David Jaffe, the director of games in the Twisted Metal and God of War series of video games, announced today that his studio has suffered from massive layoffs. The studio, called The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency, had its only major release in Drawn to Death, a PlayStation 4 third-person shooter game that released in April of 2017.
Drawn to Death had a unique art style, with the aesthetic matching that of a teenage boy's notebook of doodles. The characters and environments all appeared to be hand-drawn, and players can choose between several wacky weapons in four-player online combat. However, the shooter was not very well received by critics, who cited the game's sophomoric and juvenile brand of humor and its mediocre gameplay and physics as large sticking points. After the apparently underwhelming performance of the game, fans of Jaffe's previous work were curious to find out what the director might be cooking up next.
According to Jaffe, not so much anymore. The developer, known for his provocative language and behavior on social media, was transparent and earnest about recent hardships in his San Diego-based studio, announcing the following via Twitter:
Wanted y'all2hear it from me before anyone else:we've had a project canceled and have been forced2lay off the vast majority of the Bartlet Jones staff gaming division. More news2come but for now, that's what's up.Heart's breaking4the amazingly talented crew that's out of work :(.— David Jaffe (@davidscottjaffe) January 23, 2018
The Bartlet Jones studio had an unannounced project in the works, but production appears to have ceased. It is unknown exactly how many game developers have lost their job at the studio, which was co-founded by Jaffe and Nick Kononelos. In the replies to Jaffe's tweet, other game developers are wishing the laid off workers well, and pointing them in the direction of other potential jobs.
It is certainly an unfortunate turn for Jaffe - he co-founded the studio back in 2013, sometime after he left his previous studio Eat Sleep Play, a studio that he himself founded. With Eat Sleep Play, Jaffe worked on a PlayStation 2 port of Twisted Metal: Head On and a new Twisted Metal for PlayStation 3. Eat Sleep Play shut down in 2017, five years after Jaffe's departure.
Jaffe is infamous for his negative and sometimes hostile engagements with video game journalists and critics. After mediocre and lukewarm reviews for his game Calling All Cars!, Jaffe fired off on specific publications regarding their review scores. Similarly, Jaffe aired his grievances with some video game critics for their bashing of Drawn to Death and its comedic sensibilities. A quick scan of Jaffe's gameography will show a downward trend in terms of quality and critical reception, leaving the gaming community curious to see what this creative mind now without a studio can possibly do next.