Report: Omgpop shut downs as part of Zynga’s restructuring

Omgpop logoAs part yesterday’s staff purging at Zynga, which saw 520 employees lose their jobs, in other words 18 percent of its staff, Zynga shut down Draw Something developer Omgpop’s office, according to a report from The Verge.

Along with the layoffs, Zynga shut down its Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York offices. But, Zynga New York does include Omgpop, and now former Omgpop employees are making it public on Twitter that they are out of jobs. (more…)

Zynga lays off 18 percent of its employees, shuts down 3 offices

Zynga lgoZynga today let go 18 percent of its employees (approximately 520 people) after shutting down its Los Angeles, Dallas and New York City studios. The studios that were shut down was first reported by AllThingsD. A small portion of the 18 percent were let go from Zynga’s Los Angeles office, which saw 55 employees losing their jobs, according to a tweet from an artist at the Los Angeles studio. Empires & Allies, the first game for Facebook from the Los Angeles studio, will be shut down on June 17.The layoffs and cost cuts will be completed by August.

According to a release from Zynga, the move will result in an estimated $70 million to $80 million in pre-tax annualized cash expense savings.Zynga revenue slide Q1 2013 earnings report

In February, Zynga closed it’s Baltimore studio as well as relocated its Mckinney, Texas and downtown Austin offices to its Dallas and North Austin Offices. The New York City offices saw consolidation as well, with the staff moving to the New York City mobile studio before being completely shut down today. In October 2012, Zynga laid off more than 100 employees, axing employees from its Chicago office, while completely closing down its Boston office. (more…)

Zynga closes Baltimore studio, consolidates Texas, New York offices

Zynga-Logo

Zynga’s Chief Operating Officer David Ko issued a statement today announcing that the social gaming giant is closing its Baltimore studio.

Zynga is also closing its McKinney, Texas and downtown Austin offices but these teams will relocate to Zynga’s Dallas and North Austin offices.

Zynga’s New York City offices will be consolidated as well, with the staff relocated to the New York City mobile studio.

The total amount of employees that were let go is not clear at this time but Ko’s statement claims that overall the layoffs will affect approximately 1 percent of Zynga’s workforce.

As we’ve recently reported, Brian Reynolds who headed the Baltimore studio, left Zynga in late January.  Reynolds and the Baltimore team worked on games like FrontierVille and CityVille 2.

The closing of the Baltimore team follows Zynga’s recent decision to shut down CityVille 2. As Zynga CFO Mark Vranesh said earlier this month during the company’s earnings call: “CityVille 2 missed our expectations despite pushing the envelope in 3D gaming and both The Friend Game and Party Place failed to achieve the mass market appeal Zynga franchise are known for.”

We last heard of large-scale layoffs at Zynga back in late October, when the company let let more than 100 employees go from its Austin office.

[Update] Exclusive: Ubisoft cancels Ghost Recon Commander, layoffs hit Loot Drop

Update: Ubisoft has confirmed the Ghost Recon Commander’s cancelation. “Ghost Recon Commander will unfortunately be discontinued because the game play mechanics did not resonate with the core gamer audience.  For our Ghost Recon fans, we will continue to operate Ghost Recon Commander from now until the end of the calendar year with monetization removed.  This decision does not reflect a change of strategy for any of Ubisoft’s other social games currently in development or operation.”

Original article is below.

We’ve learned Ubisoft canceled its Ghost Recon’s social game franchise Ghost Recon Commander, forcing developer Loot Drop to let go of the game’s development team. Loot Drop co-founder Brenda Romero (formerly Brenda Brathwaite) confirmed this with us moments ago.

This is a major shift from what we were told at Ubisoft’s Digital Day in August, when VP of Digital Publishing Chris Early told us the game was actually going to be ported to iPad and that the publisher was happy with the updates Loot Drop had implemented into the game since it launched.

At the moment, the game still loads on Facebook and its official app page doesn’t have any notice about the game’s impending shutdown.

We’ve reached out to Ubisoft and will update the story when we receive a response. (more…)

120 employees let go from Bigpoint, CEO resigns [Update]

Free-to-play MMO developer Bigpoint has just laid off 120 people and CEO Heiko Hubertz is stepping down from his position.

According to the article, the company has let go 80 people from its headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, and 40 people from the San Francisco office it established in 2010. Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Hubertz said developing games in the United States “is not really the most efficient way for us at the moment” between the lack of successful games the company’s developed and the competitive market created by the Bay Area. Back in August, the company dismissed almost 30 people as it scaled back on its mobile development efforts.

According to Hubertz, Bigpoint’s revenues have doubled year-over-year and the company’s been hiring based on expected growth, which it hasn’t seen this year. As a result, the company’s cutting employees mostly from within its administrative ranks and claims that none of its current games in development will see any effects from the layoffs.

Hubertz is going to transition to the company’s advisory board as an executive chairmen sometime before the year ends, but tells GamesIndustry his departure as CEO isn’t related to the layoffs in any way.

We’ve reached out to Bigpoint for further details about the layoffs and how its San Francisco office will be effected. If we receive a response, we’ll update this article.

Update: Inquiring about the state of the San Francisco office, we’re told by a company spokesperson it still has a healthy population: “The San Francisco office remains the strongest international office outside of our headquarters in Hamburg, Germany; our office will focus on the strength of our distribution network and partnerships – with business units in Business Development and Marketing here.”

