You were laid off… What now?

An insightful PGC London panel discusses experience with layoffs and what to do next

You were laid off… What now?

The games industry has seen a vast number of companies laying off staff over the past year across every corner of the games industry.

So at PGC London, former King SVP and founder of Armchair Productions Alex Dale, Kimaru founder and CEO Rumiko Matsumoto, Team Terrible production manager Paul Leishman and Dodreams CEO Erik Pöntiskoski, came together to discuss rebounding after being laid off, with two panellists citing their own experience…

Game Over?

Leishman started the panel off by sharing how he has been made redundant four times over 13 years in the industry, but stressed the importance of remaining optimistic. "It’s not the end of the journey," he said. "It’s not your fault, make sure you realise that. You haven’t been fired."

Dale echoed the sentiment, having been made redundant once on "the wrong side of 40" and again on "the wrong side of 50".

Regarding the current climate’s "crazy amount of layoffs", Matsumoto added: "2023 was a really rough year for back-to-back layoffs. Looking at the market this year, it’s continued to start off really rough."

"The purpose of a company isn’t to provide endless stress-free employment," reminded Pöntiskoski. " Ten years ago I had to admit to myself that my own first startup was going nowhere. I didn’t have a team, didn’t have money. It felt the same as losing a job but maybe worse because it was all my fault as founder and CEO."

New Game Plus

The panel proceeded to advise on what to do after being laid off, and how the market as a whole looks in 2024. "It’s been really interesting to see the impact the big tech companies are having on the earlier-stage companies," said Matsumoto.

She noted the excitement from the perspective of many startup game makers looking to hire, as there’s plenty of talent from bigger companies that have been let go and are searching for work. However, many of these job seekers "have come from tech companies that can afford better packages".

At the same time, those looking for new employment should feel "no shame in taking a pay cut or title cut" if need be, suggesting they can work their way back up.

On the contrary, Leishman said: "Don’t lowball yourself. Use your experience to aim for something more." And, going on to advise on the interview progress for a new job, he suggested: "Always make sure you know about the company and the games they’ve made. Play the games as well, if they’re free. Make sure you have some questions ready for the end of the interview. And everyone should have a portfolio."

Dale noted the value of seeking a role with a smaller business if job security is key. "In a large corporation the degree of control you have is minimal. How essential are you as a cog in a big machine?" he asked. "In a sense you’re more stable in a small business."

"Even a junior should be able to answer what impact they would have in an organisation. What are the three things you do well?" added Pöntiskoski. "Show on your resume that you can get things done, it doesn’t have to be from in the industry."

Finally, Dale advised two key ways of standing out in an interview: "If you come in with suggestions on how to improve something, whether it’s unrealistic or not, what matters is you’ve thought creatively about the game you want to work on," he began.

"And learn how to use the AI tools. It’s about making your work more productive. If you can also think about the work you’re doing from the marketing point of view, or branding, to have a multifaceted approach, that will be much more difficult for a machine to replicate."

There’s a lot more still to discover from PGC London 2024. Find out more about what's on and how you can be part of it here.

News Editor

Aaron is the News Editor at and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he's now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever putting words in the right order.