The Witcher Multiplayer Spin-Off Studio Hit With Layoffs Due to Game Reboot: Report
The Witcher multiplayer spin-off game — codenamed ‘Sirius’ — underwent a major overhaul last week, thanks to a developmental restart that defined a ‘new framework.’ In the process, developer The Molasses Flood has reportedly laid off 29 employees — 21 team members in the US and eight from Poland. The Boston-based studio, best known for the roguelike survival game The Flame in the Hood, was confirmed to be leading development on The Witcher multiplayer spin-off last year, with direct support from CD Projekt Red. At the time, a single-player campaign mode was mentioned as well, though now, it’s unclear if it’s still on the table.
The Molasses Flood was founded in 2014 by a group of veteran developers who worked on Halo and BioShock, after which, it was acquired by The Witcher maker in 2021. “Because the project changed, so has the composition of the team that’s working on it–mainly on The Molasses Flood’s side,” a CD Projekt Red spokesperson said in a statement to Kotaku. Back in March, the publisher filed an impairment charge on Sirius, which is naturally done as a means to write off assets because they serve negligible value to the company. But during a financial earnings call in April, the company confirmed that the project had not been cancelled and that it was simply being reevaluated.
“So this is a project which is, I would say, insourced. It’s also new to us in terms of design and format. For those reasons, it’s very different from the big productions we are known for,” Adam Kiciński, CEO, CD Projekt Red, said in the Q&A session. “To stay competitive, we have to keep looking for new ways to extend our franchises.”
The multiplayer-focused ‘Sirius’ was announced in October last year, alongside plans for a new The Witcher trilogy — dubbed ‘The Witcher Polaris’ — and an open-world remake of the first game in the fantasy RPG franchise, fully rebuilt from the ground up using Unreal Engine 5. Polish studio Fool’s Theory is leading development on it, which consists of veteran The Witcher series staff and likely follows the same story as the original — monster hunter Geralt of Rivia going on a quest to regain his memories across a fantastical landscape. While the 2007 title received an Enhanced Edition before, this one is the first time it’s being fully rebuilt. Meanwhile, we already received an update on The Witcher 4 in March 2022, which marks the first entry in the new trilogy.
CD Projekt Red is also working on the Cyberpunk 2077 expansion, Phantom Liberty, featuring actor Idris Elba as Solomon Reed, an FIA agent for the ‘New United States of America.’ Currently, there is no release date for the same but is expected to drop sometime this year on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S/X. During the October presentation, the publisher also announced a sequel, codenamed ‘Orion,’ which is touted to take the “Cyberpunk franchise further and continue harnessing the potential of this dark future universe.” Kiciński noted at the time that development on the sequel was still in the early stages and required further growth of the team.