Less than a year after it was founded, the Brisbane, Australian division of KMM that developed the video game adaption of Happy Feet 2 closed its doors on Friday, according to a Gamasutra report. According to Gamasutra, the company started laying off artists earlier this month. That was only the beginning of the end, as the company let go the remainder of its 40 employee strong workforce. Many of these newly-displaced workers came to KMM from nearby Krome Studios, which shut down last year.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Network, KMM Brisbane art director Jason Stark put the blame on the general decay of the Australian game industry, the strong Australian dollar, and a lack of tax breaks for local developers. He also noted that the low-to-medium budget for "middle-ground" games has declined in recent years.
"The writing has been on the wall for a long time," said Stark in an interview with ABC Online. "But it's maybe a little surprising the extent to which it has happened. We've all expected the industry to be shrinking — it's been bad times. It's gone from being a mild contraction to being pretty much obliterated."
Stark went on to say that finding a game development job in Australia is "virtually impossible." Given the high number of studio closures in the last year – Team Bondi, Krome, Visceral, THQ Australia and Bluetongue – that's not all that surprising. Stark plans to start his own studio soon.