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Long-time Staffers At RPS, GamesIndustry.biz, VG247 Surprised By Layoffs As IGN Buys Network

“At least one person from almost any department at a company like this you can imagine got some bad news today”

Gamer Network

Today, IGN Entertainment announced that it has acquired the Gamer Network of sites – which includes Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, GamesIndustry.biz, and VG247 – from Reedpop, which owns PAX and has been looking to get out of the games press business since last year. The other shoe dropped immediately, with layoffs hitting at least three of the aforementioned sites.

So far, Alice Bell at RPS, Stephany Nunneley-Jackson at VG247, and Brendan Sinclair and Jeffrey Rousseau at GI.biz have publicly stated that they were impacted by redundancies. Notably, almost all of these writers and reporters are longtime industry vets; both Sinclair and Nunneley-Jackson had been at their respective sites for more than a decade and occupied managerial positions, and Bell was RPS’ deputy editor. These are people who broke and helped break news in an industry with vanishingly few left to do that job. 

According to Bell, more have been laid off than just those who’ve spoken up so far. 

“The Network has lost a lot of phenomenally talented people, both in front-facing editorial and in more behind-the-scenes roles,” she told Aftermath. “It looks like at least one person from almost any department at a company like this you can imagine got some bad news today.”

According to both Bell and another ex-Gamer Network employee who was granted anonymity out of concerns regarding severance and future prospects, redundancies appear to have targeted many – perhaps all – Gamer Network employees outside the UK.

"Not everyone who was made redundant is based outside the UK, but it's starting to look very much like everyone based outside the UK has been made redundant,” said Bell.

According to laid-off staffers, employees were aware that a sale was in the works. They were not forewarned about layoffs, however.

“There were rumblings and updates about the sale process for a couple months now,” said the ex-Gamer Network employee. “They never said exactly who was buying us but I think most people had a pretty good idea. I wasn't informed about the possibility of cuts. But like, I wouldn't be, would I?”

Another ex-employee who was granted anonymity for similar reasons echoed this sentiment, saying that "the layoffs caught everyone off guard" even though "the announcement of when a sale would happen was known."

Bell had asked management about the possibility of layoffs, only to be reassured that everything would be fine.

“I'd asked specifically about my job because I'm based in Ireland, outside the UK, and was told the company was intending to sell us lock and stock, so all employees would stay employed on the same basis,” she said. “I was expecting shrinkage after the sale, because that always happens, but not immediately, and honestly not myself because RPS doesn't have an editor at the moment, so without [me] it just won't have editorial leadership. More fool me, eh?”

Those who’ve lost their jobs at Gamer Network hope that, for the sake of their colleagues, IGN’s leadership ushers in a new era of stability at the revered network of sites. But they have their doubts. 

“I don't want to guess about how this will impact sites other than saying morale will be in the toilet and the people remaining will have to pick up the output of those who were cut, so it's not going to be much fun for them either,” said one ex-Gamer Network employee.

"Just as I am against the consolidation of video game developers, I am against the consolidation of video game websites, so I cannot see this as a good thing,” said Bell. “I am most worried about people's livelihoods, but I am also very worried that they won't be allowed to be weird and write thoughtful, critical things. I worry that, now that the machine has increased in size, it will necessarily crush my most talented peers from the Network into writing boring, SEO-focused things designed to appeal to the averaged-out reader. But people aren't average, so when you try to appeal to the average you end up appealing to nobody."

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