Two employees of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) have left unexpectedly in one day, and another has given two weeks notice in an unexpected staffing change at the Star Citizen developer that has raised some eyebrows among backers.
Community Manager James Pugh and Associate Marketing Producer Alyssa Delhotal were both let go on September 24 according to their tweets:
Did not see that coming. Odd day
— James Pugh (@jamespugh) September 25, 2015
Well then. Quite a curveball today.
— Darth Alyssa (@AlyssaDelo) September 24, 2015
The September 25 episode of Reverse the ‘Verse show on twitch.tv confirmed these departures and added that Production Coordinator / Art Outsourcing Manager Lisa Ohanian has given her two weeks notice. Lisa Ohanian was known for running the “Ship Shape” segment in Around the ‘Verse, which showcased progress on the virtual spaceships.
Paul Forgy, Senior Technical Artist / Tools Specialist, is also no longer employed by CIG according to his LinkedIn profile, though the nature of his exit from the company is not as clear.
A current Roberts Space Industries forums moderator, and former CIG paralegal, Steven Kam weighed in on why CIG has not been forthcoming about the circumstances surrounding these changes. According to Kam, the policy that “employment matters… are generally not appropriate for discussion” is standard practice in the industry, intended to protect employees. Though it may seem like cold radio silence on a topic that many backers have expressed concerned about, he says it is “the policy of grownups.”
CIG critic Derek Smart noted that this shakeup had followed the publishing of his fifth blog post on the subject of Star Citizen, titled “The Long Con.” It included a letter supposedly penned by David Jennison, a former Lead Character Artist with CIG in Austin whose LinkedIn profile indicates a departure from the developer in August. The letter, if real, is a damning critique of the art team’s micromanagement by CIG head honcho Chris Roberts, especially the revision of concept-level features of character models after they had progressed past the concept phase of development, and the “Frankenstein” models that resulted from this after combining work from many different iterations and artists.
Derek Smart claims that he did not necessarily receive the letter from Jennison himself, and that Jennison may have forwarded it to other employees of CIG, one of whom then forwarded it to Derek Smart. He also claims that according to his sources Sandi Gardiner, CIG’s Vice-President of Marketing, referred to two employees she suspected of leaking the letter as “fuckers,” resulting in them walking out.
Wading into less substantiated territory, Derek Smart claimed that 9 CIG Austin employees have been “informed that their jobs are being eliminated in October” and that more will be informed soon, that the Austin office will be closed by the end of 2015, and that the developer only has 8 million USD left and a monthly expenditure of “around $3.5m”.
He finished his long tweet by exhorting readers not to trust “the media”, “Chris’ friends”, or “Ben Lesnick”.
CIG’s official comment on the staffing changes is as follows:
Cloud Imperium Games continues to grow its development team across CIG’s multiple studios. Each of our four offices is being streamlined to focus on specific parts of Star Citizen which will allow for a more efficient and accelerated completion of the game.
As we announced in June with the appointment of Erin Roberts as Global Production Head we have been reviewing how to optimize our development process, as a result we are moving some jobs and eliminating some redundant positions between some of our offices, as well as increasing them in others. The net result over the next few months will actually be an increase in our global internal employee base.