Techland to shut down Polish distribution arm, will lay off up to a dozen employees [UPDATE]

Dying Light 2 and global publishing are both unaffected.

Update (2/28/2019): Techland has issued a statement from CEO Pawel Marchewka, affirming the details GameDaily shared in the original story below.

After months worth of market analysis we have started the process of shutting down the Polish publishing and distribution department. The process will last until the end of 2019. This only applies to 3rd party boxed goods on the Polish market. For several years physical distribution has not been the core of our strategy, which is to develop the best AAA action open-world games.

These changes have no impact on our global publishing plans and the development of two AAA games we are currently working on, one of them being Dying Light 2. Our company is constantly growing and developing great games. The sales of the original Dying Light are not only not decreasing, but actually continuing to grow year-on-year. Dying Light constantly reaches new audiences and and this makes us happy and shows us we have chosen the right direction. It also motivates us to work hard on making Dying Light 2 our best game yet.

I have personally made sure to take care of the affairs and future careers of the members of our Polish distribution department who will be leaving Techland. Severance packages they will receive are both above the industry and the Polish employment legislation standards. I would like to thank the whole team for the many years of great work together.

The company says that a maximum of 13 employees will be affected as the Polish distribution operation shuts down before the end of 2019. These individuals were not surprised by the change as this has been an ongoing conversation. Additionally, Techland has shared that it currently employs more than 400 and is currently recruiting approximately 50 more.

The company reiterated that it is in good financial position, and this change is strategic rather than a reaction to an unanticipated financial shortfall. Dying Light 2 remains in development and Techland is also set to publish top-down cooperative shooter God’s Trigger.

Original Story:

Techland has confirmed to GameDaily that it will be laying off six or seven employees in the coming months, and up to twelve this year as it closes its Polish distribution business.

The company, which includes Techland (development teams), Techland Publishing (that brought Torment: Tides of Numenara by recent Microsoft acquisition inXile to market), and Techland Wydawnictwo (a local distribution operation) is refocusing on AAA development and publishing.

Techland representatives confirmed to GameDaily that the company’s distribution group was where it used to make most of its money, but the shift to digital distribution has made it less profitable. There is a plan in place to gracefully shut down the division as a result to market changes that have happened over time, rather than a reaction to a sudden and unexpected shift.

Techland Wydawnictwo brings third-party games to market in Poland and most recently served as the local distribution partner for Metro: Exodus and Dirt Rally. These layoffs will only affect that portion of the business, with development and publishing entirely unaffected.

Techland follows an exceptionally difficult time for the industry that two weeks ago saw Activision Blizzard restructure and lay off 800. Earlier this week, ArenaNet was forced to let an unspecified number of people go as it prepares to merge with NCSoft West. Layoffs have become a slow drum beat playing underneath the industry’s daily operations, with September leading off a flood of studio closures and job losses that have affected thousands.

However, Polish employees will not immediately be shown the door. They will have at least three months of work, during which time HR will work with those affected to find new opportunities. A severance package, while not mandated by Polish law, is also planned for those employees.

Techland took the spotlight in 2011 with the release of Dead Island, developed for publisher Deep Silver. After a semi-sequel, Dead Island: Riptide, Techland struck out on its own with a similar first-person zombie game, Dying Light. A sequel to that game, Dying Light 2, was announced at E3 2018 and has a stronger focus on player choice and story. Longtime RPG writer Chris Avellone is helming the narrative design.

A formal statement will be issued by company CEO Pawel Marchewka tomorrow.

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Michael Futter is the author of The GameDev Business Handbook, a guide for creating and sustaining an independent video game studio, and The GameDev Budgeting Handbook. He is also the former news editor of Game Informer and has written about business and legal issues and video game industry trends for eight years.

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