New World Interactive, one of the most beloved independent FPS developers to come out of the modding scene, has been hit with a major round of layoffs. The studio's parent company, Embracer Group, is responsible, as it continues to struggle with debt.
Embracer, which had acquired NWI in August, 2020, has been on a death march of cost-cutting that began in the summer, and has so far resulted in six months of constant job cuts and studio closures, which Embracer dubbed "restructuring."
New World Interactive is technically a subsidiary of Saber Interactive, which is amongst the Embracer Group's many holdings. Reports about the news initially suggested the studio had been entirely shuttered, but Saber has since clarified that it's only let go of developers.
Second Wind's Nick Calandra was first to bring attention to the goings-on at NWI, and sources later told Insider Gaming that an internal announcement was made on Monday. Saber Interactive later released a statement clarifying the situation, though without offering any figures as to the number of people affected.
"Saber can confirm there have been restructuring changes involving our New World Interactive subsidiary," said Saber. "This reorganization has unfortunately resulted in layoffs at the studio."
"We are working to fill existing open roles within Saber with individuals affected by these changes wherever feasible and we will be providing severance packages to those employees impacted," the statement adds.
The company also confirmed that work on Insurgency: Sandstorm, NWI's most recent release, will continue alongside development of unannounced projects. One such project, however, will seemingly not see the light of day.
Calandra later shared a public statement made on LinkedIn by one of the people affected by the layoffs, who said that the project they had been working on was cancelled. They, along with "most" of their team were let go.
New World Interactive was officially founded in 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Before it formed as a proper outfit, the team released Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat, an immensely popular Source Engine total conversion mod, which was designed as an accessible tactical shooter with a realistic damage model, authentic weapon sounds/feel.
NWI turned it into a full standalone game in 2014 - Insurgency, and followed that up with WW2 tactical shooter Day of Infamy in 2017. The studio shifted from Source to Unreal Engine 4 with the exceptional Insurgency: Sandstorm, which made it out on PC in 2018, before arriving on consoles in 2021.
The studio has been supporting Sandstorm since release with new content, and several tweaks to performance and gameplay. NWI also has a secondary branch, which it established in 2019 in Calgary, Alberta.
In the last six months alone, Embracer has shuttered legendary studios like Saints Row maker Volition - just as it celebrated its 30th anniversary, and closed down Timesplitters developer Free Radical. Many of the studios owned by Embracer suffered layoffs, with Fishlabs being the most recent.
Since Embracer announced its restructuring plans, the company has laid off more than 904 people - not including the recent closure of Free Radical, or the downsizing at New World Interactive. There's no telling when this process will end.