Epic Games lays off 16% of workforce, Rocket League esports majorly affected

29 September 2023


epic games logo on black background
Image credit: Epic Games

Video game and software developer Epic Games has laid off 16% of its workforce, the company announced in an internal email sent to employees on Thursday. 

The layoffs span many of the company’s divisions but appear to include major cuts to staff working on Rocket League esports. Epic Games bought Rocket League developer Psyonix in 2019.

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Jake Friedman, formerly an Esports Product Manager at Epic Games, was among the prominent names in Rocket League’s esports scene that have been affected by the layoffs.

In a post on X, Friedman said: “I’m proud to say I’ve had a hand in Rocket League Esports spanning back to RLCS Season 4 as an Open Qualifier Match Admin, leading up to today as an Esports Product Manager. But, along with many other amazing folks at Epic Games, I was laid off today.”

In replies to his post on social media, Epic Games employees, former colleagues, broadcast talent and professional players alike poured in to thank him for his contribution to Rocket League esports. “Jake [Friedman] IS Rocket League Esports,” wrote Murty Shah, current Product Manager Rocket League at Epic Games.

Chloe Jones, former Esports Content Specialist for Epic Games, who worked on social media, content and talent management for Rocket League, also announced she was affected by the layoffs.

“To say I’m heartbroken and shocked is an understatement,” she said in a comment on Reddit. “Rocket League Esports has been my home since college, where I worked on it as a student leader in CRL. Although I don’t know what’s next for me, I do know that I love this esport and the community behind it. I won’t be a stranger to the RLCS no matter what.”

Esports Insider couldn’t immediately verify the number of people on the Rocket League Esports team that were affected. However, a former Rocket League Esports Program Manager not affected by the layoffs claimed in a post on X that only three employees were left on the Rocket League Esports team.

Matthias Dean, a regional manager for Rocket League’s North America circuit, also posted on X after the layoffs that while he hadn’t lost his job, “almost everyone that I work with has within the last month lost theirs.”

Rocket League Esports arena
Rocket League has been growing as an esport, breaking a record for peak viewership in August. Image credit: Psyonix / Rocket League Esports

In the internal email, CEO Tim Sweeney said the layoffs were the result of the company spending more money than it earns.

“While Fortnite is starting to grow again, the growth is driven primarily by creator content with significant revenue sharing, and this is a lower margin business than we had when Fortnite Battle Royale took off and began funding our expansion. Success with the creator ecosystem is a great achievement, but it means a major structural change to our economics.”

Sweeney added that conducting layoffs now would stabilise the gaming giant’s finances. “Epic folks around the world have been making ongoing efforts to reduce costs… But we still ended up far short of financial sustainability,” the email read.

Affected employees will receive six months’ severance pay among other benefits, per the email. Epic Games also revealed it had sold audio distribution platform Bandcamp, and would spin off ‘most of’ youth marketing company SuperAwesome.

Jake Nordland
Jake has worked at Esports Insider as a journalist and editor since early 2021. Now ESI's Media Manager, he continues to act as lead editor of print magazine The Esports Journal, and contributes his words to the website from time to time.