid off 600 people? We’ve learned today via Bloomberg that among those 600 people are everyone at two of the company’s studios: Intercept Games (Kerbal Space Program 2) and Roll7, which are both being closed.

While it’s still unclear what the future will hold for Kerbal Space Program 2–a game that hasn’t had the best time since launching last year, but will apparently still be receiving “updates”–I had a particular fondness for Roll7, a studio that was only bought by Take-Two in 2021! It had been around in some form since 2008, and in that time had developed a ton of very cool video games, from the side-scrolling skateboarding series OlliOlli to rollerskate murder simulator Rollerdrome to the much-expanded OlliOlli World.

This absolutely sucks. The OlliOlli games – along with Rollerdrome – are some of the most fun, polished, unique and engaging experiences I’ve had in gaming over the last few years, and now, because they were acquired just 3 years ago, and Number Must Go Up, this talent team is being gutted, drawn and quartered.

Going beyond official recognition, I also honestly believe the OlliOlli titles are some of the best skateboarding games ever made, and that the studio should be applauded for the work they put into making their games look amazing as well; Roll7 games had such a unique and vibrant style that in a previous life I wrote art features on both OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome in the same year.

But now two entire studios are toast, all because a company with revenue in the billions woke up one day and decided it didn’t need to keep them around anymore. And why would they, when all they really care about is shaking people down for spare change every second minute they’re playing Grand Theft Auto Online or NBA 2K.

And that’s the point. What’s the line in Mad Max: Fury Road? “Do not, my friends become addicted to water, it will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”

These super studios are so massive, and so dependent upon the recurring DLC revenue of live service games and its ilk, that they’re cutting themselves down to just those sorts of titles. Much like the drum I keep beating about movies, we’re fast approaching in gaming the place that the movie industry has arrived in: you get two games now – the massive AAA blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto VI or Assassin’s Creed: This Years Location and Era or the stunning, quirky indie successes, like Vampire Survivors or Balatro.

The last two weeks, I’ve found myself immersed in the gaming of the 90’s and 00’s, thanks to Delta on my phone and the Miyoo Mini+ I just got in the mail. You know what’s great about those games? They’re simple. The gameplay is the focus. You don’t need to buy DLC. The experience is contained.

I may be Old Man Yelling At Cloud here, but game studios – seriously – lower the production values, up the actual value for the customer. There’s a reason why so many years on, the Nintendo Switch was outselling the new gen systems.

In the meantime: I hope the Roll7 team lands as well as they can, and should they decide to re-form and start a Kickstarter for their next project, I’m there Day One.