Blockchain gaming, as showcased by ATMTA’s recent actions with their much-anticipated game, Star Atlas, isn’t immune to the challenges faced by the wider tech and crypto sectors. At the end of July they announced massive layoffs of more than two-thirds of the staff, why did it happen?
In a recent discussion, ATMTA’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Wagner, emphasized that the decision was crucial for the project’s longevity. “The team saw a reduction of about 122 members,” Wagner stated, highlighting the significant decrease in their workforce. From a peak of 235 members in 2022, ATMTA’s team now stands at 45. This number encompasses both direct employees and collaborators from partner studios who were integral to the game’s development.
Wagner took to Twitter, expressing the difficulty of the decision: “Releasing so many talented individuals from our team was not easy. These are professionals I’d bring back without hesitation. This move, however challenging, aligns us better for growth in the future.”
The Star Atlas community first learned of the layoffs via the game’s Discord channel. Wagner pointed to market dynamics and the necessity to realign finances for sustained development of the Solana-based space-themed NFT game. He mentioned that the company had to reassess its budget and development requirements to ensure the game’s infrastructure remains intact.
However, Wagner did admit that this downsizing might influence the game’s development, especially its full-fledged version powered by the Unreal Engine, a leading tool for developing top-tier games. “Our main product, the Unreal Engine line, will likely see the most significant impact,” he noted.
Given the high costs associated with developing top-quality games, ATMTA’s focus will now shift to nearing-completion products that can potentially drive traction and boost Star Atlas’s revenue. Wagner elaborated, “While we have consistent monthly earnings, it’s not sufficient to sustain a top-tier team with substantial monthly expenses. We’re resizing the team to a more manageable size, with a particular emphasis on activating the economy.”
Despite the reduction, Wagner remains committed to the game’s vision and plans to rebuild the Unreal Engine team eventually. “Our vision remains unchanged. We’re merely refocusing on tasks that offer immediate returns, aiming to expand our user base and increase revenue,” he said.
Further complicating matters was the $16 million loss ATMTA faced when FTX faced issues last November. Wagner revealed that they managed to recover a significant but lesser portion of the lost funds by selling their claim to a distressed investment fund.
Reflecting on the journey, Wagner said, “When we started in January 2021, we had just a vision and a white paper. That vision generated hundreds of millions, but it was never enough for Star Atlas’s completion.” He emphasized that the need to generate revenue was always there and remains unchanged.
In the unfolding narrative of Star Atlas, it remains an enigma whether the recent actions were merely redundancies stemming from the mission’s delivery or if they signaled the beginning of a more calculated disbanding of the project and its personnel. If these actions are driven by a well-thought-out strategy to ensure the company’s survival, it’s commendable. However, should it emerge that the intent is a gradual dissolution, the repercussions could cast a shadow not only on Star Atlas but also on the broader gaming and crypto industries. The failure of such a prominent entity could raise concerns and doubts about the viability and future of these sectors. As with many intricacies of time, only the future will shed light on the true nature and implications of these decisions.”
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.