TinyBuild closes indie publisher Versus Evil, all staff laid off

2023 is very near its end, but the bad news for the videogame industry keeps on coming. Just three days before Christmas, TinyBuild has laid off all staff at indie publisher Versus Evil and shut it down.

Versus Evil’s closure was initially reported by now-former employees on Twitter. “Welp. That was a fun 10 year ride. The entire Versus Evil team has just been laid off,” head of production Lance James tweeted. In a separate tweet James added, “Let me be clear—this wasn’t a Versus Evil decision or choice.”

That was echoed by community manager Christopher Trippi, who tweeted, “Unfortunately our parent company has made the decision to lay off the entire team here at Versus Evil.”

“Entire 13 person company, Versus Evil, laid off today December 22 at the start [of] our Christmas break,” product strategy director Francis Finke said in a LinkedIn post.

Versus Evil later confirmed the closure in a message posted to Twitter. “Today is a sad day,” it tweeted. “After 10 wonderful years, Versus Evil is shutting its doors. We’ve loved bringing you the best indie games we could find & sharing so many happy memories with you all, our amazing community! From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for everything!”

(Image credit: Versus Evil (Twitter))

Versus Evil was acquired by TinyBuild in 2021 for $12.5 million, with a potential $18.8 million more to be paid out over the following three years. In a video announcing the deal, TinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik described Versus Evil as “a complementary publisher that is going to expand the reach that we have in terms of genres.” 

But that deal apparently ran into trouble not long after it was completed: In a December 2023 trading update in which TinyBuild announced layoffs among its own staff, the company announced a $3.5 million settlement deal with the founders of Versus Evil—including James and Finke—over allegations that TinyBuild failed to meet “three material obligations” related to the deal, including capital contributions and other “material support” for Versus Evil.

The acquisition of Versus Evil also doesn’t appear to have worked out from a practical perspective: In the same trading update, TinyBuild said “Versus Evil continues to underperform,” citing the delay of three of its four planned 2023 releases, including Broken Roads, into 2024.

Versus Evil joins a long and ugly litany of layoffs across the game industry in 2023. Companies including Electronic Arts, Take-Two, CD Projekt, Epic Games, and numerous others have all made significant staffing cuts over the year, while studios Volition, Campfire Cabal, and Free Radical Design were closed outright as part of Embracer Group’s ongoing struggles. Large tech companies have also made deep cuts: Microsoft announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees in January, Amazon laid off hundreds of people in multiple rounds of cuts, and in March Facebook parent company Meta said it was laying off 10,000, on top of the 11,000 employees it let go in November 2022.

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