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View Full Version : Microsoft makes big cuts at Flight Sim studio.


SheepFactory
01-23-2009, 07:10 PM
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21981

Redmond, Washington-based ACES Studio, the Microsoft-owned internal group behind the venerable Microsoft Flight Simulator series, has been heavily affected by Microsoft's ongoing job cuts.

Development sources have told Gamasutra that a large portion of the dev house's staff has been let go - with multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed.

The Microsoft-owned Flight Simulator is possibly the game industry's longest-running continuous franchise.

The first Microsoft-branded version was released in 1982, and ongoing development stretches back over more than a quarter-century and twelve main versions.

The most recent version, Flight Simulator X, was released in 2006 and said to have been a success, with an expansion in 2007. A Microsoft representative had confirmed at that time that further editions of the game were in development.

Corroborating the reports, Twitter messages from collaborators of the Flight Simulator workers are claiming that the layoffs occurred earlier today, following Microsoft's announcement that it would immediately cut around 1,400 jobs.

The Flight Sim series is well-known not just for its official releases, but for its unusually dedicated fan base, which has produced copious amounts of user mods and resources for players.

Also in development at ACES Studio was Microsoft Train Simulator 2, the followup to Kuju's original 2001 game. The sequel was previously speculated to be releasing this year. Furthermore, ACES Studio was responsible for Microsoft ESP, a wide-ranging "visual simulation platform" based on Flight Simulator X technology.

The future of the three software lines in or out of house is unclear, particularly given how extensive the ACES Studio layoffs are said to be, but Gamasutra has contacted Microsoft for comment on the report.


The layoffs continue. EA also laid off like %80 of the Blackbox staff here in Vancouver yesterday. Best of luck to everyone in finding new jobs. :(

francomanko
01-25-2009, 08:37 PM
i know their business models/plans and management graphs must all be indicating to lay people off to maximise profit etc, and I certainly would not say I had much of a clue on how those models work, but I just can't seem to imagine that microsoft are so hard up that they can't try and weather the storm slightly longer than they have, regardless of the profitability of certain products.

Surely its about time that people's lifes play a part in a companies business model and not just sales.

Or am I wrong and Microsoft and EA truely are skint?

cheebamonkey
01-26-2009, 03:43 AM
i know their business models/plans and management graphs must all be indicating to lay people off to maximise profit etc, and I certainly would not say I had much of a clue on how those models work, but I just can't seem to imagine that microsoft are so hard up that they can't try and weather the storm slightly longer than they have, regardless of the profitability of certain products.

Surely its about time that people's lifes play a part in a companies business model and not just sales.

Or am I wrong and Microsoft and EA truely are skint?

basic management for any large company. You get rid of departments that aren't pulling their weight anymore or after reorg'ing and realizing you don't need those people anymore. Pretty simple and easy to understand, really.

francomanko
01-26-2009, 08:54 AM
Hang on, we aren't talking about work on a contract basis here. If you are hired on a permanent full time basis you should at the vey least expect to have a certain level of job security in return for your hard work.

I also doubt they weren't pulling their weight. Sales might be down yeah but thats hardly the fault of the artists is it, well not usually anyway?

My original point is that it feels that companies business models don't seem to include people as anything other that numbers or assets that can be dumped as soon as things get tough. I know this from experience and although it maybe be the norm in business these days,and 'easy and simple to understand' as you suggest, it doesn't make it right .

It wasn't that long ago that layoffs bizarrely resulted form the merger between Activison and Vivendi, all in the same year that Activision recorded huge profits. From an artists point of view that seems a tad unfair don't you think?

P_T
01-26-2009, 09:22 AM
It's always easier to squeeze their own employees than it is the competition.

telecaustic
01-26-2009, 07:05 PM
Hang on, we aren't talking about work on a contract basis here. If you are hired on a permanent full time basis you should at the vey least expect to have a certain level of job security in return for your hard work.


The answer is no, you should not expect job security in the current economic state the U.S. If a company's income is nearing or less than it's operational costs, projects, departments people get the boot. Period. It has happened me a couple times and certainly wasn't pleasant but at some point a person needs to take some responsibility and understand the playing field. And in my opinion I can still have empathy for those who lost their jobs, but I will bet dollars to donuts that there was writing on the wall and some of them saw it a while ago and quietly brushed the dust off their resume.

Christopher Watson

richcz3
01-26-2009, 08:06 PM
Anyone who enjoys flight sims (non arcade) knows that the market has been in a steep contraction over the past 15 years. It is about as niche as one could get in PC gaming. And its sorry to say but the MS Flight Sim was long in the tooth with its last release. MS all but shelved the Air Combat series which was bested by IL-2 (which is still going strong).

Anyone who visits flight sim forums knows how contentious and unforgiving sim player users can be. The last iteration for both series had allot to be desired and users had their say. So it should not be a shock that in this severe economic climate that ACES was shut down. Its hard to imagine any flight based game (PC or otherwise) getting the green light. THQ cancelled Stormbirds (http://kotaku.com/5122754/a-look-at-the-cancelled-never+announced-stormbirds) because of what they considered too "high risk" in the current market.

Imhotep397
01-26-2009, 09:13 PM
Flight sims are not first person perspective games so they don't have that "automatic in" advantage right now, but an innovative company that actually was invested in a market would have figured out a way to make the engine profitable. There's no shortage of kids (big or little) that want to experience flying, that's what the built the market demand in the first place not popular trends. Anyway, the moral of the story is Microsoft is too large and slow to have any real investment in many areas, yet they hold on to IP and technology in far too many areas still. It's unfortunate and I hope for the best for every that lost their job because of this.

