Indie founders did what most layoff-happy executives won't, totally slashing their own salaries for months, but say they still had to cut staff

A woman looks out into Mars from inside of a space facility in a screenshot from Deliver Us Mars
(Image credit: KoenkeN Interactive)

The studio behind science fiction thriller Deliver Us The Moon and last year's sequel Deliver Us Mars is laying off four employees, even after its co-founders gave up their salaries for the "past few months" to minimize damage.

Developer KeokeN Interactive debuted with 2019's Deliver Us The Moon, an exploration-heavy game that had players escape Earth after its natural resources were depleted. Deliver Us Mars was a similarly moody romp that saw our protagonist grapple with alien terrain in a new, dangerous setting. Both were received very warmly, but the market's unending wave of layoffs has affected the team regardless.

"Sadly, we've had to lay off four of our core team of 19 this month," co-founder and CEO Koen Deetman says in a social media post. "This was decided after [managing director Paul Deetman] and I, as management, already took significant pay cuts, even to the extent of not taking any salary at all the past few months." 

Deetman says that the founding duo are "blessed to decide, plan, or do things from the company's top," but are also "burdened with taking the first hit when things get tough." They supposedly "protect the team as long as humanly possible," which is a sentiment that's all too rare in the games industry. 

In 2024 alone, Microsoft has already slashed almost 2,000 jobs in its video game department, Sony recently laid off 900 people along with canceling several projects, and conglomerate Embracer Group has shed talent just as quickly as it acquired studios. Many of those CEOs behind profitable trillion/billion dollar companies didn't take pay cuts.

Doom’s creator John Romero said he’d never “seen anything like what we’re seeing now” in regard to the recent mass layoffs. 

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.