Midway Austin hit by layoffs, game cancellation

Citing need to "optimize product development resources," cash-strapped publisher shuts down mystery project, pink-slips 90-130 staffers; two new IPs still in the works.

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Last week, several high-profile members of Midway Games' management staff departed, including Chicago studio chief Mike Bilder and media relations director Reilly Brennan. Today, the publisher announced further staff reductions at its Austin studio, which developed Area 51 (2005) and BlackSite: Area 51. Prior to its 2004 purchase by Midway, the shop developed 2002's Tribes Aerial Assault for Sierra Entertainment.

In a statement, Midway announced that "it has canceled an as-yet-unannounced project in production in its Austin, Texas, facility, and as a result Midway will have a reduction in force of a portion of the affected development team." According to the company, some 90 to 130 positions will be eliminated, although two teams will continue work on "unnamed prototype projects intended to expand Midway's portfolio of new intellectual property."

"While this was a very difficult decision, we feel it was the right thing to do for the future of Midway," said Matt Booty, Midway's interim CEO and president. "We view every game as an investment that must meet certain standards for quality, scheduling, and profitability."

The Midway Austin closures come one week after it reported disheartening results for its second fiscal quarter, which ended on June 30. The three-month period saw its losses more than double to $34.8 million, thanks to a release schedule with just one game, NBA Ballers: Chosen One (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360). During the current quarter, the company released the 360 edition of Unreal Tournament III in July, and will ship TNA Impact! next month. Its holiday lineup includes no-holds-barred football sim Blitz: The League II and the comic book/fighting game crossover Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

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