Strange news today coming from the folks over at Gameloft. While the company just announced their Q4 2012 earning which shows the company making quite the improvement when it comes to profit, showing a 27% increase in revenue over Q4 2011 profits. For Q4 2012 Gameloft pulled in a consolidated sales total of €57.7 million which also marks the company's bigest quarter last year. So with such an increase in profit, news of Gameloft shutting down their India studio seems a bit strange.
With 250 people now out of work, the entire Gameloft Hyderabad studio has been shut down on the same day the company posts some impressive growth in terms of revenue. It, however, gets a little be stranger than that.
According to sources affected by this closure, everything was business as usual for Gameloft's Hyderabad studio this morning. Eventually rumors started floating around that by noon the studio would be closed, giving almost no one except for probably the higher up executive team any notice that this was going to happen, or even the possibility of it happening. At 2:45pm a company-wide meeting was held where the bad news was explained to everyone.
If you think that is strange then this next bit of information is going to really fry your noodle. Apparently the company allegedly asked its employees to sign a note lying about their resignations being voluntary. This entire situation is so abrupt that after the meeting employees were asked to immediately pack up their belongings and leave along with the company internet being disabled and its balcony doors shut.
Before employees left the studio though they were asked to sign two forms: A form saying they were leaving for personal reasons rather than being laid off (pre-dated from yesterday, January 28th) and an acceptance of resignation from Gameloft dated Tuesday the 29th.
According to Gamasutra who has been speaking with sources at the affected studio, many people haven't signed either form yet due to these people thinking that the forms look 'fishy'. Well the entire situation seems rather odd and extremely abrupt for a studio closing. If more details are released, we will be sure to post an update.
Gameloft's Hyderabad Studio was mostly responsible for porting iOS game releases over to Android.
Update January 30th, 11:00am: According to Gamasutra who contacted Gameloft for a statement about this closure, Gameloft refuses to comment on any of it to the point that they won't even acknowledge that there was a studio closure at all. More former employees seem to be coming forward as well confirming everything that happened during this abrupt closure of Gameloft's Hyderabad studio. According to one former employee "producers and employees at top-level hierarchy weren't aware of this news last morning." meaning this was kept very hush hush until everything happened.
People call it fishy, shady, illegal or whatever, and yes they should because management was in (a) real hurry to complete the process of signing the docs that too within 2-3 hours after announcement. They didn't even consider giving time to employees to seek help from their legal adviser. They didn't bother to answer major and obvious concerns too! - Anonymous former employee
Apparently the choice to close the studio came from Gameloft's head office in Paris and the reason for the closure? The studio wasn't profitable which seems unbelievable to the former employee who posted his story over on Gamasutra confirming everything that happened yesterday morning. Now some former employees are considering taking legal action against Gameloft.
As more information rolls in we will be sure to update everyone.