Firefall studio Red 5 doesn’t know the spirit of Christmas


While most everybody celebrated Christmas morning with presents and/or hangovers, the people at Red 5 Studios stumbled into office with a completely different Christmas surprise.

Emails were sent across the company announcing that there would be no payroll that day. The e-mail read:

I regret to inform you that Red 5 currently does not have the funds necessary to meet our payroll scheduled for today Friday, December 25. Due to this, there will not be payroll paid this week. Red 5 and The9, our parent company, is currently working to resolve this, during the holidays, as soon as possible. We are hopeful we’ll be able to resolve this and will update the team immediately.”

Red 5 is the company behind the massively multiplayer action role-playing game Firefall, and was founded by many former employees of Blizzard Entertainment that worked on World of Warcraft. The company has had a rocky history of layoffs and restructurings. In 2013, Mark Kern was forced by the board of directors to resign from his position as CEO. It was later revealed that Kern had a mercurial management style and was prone to outrageous demands.  In November, there was another round of layoffs described as an “organization optimization” brought about by a shift in strategy. 

Missing payroll is a troubling sign for any company, let alone for one as troubled as Red 5. More distressing however, is the fact that employees were not informed in advance of the situation with the aforementioned e-mail being their only notice. An unnamed employee indicated to Game Informer‘s Mike Futter that there’re even more troubling signs: their payroll website shows a deposit amount that was voided, and payroll ought to have been issued on Thursday due to Christmas Friday being a bank holiday.

Already some members of the game development community has rallied to help out the employees of Red 5. Cher Stewart, a software engineer at Blizzard created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for them. Let’s hope Stewart can raise enough money for these poor guys.

“I’m pretty much the breadwinner,” one employee told Futter. “I was pretty depressed, but I was setting aside my feelings so I could at least have a good Christmas Day with my family. I was going crazy inside. This situation has possibly left me in a position where if I can’t come up with something in the next three weeks, I might not have this apartment.”

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