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Red 5 confirms lay-offs, but all may not be as it seems

Thursday, 28th January 2010 03:49 GMT By Nathan Grayson

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Yesterday, we reported that Red 5 Studios had cast a number of its employees back into the choppy seas of unemployment, and today, the developer released a statement that more or less amounts to “Yeah, we laid-off some people, but look! There’s a butterfly – over there, right behind that giant stack of normalcy and never-been-better!”

According to Kotaku‘s ever-useful sources, however, something’s amiss.

“Red 5 Studios, Inc. is currently working on an unannounced massively multiplayer online game. Recently, the team formed around a new direction and took on additional investment from a strategic partner in the online games industry,” reads a statement on the developer’s website.

“Red 5 remains committed to releasing a AAA quality, online title targeted for a worldwide release. The company has restructured the team in order to accomplish this goal. As part of the restructuring, some team members chose to part ways while others were let go. Red 5 has great respect for these departing team members and the contributions they have made.”

So, from the looks of things, that “unannounced MMO” that was thought to have been tossed into cold storage is still in the works. Probably.

But what’s this “new direction” business all about? Well, that’s where those “sources” from earlier enter the picture. Apparently, Chinese online gaming behemoth The9 is now majority shareholder in Red 5, so it’s saying “jump,” and Red 5′s asking if it should tighten up the graphics on level three. That new title we reported on yesterday that’s tailored to the Chinese market? Probably has something to do with this.

To top it all off, former CEO Mark Kern is allegedly calling the whole thing the “new” Red 5, which is pretty telling. He’s also calling himself the “new” Mark Kern, which is, if we’re being honest, kind of strange.

It’s all very fishy, if you ask us. But it also makes for great reading, and there’s tons more of it through the link.

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