Wayfinder developer Airship Syndicate has confirmed the layoffs of 12 employees, originally reported by Nicole Carpenter of Polygon, as part of an effort to keep the studio open and operating. In an unusual twist, Airship Syndicate said company president Ryan Stefanelli and CEO Joe Madureira are also taking pay cuts.
“I can confirm that today we had to part ways with 12 of our coworkers,” an Airship Syndicate rep said in a statement provided to PC Gamer. “This decision was made to ensure that Airship Syndicate can continue to operate and deliver great experiences. In addition to reducing staff, Ryan Stefanelli, President, and Joe Madureira, CEO, will be reducing their pay while we work to secure our future plans.”
The rep added that there are currently 80 people “working full-time on Wayfinder.”
How much of a cut Stefanelli and Madureira will take wasn’t specified. It’s a bit unusual for studio executives to take pay cuts during times of trouble—typically they just skate while front-line developers are put out of work—but not entirely unprecedented: Former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick took a significant pay cut in 2021 amidst the company’s workplace misconduct scandal, which notably included his massive bonuses—a previous pay cut announced earlier that year left him with half his bonus payout intact.
Wayfinder looked very promising when we checked out an early beta in 2023, but the launch several months later did not go well, primarily due to server troubles that caused extended wait times for people who jumped into the early access launch. The result is a “mixed” user rating on Steam, where just 47% of user reviews are currently positive. Less than three months after Wayfinder launched, publisher Digital Extremes pulled the plug on its publishing division and handed “full control” of the game back to Airship Syndicate.
Despite the cuts, the Airship Syndicate rep said that “this is not the end for Wayfinder,” and that more information about the game’s future will be revealed soon.