Popular Battle Royale Fall Guys Hit By Epic Games Layoffs

Epic Games acquired Mediatonic in 2021 after its colorful battle royale, Fall Guys, became a multiplayer sensation early in the covid-19 pandemic. Now, it’s laying off tons of developers at the UK-based studio as part massive cost cutting at the Fortnite maker.

In Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s email to staff today about the more than 800 layoffs, which was subsquently shared on the company’s website, he said the company would continue to invest in its games. “We aren’t cutting any core businesses, and are continuing to invest in games with Fortnite first-party development, the Fortnite creator ecosystem and economy, Rocket League and Fall Guys,” he wrote.

But some developers impacted by the decision immediately started sharing the news they had been cut from the studio on social media. Staff in the office even apparently took the letters normally used to display the company’s name and rearranged them to spell “Decimation.” The image was tweeted out by Ed Fear, designer and writer on Mediatonic’s 2020 Ace Attorney-style visual novel, Murder By Numbers.

“Unfortunately, I am one of the people affected by the layoffs today at Epic,” he wrote. “I’m absolutely devastated to leave behind so many amazing Mediatonic colleagues who I loved.” Others impacted include game designers, level designers, and artists. It’s not clear how many people in total were laid off from Mediatonic, or how many developers are still working on Fall Guys. A spokesperson for Epic Games declined to share specifics, but called reports that the entire team had been let go “false.”

Mediatonic was cofounded in 2005 in Uxbridge, England by Dave Bailey and Paul Croft. The small indie startup was widely known for making flash games until it released the shooter Who’s That Flying?! for the PlayStation Portable in 2010. It then made a remake of the cult-hit Hatoful Boyfriend and worked on various mobile releases including Gear Pop! and Fable Fortunate. But it wasn’t until Fall Guys became a break-away hit in 2020 that Mediatonic’s profile blew up and it was subsequently bought by Epic.

The parent company transitioned the online multiplayer platformer where players maneuver clumsy beans through surreal obstacle courses from a paid model to a free-to-play one more in-line with Fortnite. This came with season passes and the expectations of constant updates and new costumes for fans to be able to purchase. Epic also pulled the game from Steam. Amid fears it’s been stagnating, some of the game’s hardcore fans routinely pine for a major overhaul and revival.

“Very hardworking, super-talented and genuinely nice colleagues got laid off at Epic/Mediatonic today,” tweeted Fall Guys game designer Beatriz Díaz Martín. “Many of them friends I have worked with for years.”

When big tech comapanies announced mass layoffs earlier this year, Sweeney responded with a meme about how Epic Games banded together when things got tough unlike Google, Meta, and other Sillicon Valley giants. It’s not clear yet whether Sweeney is taking any pay cuts as part of the latest cost-saving measures.


RuneScape Ditches Battle Pass After Players Revolt

The just-introduced RuneScape battle pass has nowhere near the longevity of the 22-year-old game to which it belongs: after debuting the pass on September 4, developer Jagex plans to terminate it on December 3, it wrote in an October 6 update post.

RuneScape fans have won the war. They initiated it immediately after Jagex debuted the Hero Pass, which tacks onto the $80, 12-month, premier membership tier that unlocks every RuneScape area and gameplay mechanic. The Hero Pass was meant to give players a new event every three months in which they would do things like earn points for cosmetics—so, your typical battle pass, but players already couldn’t stand RuneScape’s increased reliance on microtransactions in its Treasure Hunter loot boxes.

Their anger erupted with Hero Pass’s debut in September, and, according to recent negative Steam reviews, people who have been playing RuneScape for 15, 16, or even 20 years decided to give it up.

“Jagex have always been controversial in their updates, mostly due to their cash grabs through microtransactions, and the latest [battle pass] update takes the cake,” a negative review with 160 “helpful” ratings as of this writing says. “[Microtransactions] have killed this game. As a player of 16yrs of grinding, I am out. Time to find other alternatives.”

Jagex tried pacifying fans on September 6, writing in a blog that it was “looking to work towards areas where we can make this [battle pass] system better for everyone,” but players maintained they were disturbed by a battle pass in any form. It didn’t help that this one was so lackluster, though.

“I’m a whale and I hate battle pass,” said one Reddit post on the Runescape board with over 1,000 upvotes. “The constant in-game pop ups are intrusive, most of the cosmetics are lackluster at best, […] who is this battle pass even for?”

The feedback stacked until Jagex got the message.

“Every single player of RuneScape—whether currently active or taking a break—matters,” it decided in its October blog. “RuneScape has a long future ahead of it, and we intend to make that an ever-better experience where players have more influence on how the game evolves.”

And so, “we will not be releasing another Hero Pass after [current season] Underworld ends on December 3rd,” “we have done this to recognize questions it raised that do not reflect our direction for the game,” and “if we pursue a new reward-system, it will be built with players and not involve Content Buffs with Membership/paid disparity.” Power to the people.