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RockYou axes 50% of staff

By Matt Martin

Thu 03 Nov 2011 9:43am GMT / 5:43am EDT / 2:43am PDT

Social company sells Playdemic back to founders, cancels Loot Drop deals

Social games and media company RockYou is shedding around 50 per cent of staff, according to new reports.

As part of the move, the company will sell recent acquisition Playdemic back to its founders, states Tech Crunch, with the developer keeping its game Gourmet Ranch.

Manchester's Playdemic was only acquired at the start of this year, at a time when RockYou was pushing to become a name in social gaming.

However, senior games exec Jonathan Knight, who was brought on board to spearhead the games business and secured the Playdemic deal, left the company last month.

"We went too far down the creative path and lost our way in terms of being a profitable organisation," said CEO Lisa Marino. "While today is a tough day, I am incredibly bullish on the business going forward."

According to a leaked internal document reprinted on Venture Beat, RockYou is hoping to trim the team to stay profitable, cutting as many as 55 jobs.

"[G]oing forward we will need to be much more focused and lean in order to ensure we keep hitting these success milestones," it reads.

"Unfortunately, that means that over then next week or so the management team will need to make some very tough decisions that will result in an overall reduction of our workforce."

Speaking to Inside Social Games Marino confirmed it has cancelled its deal with Loot Drop, giving control of two games back to the development team founded by John Romero.

She also blamed the company's games for not delivering the right content and being difficult to monetise.

"We made a lot of mistakes in the last 12 months," she said. "We built up a central studio that looks a lot like EA or Zynga with 45 heads in it when we really only needed 10 or 12.

"We developed two large-scale sim games - Social Life and Cloudforest Expedition - and Social Life was [canceled] in May and Cloudforest is in the process of being kicked back to Loot Drop. Gourmet Ranch is profitable, but [the developer] is not building the core content that we want."

The company was founded in 2005 and has raised $129 million from investors.

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,292 456 0.4
"We went too far down the creative path and lost our way"

Does this half of the comment depress anyone else? Of couse it is a business, of course they need to be profitable, but in an artistic or entertainment business it's tragic that this is seen by some people as not being able to sit alongside being creative.

Posted:4 years ago


Georgina Bermingham Recruitment Consultant, Aardvark Swift

1 0 0.0
I was sad to hear the news about RockYou.

Having worked closely with the Playdemic team over the past 11 months it was shocking to hear about this turn of events particularly after a period of such growth.

I hope things pick up over the coming months and that those affected by redundancies find work soon.

Posted:4 years ago


Tom DuBois Digital, GameFly

4 6 1.5
Sounds like CEO needs to go

Posted:4 years ago

Pandemic will do well back with their founders. I know them well and they know what they are doing! Good luck guys!

Posted:4 years ago


Charlie Andre-Barrett European Digital Sales Manager, Bethesda Softworks

19 1 0.1
With you Mark , the founders are SMART and are on the Moores Law curve thats for sure ! Very best regards !

Posted:4 years ago

45 heads? that sure beats a conventional hydra....

Posted:4 years ago


Wolfgang Hamann Pres/CEO, Koolhaus Games

3 0 0.0
Sorry to hear about this as well. Seems this is almost a weekly occurrence. If anyone is looking to leave the turbulence of European development for a chart topping, stable, six year+, solid development studio in Vancouver, Canada, please check out for open positions. Thank you.

Posted:4 years ago


Francesco Genovese Recruitment Manager, Jagex Games Studio

3 0 0.0
Yet another sad news, sorry to hear about this guys.

Although there are lots of development companies facing financial problems in Europe, there are still a good number of Studios that can offer solid and stable career opportunities. Jagex is obviously one of them :-) We currently have something like 52 vacancies live so, if any of the affected staff would like to hear more about them, please get in touch ( or visit

Posted:4 years ago


Luke Managing Director

2 0 0.0
I agree with Mark and Charlie comments. Knowing the founders and the Playdemic team, they know what they are doing......

Posted:4 years ago


Henrique Olifiers Gamer-In-Chief, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios

13 9 0.7
We're hiring! If you believe social games can be as cool as console games and make people fall in love with what you create, come chat to us: & @bossastudios. ;]

Posted:4 years ago


Paul Trowe President & CEO, Replay Games

22 2 0.1
Poor JR....he just keeps getting the shaft.

Posted:4 years ago


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