It was by all accounts a Black Tuesday for games development yesterday as job cuts were confirmed at two studios and one of the industry’s most respected developers faced up to a very uncertain future.
Though the numbers are yet to be reported, LucasArts has confirmed “a minor adjustment in staffing”. Gamasutra reckons that around 50 people have lost their jobs, with rumours suggesting that they were working on an unannounced project.
“LucasArts recently made a minor adjustment in staffing to help us better address the needs of the business,” a statement from the publisher explained.
“We remain committed to our internal studio – and to fostering relationships with trusted external partners – in order to deliver quality games that amaze and inspire fans.”
Meanwhile, Activision has also confirmed the closure of Budcat Creations, a team that recently worked on the Wii and PS2 versions of various Guitar Hero games. 88 positions have been lost as result.
“We continue to streamline our music development resources to ensure that they are aligned against our slate and strategic goals,” Activision admitted. “As a result, we are implementing a targeted reduction in jobs in our Quality Assurance team in California and closing our Budcat studio in Iowa.
“Budcat has been a great partner to Activision and has created a lasting impact on the Guitar Hero franchise. Approximately 88 positions, or approximately one per cent of our global workforce, will be impacted by these reductions.
“We are working to redirect those employees that are impacted to other parts of the company where possible, as well as offering them outplacement counselling services.”
Both of these announcements come as the future of UK studio Bizarre Creations remains hugely uncertain.
Though the studio has not, as has been first feared, been closed down Activision has admitted that it has put all staffers on 90 days notice and is looking to sell the company.
“Over the past three years since our purchase of Bizarre Creations, the fundamentals of the racing genre have changed significantly,” the publisher said. “Although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience.
“Bizarre is a very talented team of developers, however, because of the broader economic factors impacting the market, we are exploring our options regarding the future of the studio, including a potential sale of the business.”
What was a bad day for the development sector was not helped by the response of Activision blogger Dan Amrich, who lashed out at the media for its handling of the crisis.
“I guess it’s the difference between accepting reality or wallowing in the worst possible outcome,” he said on Twitter. He then claimed on his blog that the wider reaction had been “hysterical”, and that the confirmation of 90 days notice shouldn’t be interpreted negatively until the event.
“I am bracing myself for the worst, because it’ll be easier to take if it happens – but I am still sending positive vibes out in hopes that things will work out. At the very least, maybe things just get scaled back, which is what happened at Neversoft earlier this year. The studio had to let people go, but made the tough cuts and carried on. My fingers are crossed.”