Reports from Red5 employees state that the developer of Firefall failed to meet the two-week payroll scheduled for December 25. Red5 is yet to officially comment.
In rather sobering news, reports are coming in from sources within Firefall developer Red5 that the studio has been unable to meet payroll. According to multiple sources which have been in contact with Kotaku, Red5 notified its employees via email that they will not be paid for the payroll scheduled for December 25. No mention was made as to whether payroll will be met at a later date, and at least one of the sources expects the worst.
Several of the sources, anonymous employees from Red5, provided a copy of the email which the studio sent out regarding payroll:
I regret to inform you that Red5 currently does not have the funds necessary to meet our payroll scheduled for today Friday, December 25. Due to this, there will not be payroll paid this week.
Red5 and The9, our parent company, is currently working to resolve this, during the holidays, as soon as possible. We are hopeful we’ll be able to resolve this and will update the team immediately.”
Employees were not warned prior to this email that they would not be paid, or that there was even a threat of not being paid. That is to say, that all Red5 employees worked the prior two week payroll period wholly believing they would be paid on December 25 and now have to deal with the reality that they may not get that money, nor perhaps be paid for any future work they do for the studio.
Evidence of trouble within Red5 Studios has been well documented over the past several months. November saw the layoffs of 40 employees, with another 10 following in December after the launch of Firefall in China. That’s said to be a 40% reduction of workforce. Further back, Red5 sold a majority stake of the company to Chinese company The9 in 2010. In other words, Firefall‘s development has unfortunately been in a tenuous state.
An anonymous Red5 employee took to Reddit and started an Ask Me Anything thread, providing some perspective into the employee perspective of today’s events as well as his thoughts from the past few years:
“I really think we were in the process of getting to the point of success, and I genuinely hoped that all the work we’d done, especially over the last tireless year was going to help us relaunch a game that was going to blow people away.
I know we burned a lot of time and traction redoing various systems like crafting. And I wish we saw what we were doing with stuff like that earlier on, but that’s in the past. For the last 18 months the studio had been diligently trying to make Firefall the very best possible game it could be, and I felt that the relaunch was going to be the “make it or break it” moment.
I really thought we were going to have management support up to and a little past the relaunch.
Now I think we’re too far gone.”
Just goes to show that game development is such a unique industry. Few others could demand such loyalty from those that work within it. Only now, after years of troubled development and a missed payroll, are most Red5 employees forced to come to terms with the fact that Firefall and Red5 may be facing an ending.
Red5 has yet to release an official statement regarding the reports of missed payroll. Expect an update should any such statement be published in the near future. Best wishes to all of those affected by the ongoing situation at Red5.