Visual Concepts Austin has seen an unknown number of layoffs.
As reported by Game Developer, a former associate software engineer at the company, Sydney F, shared the news on LinkedIn. They said:
“Well after a great year of working at Visual Concepts Austin it’s sad to say I’ve been laid off as of today along with several other amazing colleagues. I will miss all of those that I worked with greatly.
It’s definitely rough as it’s only been a year and a half since I was previously laid off as well. Even in this tough market I found a job once I can hopefully do it again.”
Visual Concepts goes all the way back to 1988, and started out making various games for different companies, such as Spot: The Cool Adventure on the Game Boy and Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf for EA on the Sega Genesis. They helped make some of EA’s sports games, leading to a partial investment in 1995.
But things changed for the company in 1997, when Sega acquired them for the purpose of making original sports games on the Dreamcast to rival EA. NBA 2K starts in 1999 on this platform, and puts them on the road to becoming EA’s greatest competitor in the genre.
On 2005, Take-Two Interactive acquires Visual Concepts and the 2K franchise, and subsequently launches the 2K publishing label, for sports and non-sports games under the company.
As of today, Visual Concepts has 9 smaller studios under them, including some around the world, one dedicated to WWE, and Visual Concepts Austin. But Visual Concepts Austin actually started somewhere else.
Hookbang is a software company founded in 2012, that does work including, but not exclusive to, video games. In March 2021, Take-Two Interactive bought the video game division within Hookbang and renamed them to Visual Concepts Austin.
So the people who were laid off today aren’t from the original Visual Concepts, but were actually from a completely different company called Hookbang. Prior to their acquisition, the Hookbang developers were helping Visual Concepts on the NBA 2K franchise.
And so it seems, as was the case with many layoffs in the past two years, Hookbang’s/Visual Concepts Austin’s staff were victims of being acquired when their parent company had the money, and then being left out of the lurch after their parent’s priorities changed. It’s unfortunate that this trend is still going, but we can only hope that it ends soon.
GameRanx wishes the former staff of Visual Concepts Austin well, and hope they can find placement back in the industry.