Machinima, a gaming staple of the 2000s, is shutting down and laying off 81 employees. The move was confirmed late Friday, and comes in the wake of Machinima being folded into Warner's Otter Media.
According to Deadline, the 81 layoffs are verified by a California Employment Development Department WARN Report filing. They were actually announced to the employees earlier last week and those affected are expected to leave on March 16th.
The company's statement is as follows: "A select number of Machinima employees remain with the company, which is now actively providing services to supercharge the combined portfolio of Otter Media. Machinima has ceased its remaining operations, which includes layoffs. Russell Arons still remains with Machinima, and is assisting with transitional activities as she explores new opportunities.”
Arons took charge of Machinima back in 2017, shortly after the company was acquired by Warner Bros. Back at the time, she spoke excitedly about taking the company in a new direction, one heavily based in VR and esports. “Gamers are into trying what’s new,” she told The Wrap last year after touting the brand's foray into more VR-themed content.
Unfortunately, those plans had little time to take off. In 2018, Warner Bros. parent company Time Warner was bought by AT&T. That created an issue as AT&T had its own gaming-themed branch in Otter Media. In particular, Otter Media had Rooster Teeth, which is well-known for producing the same kind of content Machinima did.
The inevitable happened right at the beginning of this year when AT&T decided to streamline its digital assets. This meant bringing Machinima under the Otter Media banner. Again, Otter already had Rooster Teeth, so some staff was deemed redundant. Around 10% of Otter Staff were laid off in December in anticipation of the restructuring.
That leads to a few weeks ago, when fans noticed that all of the videos on Machinima's YouTube channel were set to private, a move effectively seen as a shutdown. Sure enough, many content creators who worked with Machinima were contacted days later and told that Machinima was being absorbed into Otter Media's Fullscreen. Those who didn't counted themselves as being fired, and corporate layoffs were expected.
The layoffs happened on Friday, signaling the true end of Machinima. The name might still be brought out by Fullscreen to lend projects a certain legitimacy in gamers' eyes, but it will not be the same Machinima as before. Our hearts go out to the laid off employees and we hope they can find new opportunities in the near future.