Disney confirms lay-offs at Black Rock

Thursday, 5 May 2011 12:12 GMT By Staff

Disney Interactive has confirmed to VG247 that it has laid off an unspecified number of employees at Black Rock.

It told us, however, it will remain at work on an unannounced project.

“Disney Interactive Studios confirms a reduction of its workforce from its Brighton-based internal game development studio, Black Rock Studios. The studio will continue its work on its current project,” the company told us in a statement this afternoon.

Eurogamer first reported this morning that 40 jobs were at risk. Its now been said that those 40 jobs are actually safe, but a further 100 jobs are at risk. The report also claimed that Split/Second 2 was in pre-dev, but had been canned.

The lay-offs bring an ongoing streamlining process to a head.

“The inactive portion of the studio has been expecting redundancies for months, so this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s sad that it’s come to this of course, but for many people they’ll be quite happy to take the money and go, as they’ve been sitting around doing nothing for months,” EG’s source said.

The studios is said to be at work on a “promising” title, but despite assigning a “good proportion” of the existing employees to development, Disney apparently aren’t keen to commit a larger team to the “new and risky” endeavour.

Those not involved in the new project have been unable to convince the publisher to back a second new title.

“It seems Disney have been unable to provide us with a project to work on, and our concept pitches clearly haven’t gone down well (despite there being many of them),” the source commented.

“… We had a concept week (everyone in the studio working on small teams) to try to come up with new ideas, but nothing really stuck. We had a freemium week sometime later with similar goals too.”

“Split/Second 2″ seems like an obvious choice, but Disney didn’t agree.

“After Split/Second wrapped, we started work on Split/Second 2 pre-prod which was cancelled last December due to Disney Interactive’s new management and their changing priorities (the push towards freemium etc) – Split/Second 2 didn’t really fit in with that (despite some efforts to shoehorn it in).”

Black Rock is an experienced racing developer, having previously produced Pure and worked on the MotoGP series. Split/Second was its most recent release, in May 2010, and garnered near-universal critical approval for its over the top arcade stylings.

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