Garibaldi
01-27-2009, 12:41 AM
We are figuring that about 120 to 150 people just lost their jobs. My boss there, Pete, (I was on contract for TrainSim and FlightSim until early last month) was part of Microsoft for 10 years, and now he's out looking for work like the rest of us.

Hey Franco? In this day and age, there is no such thing as job security. Anywhere.

francomanko
01-27-2009, 12:53 AM
The answer is no, you should not expect job security in the current economic state the U.S.

Christopher Watson

How can companies who have consistently made huge profit margins for years all of a sudden get to a point where they have to dump so many staff? Did they forget to save for a rainy day during the good times or are they trying to maintain profits at the expense of their people?

Companies have a commitment to their staff not just in good times but the bad as well. The cynic in me just doesn't believe that Microsoft, EA, Activision to name a few are holding up their side of the bargain.

I apologise for being naive and idealistic..it gets me into a surprising amount of trouble ;)

DuttyFoot
01-27-2009, 12:56 AM
If you are hired on a permanent full time basis you should at the vey least expect to have a certain level of job security in return for your hard work.

job security, whats that. no job is 100 percent secure permanent or not. at the end of the day it comes down to shareholders and company profit. it really sucks for all the people that lost their jobs in this company and all the other companies throughout the U.S.

scrimshaw1803
01-27-2009, 01:10 AM
Companies have a commitment to their staff not just in good times but the bad as well. The cynic in me just doesn't believe that Microsoft, EA, Activision to name a few are holding up their side of the bargain.

I have to agree. Everyone seems to simply assume this is just business but really, humanity is nothing but a bunch of hyenas trying to scavenge as many carcasses as they can. And when all that is left is entrails and bone marrow, the stronger hyenas just drive any others away to ensure they get their fill.

I'm not talking about poor performers, or business objectives that make no sense, I'm talking about businesses that see "bad quarter results" = "fire a bunch of people."

Heck, if I loose a job and can not pay my mortgage, I'll get criticized for not being prepared by having enough savings for 6 months of expenses. But businesses seem to be one quarter away from doom.

And anyway, wasn't it this same self centered bottom-line thinking that caused Scrooge to be visited by 3 ghosts? I guess in a book or movie, all that driven sounds touching and wise. But in real life, we'd all be the ones asking "are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?"

kili
01-27-2009, 11:59 AM
I have to agree. Everyone seems to simply assume this is just business but really, humanity is nothing but a bunch of hyenas trying to scavenge as many carcasses as they can. And when all that is left is entrails and bone marrow, the stronger hyenas just drive any others away to ensure they get their fill

We've had the plug pulled on our building, nice. Yes don't expect humanity from these guys, but don't get mad get even. Keep saying yes to whatever they want while they are paying you then drop them when you have something else. The domino effect they have unleashed here is most likely going to take the whole business down as people just walk and projects fail. Ah well tough luck share holders and customers. Keep talking to friends in your chosen industry as these guys more likely to find you work than any dizzy HR person.

richcz3
01-27-2009, 05:51 PM
Here's the suggestion for all the idealists that think running business is greed based - Consider starting your own business and practice what one is preaching on. Put your risk and interests last and then tell your prospective employees what you owe them. Of course not.

Better - the next time one seeks employment - why not lay down the law. Maybe people should tell their prospective employer what they deserve for their "loyalty" up front. Of course not.

The harsh reality some people are seemingly oblivious of is that getting and maintaining a job in the coming year(s) will be more cut throat than ever. It's very clear there will be and are very talented people being let go. Many of these will be aiming for the same positions - you have - or want. The entrepreneurs and risk takers amongst them will actually start their own business. Ask them what they owe you.

fattkid
01-27-2009, 11:07 PM
Call me naive, but the whole notion of companies/corporations/institutions taking care of us and offering us job security seems not only very unrealistic, but unnatural. For thousands of years, man has basically had to be personally accountable and responsible for his and his families/loved ones personal well being. I think the last 100 years or so of industrialization/factories/corporations providing us with a means to survive/live comfortably have lulled us into a false sense of what we should have to provide for ourselves and what we expect others to provide for us.

Don't get me wrong, my sympathies go out to all those affected, but maybe this is a very necessary reality check.

francomanko
01-28-2009, 09:01 PM
Call me naive, but the whole notion of companies/corporations/institutions taking care of us and offering us job security seems not only very unrealistic, but unnatural.

I can see your point, but its sad that you would accept that screwing people over is natural, it may be the norm but certainly not natural.


http://kotaku.com/5140716/thousands-of-jobs-lost-very-quietly-at-ibm (http://kotaku.com/5140716/thousands-of-jobs-lost-very-quietly-at-ibm)

fattkid
01-28-2009, 09:31 PM
francomanko - I think you might have misunderstood my post. I never said anything about "screwing people over", nor did I say doing so is natural or acceptable. My point was that change/adversity/less than ideal circumstances are a natural, cyclic components of life. Layoffs, firings, bankrupties etc. have gone on for generations. We all know that, and on some level it seems pretty reasonable to plan in some way for such things. I don't see how getting a job somewhere can make someone exempt from that fact of life.

And as mentioned before, I still feel very much for those who are negatively affected.

anobrin
01-28-2009, 09:45 PM
My point was that change/adversity/less than ideal circumstances are a natural, cyclic components of life. Layoffs, firings, bankrupties etc. have gone on for generations. We all know that, and on some level it seems pretty reasonable to plan in some way for such things. I don't see how getting a job somewhere can make someone exempt from that fact of life.


Brilliant!!
agree completely

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