Well the normal development cycle at big game companies is like this.
Work hard, drive the people into the ground to create the game. Massive crunches, during the final days before everything that is critical is taken care of.
And as soon as the ratio of cost vs benefit comes in. There is the cycled axe.
And in this case it is said it's across a bunch of different departments.
Though the quoted text...
Markus Wilding, global public relations director for 2K, tells Kotaku is was about 20 people.
"I can confirm that Firaxis has realigned its development resources in order to streamline its development process, reduce costs and maximize the overall performance the studio," Wilding told Kotaku. "This will result in the elimination of approximately 20 positions. These reductions will not impact Firaxis' ability to create and deliver AAA titles, including its forthcoming Sid Meier's Civilization V and Sid Meier's Civilization Network for Facebook."
Meaning, they did the job and weren't needed as they are no longer core to the needs of the bottom line. And we fired them. We don't need 10 quality assurance testers, so they get the axe. And the art department, the low guys on the totem pole were let go, and so on.
It's par for the course at those game development companies.
Now the consolation prize is, I've not heard of anything like that for Stardock. They seem to just transition those folks back over to other projects. And maybe they do lay off some extra testers, but I think they've utilized the beta testers efficiently as an external testing force, that in turn has made their games much better, and the relationship from Company to Customer is just outstanding.
That said, I do hope those who've been let go find a good home, that hopefully is more stable in the long run.