Starhawk was a game that got mostly positive reviews and seemed to be well received by consumers as well. However, the game unfortunately did not sell and most likely because of that the developer LightBox will be forced into layoffs. At first this was just a rumor started by George Broussard, famous game designer who worked on Duke Nukem who tweeted “Good luck to my buddies at LightBox in Austin. Layoffs and rumors of near whole studio gone by Friday”.
We can now confirm that the rumor was correct and that LightBox will indeed be laying people off, not the entire staff but a sizable portion of them will be let go. Here is the official statement from Sony on the matter:
“Sony Computer Entertainment can confirm that it has amicably ended its working agreement with developer LightBox Interactive, Inc. We have had a positive and long-standing working relationship with this talented studio, and wish them the best of success in their next endeavor. Starhawk and Warhawk will continue to be supported by Santa Monica Studio.”
And here is the official announcement from LightBox Interactive’s President, Dylan Jobe:
I am not shutting down LightBox Interactive but I did pre-emptively inform my staff that there were going to be lay-offs on Friday — 24 people to be exact.
Too often in our industry, people are “let-go” with no warning, no severance, no time at all to prepare their portfolios. It’s actually quite terrible. That’s NOT how we run things here at LightBox Interactive. The whole reason for me informing my team of lay-offs before they happen is so they have time to prepare. Collect stuff for their portfolios, capture screen shots or video — the stuff that helps people land on their feet. All 24 employees were also given a severance package.
Why the lay-offs? Well, as you know… the industry is changing. We are moving away from traditional console development to self-fund the development of our next game on Apple’s iOS devices.
Santa Monica Studio and Sony Computer Entertainment are fantastic people and great to work with. We have had, and will continue to have, a great relationship with everyone over there and I have no doubt that they’ll continue to bring the kick-ass games — and hardware — to gamers everywhere.
Unfortunately I think Jobe is right, many game developers are moving away from console releases because developing costs have skyrocketed this generation. One failed game can effectively destroy a game developer and force the studio to have major cut backs or close the studio entirely.
It is getting to the point where we are going to only have a few big name developers working on console games because it is not going to be worth it for small and medium sized studios to take the risk and work on triple-A console games. The scary thing is it will probably get even more expensive when the next generation of consoles roles around.