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Gazillion sheds staff at NetDevil

Thu 24 Feb 2011 9:15am GMT / 4:15am EST / 1:15am PST
OnlineDevelopment

UPDATE: LEGO Group buys game and staff, before making lay-offs

UPDATE: Gazillion has clarified to GamesIndustry.biz that the LEGO Group has bought the rights to LEGO Universe as well as the "majority of staff" working on the project and the current offices from NetDevil, and has begun laying off a significant number of staff.

"The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group allows us to conclude the work-for-hire segment of NetDevil's business and lets us expand our internally-published, free-to-play game businesses based on our own properties and licensed properties," commented David Brevik, president and COO.

"Gazillion is wholly focused on developing, operating, and publishing the next generation of browser-delivered games. We're proud of the LEGO Universe game that our team built, and we are certain that it has a bright future."

Those members of staff remaining with NetDevil will continue to work on Fortune Online. The fate of another NetDevil project, Jumpgate: Evolution has not been discussed.

Original story:

Gazillion studio NetDevil is shedding a significant number of staff according to ex-team members.

Animator Toby Cochran detailed the moves on his blog, noting that members of the team were first alerted by posts on Facebook, and their positions officially axed by phone call later the same day.

"I personally think it's pretty terrible to find news out that way and not to be correctly notified. We all were receiving phone calls tonight and I just got mine about 2 hrs ago," he wrote.

"From what we've been told a handful of artists will be kept on board and continue working on Lego Universe. But at the moment that will be a very, VERY small team. As the count continues to rise on Facebook, they've cut over 20 people."

Gazillion Entertainment acquired NetDevil in 2008, and raised over $60 million last year, focused on building massively multiplayer games.

NetDevil recently released LEGO Universe and was working on the delayed Jumpgate: Evolution.

GamesIndustry.biz has contacted Gazillion for clarification.

18 Comments

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 429 0.6
So... does this mean no jumpgate?

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,234 394 0.3
Finding out you've lost your job via a Facebook post? The professionalism right there is staggering. Akin to your wife telling you she wants a divorce via a text message.

I was under the impression Lego Universe was doing ok, I assume that's not the case?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Aleksi Ranta
Product Manager - Hardware

271 126 0.5
Ive seen a glimpse of a release schedule for Jumpgate back in 2009 if my eyes didnt totally deceive me.
Seeing as its been delayed for so long I think a release is highly unlikely anytime soon.

Posted:3 years ago

#3
Lego Universe was killed by bugs but even more by its subscription model. Still sorry to see the NetDevil guys beeing dropped like that. Always liked them.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer

5 2 0.4
This is really too bad. My thoughts and prayers go out to those let go. I hope they find something new very quickly.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

949 166 0.2
Facebook firings? Seriously?

Posted:3 years ago

#6

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 429 0.6
I'm confused as to the actual Facebook firings issue. From his blog he just says that he found out a lot of people were fired through Facebook.... not that they were informed about the firing over facebook. He said they all received calls in the evening so i'm assuming that means the employer called everyone individually in the evening meaning that the earlier people who were called posted immediately on facebook.

If that's the case then it's no different from your friends calling you and asking if you're fired because they just received a call saying they were. I'm not sure i see the problem here.... unless you're of the opinion that it really makes a difference that you're told during work hours and all together in one place.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Matt Huertas
Associate Interface Designer

1 0 0.0
From a friend who works for them they lost maybe 30-40 people but there are still almost 100+ people at NetDevil and are all being brought in today for an all-day event. So don't think they're going to completely disappear like has been reported

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,234 394 0.3
It says they were alerted that their jobs were gone on Facebook, not that some people were losing their jobs, so if they'd seen colleagues posting that they had lost their job, that wouldn't have let them know they'd lost theirs. . It could have been an independent source on Facebook, but then that source should not have found out before the affected parties.

Posted:3 years ago

#9
From a friend who "worked" there he said

"I'm guessing around 30-40 as of right now. But you'd have to be really naive to not have seen this coming. People (including myself) were clearing their desks and shaking hands...And yeah, "electrical work".."

the reference to "electrical work" is that the company told all the employees to go home as there was "electrical work" being done in the building...then the company began phoning those let go after 1800 and those being kept that they had an off-site meeting today. Not a professional way to do it.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Sean Lynott
Recruiter

3 0 0.0
One of my friends worked there with her husband and was included in the layoff. I talked to her a little about it on LinkedIn and she didn't seem upset with how she was treated, just disappointed that she lost her job.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
"Electrical work?" I'm constantly amazed at the ability of this industry's unimaginative efforts to fire staff. Yes, fire. Not lay off, r.i.f., cut, reallign or other euphemisms currently in vogue. I remember a "thousand" years ago when Jimmy Ling of LTV decided to fire one of his VP's I had placed only to discover the employment agreement I had negotiated called for a year's salary if he did so. My applicant returned from his vacation only to find his desk had been moved to a very noisy manufacuring floor and his phone installed on a pillar. He lasted two weeks before resigning. The good old days. Sigh.............

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Krasimir Koichev
Producer

35 0 0.0
Well, once a game is done who needs developers and animators?
/sarcasm

Gazillion recently launched an open beta, so obviously not everything (and everyone) is going down the drain there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Krasimir Koichev on 24th February 2011 7:02pm

Posted:3 years ago

#13
Just updated the story: Lego Group bought Lego Universe and the staff that worked on the game from NetDevil. Lego Group then lays off majority of staff that worked on the game. Remaining NetDevil team working on Fortune Online. Fate of Jumpgate: Evolution not addressed.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Matt Hackett
Game Developer

49 2 0.0
They raised $60 million AND are having layoffs? Wuh?

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,234 394 0.3
So it wasn't Gazillion, it was the Lego Group?

Posted:3 years ago

#16

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 429 0.6
@Andrew: "It says they were alerted that their jobs were gone on Facebook, not that some people were losing their jobs, so if they'd seen colleagues posting that they had lost their job, that wouldn't have let them know they'd lost theirs."

His blog specifically says: "Unfortunately a lot of talented folks lost their jobs as I've been finding out on Facebook!"

That does *not* equal that they were informed they had lost their jobs over facebook.

The article above says: "noting that members of the team were first alerted by posts on Facebook,"

Again this does *not* equal they were told they had lost their jobs on facebook. Just that they saw people were losing their jobs and were "alerted" to the situation over Facebook.

Posted:3 years ago

#17

Toby Cochran
Character Animator

1 0 0.0
Hey guys! James is absolutely correct, man could you imagine if Gazillion actually fired us using Facebook?!

And Andrew, Gazillion let us go, LEGO had the hard choice of picking who to keep, so they brought back certain people. Like I said on my blog, it's really hard to see people with many years of experience that grew with Netdevil for so long.

As of yesterday my count on people let go was at 32.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Toby Cochran on 25th February 2011 6:06pm

Posted:3 years ago

#18

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