Zynga lets 100+ employees go, closes Boston studio and contemplating more closures

Zynga has reportedly let over 100 employees go from its Austin office, according to rumors on the web.

The story broke by Justin Maxwell on Twitter, who learned about the events from a friend who was dismissed. Details are sketchy right now, but those who were let go were apparently on The Ville and Zynga Bingo teams. We’ve reached out to Zynga and are awaiting a response.

The Austin office was the studio behind The Ville, the social game currently serving as the eye of a particularly nasty legal storm between Zynga and Electronic Arts. Since the game launched in June its initial traffic surge has quickly fallen off, losing approximately 45 percent of its users each month.

Update #1: Gamasutra is reporting it can confirm the 100+ layoffs, as well as more rumors that Zynga shut down its offices in both Chicago and Boston. We’re still waiting a response from the company itself.

Update #2: TechCrunch has confirmed Zynga Boston is closed down, as well as the earlier reported layoffs over at Chicago. The sit also reports The Ville is being transferred over to the company’s India office, which is where it sends games that have been sunsetted.

Update #3: Zynga has confirmed the layoffs, as well as the sunsetting of 13 unspecified older games, including “significantly reducing our investment in The Ville.” Zynga is also considering closing its Japan and UK studios. The total number of staff currently dismissed is less than 5 percent of Zynga’s total workforce. Below is the letter CEO Mark Pincus sent to Zynga employees today.

Team,

Earlier today we initiated a number of changes to streamline our operations, focus our resources on our most strategic opportunities, and invest in our future. We waited to share this news with all of you until we had first spoken with the groups impacted.

As part of these changes, we’ve had to make some tough decisions around products, teams and people.  I want to fill you in on what’s happened and address any concerns you may have.

Here are the most important details.

We are sunsetting 13 older games and we’re also significantly reducing our investment in The Ville.

We are closing the Zynga Boston studio and proposing closures of the Zynga Japan and UK studios.  Additionally, we are reducing staffing levels in our Austin studio.  All of these represent terrific entrepreneurial teams, which make this decision so difficult.

In addition to these studios, we are also making a small number of partner team reductions.

In all, we will unfortunately be parting ways with approximately 5% of our full time workforce.  We don’t take these decisions lightly as we recognize the impact to our colleagues and friends who have been on this journey with us.  We appreciate their amazing contributions and will miss them.

This is the most painful part of an overall cost reduction plan that also includes significant cuts in spending on data hosting, advertising and outside services, primarily contractors.

These reductions, along with our ongoing efforts to implement more stringent budget and resource allocation around new games and partner projects, will improve our profitability and allow us to reinvest in great games and our Zynga network on web and mobile.

Zynga made social gaming and play a worldwide phenomenon, and we remain the industry leader.  Our success has come from our dedication to a simple and powerful proposition – that play is not just something people do to pass time, it’s a core need for every person and culture.

We will all be discussing these difficult changes more with our teams and as a company.  Tomorrow, Dave and I will be hosting a post-earnings webcast (details to follow) and next week we will be discussing our broader vision and strategy during our quarterly all-hands meeting.  I’m confident this puts us on the right path to deliver on the promise of social gaming and make Zynga into an internet treasure.

If you have any immediate questions, I hope you will talk directly with your manager, Colleen, or me.

I look forward to talking with you tomorrow.

Mark

Idle Games layoffs ensue after developer increases focus on casino games

Social game developer Idle Games has let 25 employees go, Inside Social Games can confirm.

We first heard rumors about the layoffs yesterday, Idle Games Founder and CEO Jeffy Hyman confirmed them over the phone. Hyman said there are still 40 employees working at the company, including its founding members and senior engineers. Those displaced were from the team working on the company’s massively multiplayer Facebook game Idle Worship.

When we reviewed Idle Worship in April we noted the game implemented a number of innovative mechanics and had some stunning production values, but also had some technical and pacing issues. Five weeks after its launch, Idle Worship had 30,000 daily active users; now it has 10,000.

Hyman tells us the game is seeing an average revenue per daily user of $0.12 to $0.13 and average play sessions of approximately an hour, but that the game had trouble finding an audience on Facebook. “You either needed medication because you loved it so much or you just didn’t play it,” he says. “There was no happy medium.”

Correction: We originally reported the average revenue per user was $0.12 to $0.13. This should have been identified as average revenue per daily user.

Following the layoffs, Idle Worship now pays for itself and the game will continue to be supported. Hyman says Idle Worship may be brought over to another platform like tablets or the open web for a subscription fee in the future, but the studio is currently focused on its new poker title Fresh Deck Poker and future social casino titles. Fresh Deck Poker is currently playable on Facebook but isn’t going to officially launch until early October. However, the company is already advertising the game in Southeast Asia. Fresh Deck Poker currently has 20,000 daily active users and will probably see significant growth when Idle Games officially launches it on the social network, allowing cross-platform gameplay and real-money prizes.

Even though Idle Worship received a lot of positive press at the time of its launch and is currently nominated for a GDC Online Award (under the “Online Innovation” category), Hyman explains these things didn’t make the game profitable. “There’s a good life lesson there that you don’t need to innovate on every single vector,” he says. “In order to be successful you don’t want the press, reviews and accolades. You want bucket loads of money.”

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