Activision confirms Radical staff reduction, Luxoflux closure

[UPDATE] Publisher's "realigning [of] resources" sees Prototype staff culled, Transformers studio shuttered; Guitar Hero rumored to be taken from Neversoft.


[UPDATE 2] An Activision representative has confirmed the closure of Luxoflux for GameSpot.

[UPDATE] Unfortunately, it appears Radical isn't the only Activision studio getting its payroll trimmed. Game-blog Binge Gamer is reporting pink-slips have been handed out at Neversoft, the developer behind the most recent installments of the Guitar Hero franchise. An unspecified number of employees have reportedly already been laid off the studio, with at least one purported former staffer Tweeting his departure.

Vicarious Visions may soon be given the reins to Guitar Hero.
Vicarious Visions may soon be given the reins to Guitar Hero.

According to Binge Gamer's sources, Neversoft employees who are currently at work on the as-yet-unannounced Guitar Hero 6 will be laid off upon completion of the game. Further, the site reports the Guitar Hero franchise will reportedly be handed over to Vicarious Visions, the studio behind the Wii editions of Guitar Hero as well as Guitar Hero On Tour for the DS and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Activision had not responded to requests for additional comment concerning layoffs at Neversoft. However, the publisher did note in its initial statement that it intends to drastically scale back its output of Guitar Hero-branded games in 2010. As part of its year-end earnings report yesterday, Activision said that it would be cutting its rhythm game offerings to just two this year: DJ Hero 2 and, presumably, Guitar Hero 6.

The publisher also did not respond to reports that it had closed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen studio Luxoflux, initially reported by industry-news specialty site Gamasutra. Notably, Luxoflux developed the first two installments in Activision's undercover gangster drama True Crime. However, when Activision announced the third iteration in the series in December, the publisher said ModNation Racers developer United Front Games would be crafting the game.

[Original story below]

For the second time in 18 months, Radical Entertainment has been hit by a round of layoffs. An Activision representative would not confirm the number of affected employees for GameSpot but did say the Vancouver, British Columbia-based developer of games like Prototype and Scarface had its number of teams reduced in order to better match its resources with the titles in development.

Prototype is Radical's most recently released title.
Prototype is Radical's most recently released title.

Activision issued the following statement:

Activision Publishing continually evaluates its resources to ensure that they are properly matched against its product slate and strategic goals. In 2010, the company's SKU count will be smaller than in 2009 driven, in part, by a decrease in the number of music-based games we will be releasing.

As we discussed on our earnings conference call yesterday, we are directing our resources against the largest and most profitable business segments, and as part of this initiative, we are realigning our resources to better reflect our slate and the market opportunities. At the same time, we are increasing our digital/online capabilities as we expect that digital/online will continue to become a more meaningful part of our business model in the years ahead.

Radical's projects have not been officially announced, but last year, reports surfaced that the studio was working on a new Spider-Man game. Activision had previously confirmed that it was working on a game for the fourth Spider-Man movie, then set for launch in the summer of 2011. However, the status of that project is unclear given that preproduction conflicts have since pushed the film's release date back. Last May, the studio also was hiring Wii gameplay designers with "an affinity for third-person open-world camera design" for a port of an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game, prompting speculation of a Wii edition of Prototype.

The last layoffs at Radical came as a result of the merger between Activision and the studio's previous owner, Vivendi Games. At the time, The Vancouver Sun reported those cuts to include 100 employees of the studio, whose Prototype was one of only a handful of Vivendi projects that Activision held onto after the merger. The Crash Bandicoot series, another Radical-developed staple, was also retained.

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