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Major Layoffs at Guitar Hero Live Developer After Game Underperforms - Report

UK studio FreeStyle Games to be "restructured" in an effort to "better align the studio resources with future business needs."


Guitar Hero Live developer FreeStyle Games will be restructured, with staffing "rebalanced," studio owner Activision confirmed on Friday. The UK-based developer "continues to be a great partner" for Activision, but the company is taking steps to "rebalance staff" after Guitar Hero Live came up short. According to Eurogamer, which cites a source familiar with the matter, around 50 people have been let go. According to the studio's website, the company previously employed more than 100 people.

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"Activision and FreeStyle Games leadership have been considering a range of future options for the studio, and have been consulting with staff to explore all alternatives," Activision said in a statement to MCV.

"The collective team have now reached the end of a consultation exercise and the decision has been made to restructure FreeStyle Games to better align the studio resources with future business needs," it added. "We are working with the studio teams to explore options to rebalance staff within Activision Blizzard and its related organizations."

Also in the statement, Activision said the UK market overall remains a "key" area of business for the company. "We thank all of the team for their continued passion, creativity, and commitment," it said.

Guitar Hero Live, as well as Skylander SuperChargers, "performed weaker than expected," Activision said as part of its latest earnings report. The publisher said the downturn for SuperChargers was largely the result of "greater competition" in the toys-to-life genre, presumably referencing Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions, and Nintendo's Amiibo. Activision also said SuperChargers and Guitar Hero Live struggled as a result of "the casual audience's shift to mobile devices."

Activision implemented a round of layoffs in February related to the underperformance of the latest Guitar Hero and Skylanders games.

"As announced on our earnings call, our games for core audiences did extremely well, but the casual audience has not yet emerged on next-gen consoles," an Activision spokesperson said at the time. "So we are refocusing to better align with Activision's long-term priorities because, as always, our strategy evolves to keep us ahead of a rapidly changing industry."

FreeStyle Games also created the DJ Hero franchise and worked on Call of Duty Online.

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