THQ cuts staff at Rise of Nations publisher, still on the lookout for potential buyers.
Last month, THQ gave Rise of Nations developer Big Huge Games a heads-up. The publisher said it was looking to sell its wholly owned subsidiary and would close up shop entirely if a buyer could not be found in short order.
While the studio remains open and part of the THQ family, the publisher today confirmed that a number of Big Huge employees have been laid off. The layoffs were originally reported by trade site Develop. That account cited an anonymous source as saying that "a huge amount of layoffs" had taken place.
"We continue to pursue a sale of Big Huge Games," a THQ representative told GameSpot. "Yesterday, some of the staff were notified that they were not going to be part of the future direction of the studio. We are not providing exact headcounts at this time."
Big Huge Games was founded in 2000 by a quartet of PC strategy-game developers whose credits included Alpha Centauri, Civilization, Civilization II, and Gettysburg. The developer is best known for its work on Rise of Nations and the fantasy follow-up Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. More recently, the studio was responsible for the Xbox Live Arcade game Catan and has been developing an untitled role-playing game with Ken Rolston, lead designer on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. THQ acquired the company in January 2008.
It's telling that they're still "Rise of Nations developer" even though they've made more games. The reason, of course, is that none of the other games have been any good.
Gaming studios are closing down all the time. It's doesn't come as a surprise when most of them make sub-par games. I haven't played any of the games developed by Big Huge so I don't know if this is the case here though.
Man... I really enjoyed Rise of Nations. Kinda strange since the gaming sector is still holding strong.
i could imagine this happening "hey guess what? you're fired." "hahaha! good one boss. april fools!" "no seriously. get out."
nappan, I would guess hour, minute, second and fraction of second. No idea what he means with it though.
A loss for the video game industry pure and simple. As I've said before when this was announced: you'll get rid of this great developer but, you'll keep the arms that churn out crap based on movies and tv shows? something wrong with this picture.
It was a while since we had heard about layoffs and I was quite happy but i guess it's still an issue and though i don't think the recession will be fixed any time soon, i'm just hoping that we can get some progress towards fixing it.
*#*@#*@#!!!!!! Come on not BHG!! Can't the Madden team get laid off (yes, I know, not relevant)?! It's just like Dick Cheney being alive and George Carlin, John Belushi, etc... being dead. No justice at all.
@ Avenger1324 - in principle, I agree... however, do remember that it was a very different financial climate in Jan 2008 and pretty much no-one anticipated the size of the economic downturn to come. No business would deliberately waste money on such a thing, it's all down to many factors outside of their control. I hope BHG carry on though, they deserve to.
THQ really should have treated BHG better. They only bought them in Jan 2008, so at worst they should have been halfway through a project an allowed to finish it. Spending all that money to acquire a studio only to shut it down a year later without letting them develop a game seems an incredibly short sighted and money wasting decision.
It cannot help that BH games is working on a roleplaying game. Firstly they take a long time, secondly, just because of the beast they are, they usually are not bug free at release and need after sales support and thirdly, any RPG not from Bethesda or Bioware will get short-shrift from the media if it has the smallest problems. You only have to look at initial reviews of The Witcher and Two Worlds and recent review scores for Drakensang: The Dark Eye as opposed to the much better User Review scores. In other words, A) I don't see Big Huge Games surviving and B) I don't expect this RPG to ever see the light of day. And I am very sorry for both of my beliefs and hope I am wrong!
videogames are selling- what's THQ's problem? Sell more and make better games and maybe employees won't get laid off. The gaming industry is one of the few industries that's selling- this shouldn't be hapening, and it's more that likely mis-managment by the by THQ
@ SeanyBoy21: Well, they are a news site... if someone decides to release a serious piece of information, it is in their best interest to write a story about it as soon as possible. So, it was more of THQ's fault for releasing the info on April 1st than gamespot's for covering it.
with Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends this studio became one of my favorite developers in the business. I hope they manage to pull out, they've got some great talent in there. Ensemble Studios didn't really hit me since they were declining these past few years, but these guys we're at their best now. Sucks to see them hit a hard patch.
i bought catan. I know is is miniscule compared to what they have done before. Maybe they can make some more baord game adaptations to keep some jobs.
"I'd like to offer my sincere apologies to my employees here at Big Huge Games. Through these tough economic times, we are forced to discontinue the employment of many." "Haha, that's a good one boss! Happy April Fools to you too!.................Boss?"
I was hoping to read this and see an "April Fools' somewhere. Unfortunately, I think this is just the opposite.
So in just over a year of buying them, they are doing lay offs and trying to sell them off? Sounds like some pretty bad management there at THQ.
This sucks, but at least on the bright side, they're not shutting the doors. They were a sweet studio. Hopefully they come out with a huge hit or two and start hiring again (the role playing game from the guy who made Oblivion sounds promising)
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