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Disney confirms lay-offs at Black Rock

Thursday, 5th 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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10 Comments

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  1. daytripper

    gutted. maybe sony or ms can see their talent and snap them up?

    all the best to those who will be made redundant

    #1 3 years ago
  2. El_MUERkO

    WRONGNESS!!! :(

    Split/Second rocked hard and deserved a sequel :(

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Bloodyghost

    Meh. Didn’t like Split/Second. It was good but it really only was a transforming interactive few racing curciuts.

    It was well done but people memorized the patterns, and eventually it was another get to the finish faster game via online.

    I always adored the concept of a ever transforming curcuit racer but if it isnt random then its predictable after the patterns become apparent.

    IF its never random, then your never on your feet like you are when you first play Split/Second.

    S/S is great but it was short fun.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. deathgaze

    This is a goddamn Greek tragedy if it’s true. I would have loved to have seen a better fleshed out Split/Second with more tracks, different types of Power Plays and better A.I. As it is, Disney just winds up looking like Fox – a spoiled child with an eye towards a trendy industry.

    Of course, I don’t know if I could necessarily blame them. Epic Mickey was no doubt an Epic Fail. And it also wouldn’t surprise me if Split/Second didn’t sell too well either. Disney Interactive doesn’t do too good of a job marketing the games they publish. It’s no wonder they’re shuddering studios.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. ultramega

    WHY, DISNEY, WHY!?!?! I LOVED THE FIRST SPLIT/SECOND, EVEN IF IT WAS A BUGGY MESS ON PC!

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Blerk

    A shame, for sure.

    It’s all gone terribly for pretty much that whole batch of little studios that got bought up by big players a few years back. Very few of them have actually gone on to any measure of success, and most are now being wound down and shuttered by the very companies that were supposed to give them financial security.

    Such a shame that a company that apparently has ‘loads’ of ideas can’t get any of them greenlit, even from a money-shitting behemoth like Disney.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. SplatteredHouse

    :’( whyohwhy can’t we have more nice things?!!

    I feel bad for Black Rock out of this, with a few nips and tucks S/S could have made it to a standout franchise. This is the same Disney Interactive that shut down the promising Pirates of the Caribbean game, Armada of the Damned, and did a lacklustre job with Turok – Maybe Freemium’s all they’re really good for.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Johnny Cullen

    I’ve updated it. Those 40 jobs thought to be at risk? Those are the ones safe. But its getting worse, it seems. Really am gutted for them if this pans out. :(

    #8 3 years ago
  9. The_Red

    Goddamit. I loved Split Second and was waiting for the second season that was teased at the end of it. Plus it’s always sad to see talented developers losing their jobs :(

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Blerk

    So basically:

    Disney decide to make games seriously.
    Disney buy a load of cool independent studios.
    Disney get said studios to make games seriously.
    Disney decides actually there’s loads more money in shitware with microtransactions.
    Disney cancels all aforementioned studios’ games.
    Disney shuts down all aforementioned studios.

    #10 3 years ago