An anonymous report coming out of Brighton, UK-based Black Rock Studios indicates that parent company Disney Interactive is going to conduct about 100 layoffs tomorrow, according to UK-based Eurogamer. The studio, who’s last title was Split/Second, have not had much to do since Disney shifted its priorities away from AAA title development.
According to the insider, a large portion of the studio hasn’t had anything to do since December, when Disney started making changes and firing people at other studios. Black Rock had been working on sequels to Pure and Split/Second when those games were cancelled. Since then, all proposals to Disney Interactive were rejected. There is still a team working on what Eurogamer’s source calls a “promising” game at the studio, and it is believed that there will be about 40 people left when the layoffs are confirmed, brought into one game team.
When contacted by Eurogamer, Disney Interactive confirmed that there would be layoffs at the studio, and that the remaining team would continue to work on their current project.
Analysis: I have a pretty good feeling that those that are let go knew this was coming. When your parent company can’t find you anything to do for five months, which is when they let go of 700 other people, you start updating your CV.
I still maintain that Disney’s change of focus is a short-sighted mistake. They’re chasing things the ideal of social gaming, not because it works, but because they think that’s where the money is at the moment. It’s like one of these CEOs saying “EVERYONE IS GOING DIGITAL. WE MUST GO DIGITAL AS WELL.” What’s going to hurt Disney the most is that the platform that they’re looking to do the most damage – Facebook – is owned by another corporation that has a very bad habit of changing their rules on the fly. That’s find to do with small-market developers, because what are they going to say? They can be shut down at the turn of a switch. That doesn’t fly with Disney or companies that size, so Disney utterly scrapping their AAA development, and the workers and executives that were responsible for some very good games, has a good chance of biting them in the butt.