With staff layoffs seemingly happening every week, if not every day, it’s a tumultuous time in the games industry. Racing game studios aren’t immune, with Codemasters letting staff go last December after F1 23 underperformed. Unfortunately, LEGO 2K Drive developer Visual Concepts is the latest games studio to suffer layoffs.
2K Games lays off staff at Visual Concepts
First reported by Game Developer, 2K Games has laid off an unknown number of staff at Visual Concepts Austin across departments including production, design, and QA. “Today Visual Concepts Austin laid off me and a group of very talented developers,” Art Manager Brad Bowling wrote on Linkedin.
“I have had a great time over the past couple of years working with some of the finest Game Devs in the industry. Over the past 23 years of making game art, I have seen some downturns but nothing like this.”
Founded in 1988, Visual Concepts has several divisions around the world, with the Austin studio working on the NBA 2K series and, most recently, LEGO 2K Drive.
LEGO 2K Drive: An underrated racing gem
Developed in secret for five years, LEGO 2K Drive was one of the biggest surprises of 2023 for racing fans. It's a fun arcade racer for all ages, with a destructible open world, LEGO’s signature irreverent humour, and a surprisingly comprehensive car builder.
It’s essentially a modern spiritual successor to the popular LEGO Racer series but with an open world. Sadly, this didn’t stop it from underperforming.
Sales data was never revealed, but price drops soon after launch may indicate it didn't sell well. It was also free-to-play on PlayStation Plus in December, just over six months after launch, as a way of enticing players to visit Bricklandia.
Unlike other LEGO games like Star Wars and Marvel, 2K Drive isn’t based on an existing IP and has an original story, making it a harder sell. Reviews also criticised its egregious microtransactions, which may have put some players off. It's a shame because it's some of the most fun we had in a racing game last year.
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