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Microsoft lays off Lionhead employees

Microsoft lays off Lionhead employees

Tue 16 Oct 2012 2:00pm GMT / 10:00am EDT / 7:00am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

Number of staff affected to be less than 10% of workforce

Lionhead Studios

In 1987 Peter Molyneux founded Bullfrog Productions, along with his then partner Les Edgar in Guildford,...

lionhead.com

Microsoft has today let an undisclosed number of employees of its Lionhead studio go following the completion of latest title Fable: The Journey.

The company would not disclose exact numbers, but suggested that less than 10 per cent of the current workforce will be affected by the time the consultation process ends.

"There is a thoughtful and fair consultation process for all employees to ensure they have the best possible chance of finding a role inside Microsoft Studios," said the company in a statement to GamesIndustry International.

"We are working closely with the affected employees during this difficult time, and helping them to explore opportunities. We do not have an exact number to share but by the end of 2012 these reductions will account for less than 10 per cent of the overall headcount at Lionhead"

Kinect game Fable: The Journey was released last week and performed poorly in the UK charts only entering at number 37. Reviews of the title have been muted, with the game scoring an average Metacritic rating of 62 per cent.

"Following the completion of Fable: The Journey, Lionhead Studios has begun work on its next projects. As is common in the games industry, a smaller headcount is needed as projects kick-off and ramp up as full-production gets underway," continued Microsoft.

"At this time a small number of positions have been identified as at risk of redundancy and the affected employees were notified today. We are working very closely with those people during this difficult time, to help them explore alternative opportunities within Microsoft - including new roles at Microsoft Studios which is growing in the UK and actively hiring across all locations, including Lionhead, Rare, Soho Productions and our recently announced new studio in London."

Microsoft added that it hopes to add over 100 positions to its internal studios in between now and June 2013.

Last year co-founder of Lionhead, Peter Molyneux, left the studio but remained as creative consultant on Fable: The Journey.

14 Comments

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

281 815 2.9
The gamer in me wants to rant about the seemingly obvious outcome of dollars not inspiration dictating creative decision-making among artistically fruitful individuals, but the professional in me will probably regret it. So I'll leave it there.

My condolences to any who lost their jobs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 16th October 2012 3:31pm

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Popular Comment
"We are working closely with the affected employees during this difficult time, and helping them to explore opportunities. We do not have an exact number to share but by the end of 2012 these reductions will account for less than 10 per cent of the overall headcount at Lionhead"

No one has actually been laid off yet - but let that stop GI.biz from sticking an attention seeking headline up there. I swear, you lot are becoming worse and worse every week.

Here's to those of you affected finding other roles wtihin MS, if that's what you want.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
My condolences to any who lost their jobs.

That will be a few more mobile studios in Guildford then. Unless Jagex set up a recruiting office there again and move them all to Cambridge.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

281 815 2.9
Actually, Fran, it doesn't explicitly state anywhere that they will all be offered alternative positions, it just uses hedging language to give that impression.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Dan, I didn't say it did. But no one has actually been laid off yet, and I'm sure MS will actually do their best to offer people alternative roles if they're available.

In any event, good luck to those affected.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

281 815 2.9
Ah, my misunderstanding. Apologies.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

961 1,759 1.8
I'll say it then.

"Thanks for all your hard work finishing that off guys. Now f**k off,we can earn without you now".

Condolences to those getting spat out. Been there a lot and my only advice is to get together make your own stuff. Or work for a smaller company who might still give a shit about you.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 16th October 2012 8:36pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
"Following the completion of Fable: The Journey, Lionhead Studios has begun work on its next projects. As is common in the games industry, a smaller headcount is needed as projects kick-off and ramp up as full-production gets underway," continued Microsoft.
I am a bit confused by this, if you are scaling up for production with the knowledge that once it is done you will scale down, you would surely hire contractors. If you are making redundancies then that implies you are letting permanent staff go, seems like bad planning.

In any case, best of luck to those involved.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Andrew on 16th October 2012 11:34pm

Posted:2 years ago

#8
My condolences to a development team that worked hard and received the shaft at the end of that effort. Seems that MS wants short term employment with claimed long-term contracts! I am seriously concerned about in a down turn the development resource is seen as a disposable commodity - hocking them in to result based pay, then kicking them out before the results come in!

As PM seems to have been commenting on everything across the game scene - how about seeing him comment about this situation and the mess that seems to have embroiled Lionhead during and after his departure?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 17th October 2012 2:49am

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Gareth O'Neill Environment Artist (Contract), Ubisoft Reflections

30 23 0.8
Popular Comment
As is common in the games industry, a smaller headcount is needed as projects kick-off and ramp up as full-production gets underway," continued Microsoft.
Why does it have to be common?
as someone said earlier, "Thanks for all the hard work but don't let the door hit you on the way out."

I agree contractors are the people you want for scaling up and down they KNOW that they are short term (unless they impress so much they get offered permanent and want to take a permanent role) redundancies does imply full time staff.

if making full time staff redundant is a common thing how is anyone in the games industry meant to buy a house? have a family with children? who have friends and go to schools you sign up to, if your job is as secure as someone on a six-12 month contract?

You'd think by now all the "Geeks" making games in the bedroom that founded this industry would have grown up in to fully fledged Adults WITH families by now shifting their perspective on life to be more than staff are disposable as they are just like I was when i was younger playing games and eating pizza till 4am.

Note to games industry "we want to have Lives!"

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

173 113 0.7
Hey Fran, there's nothing attention seeking about the headline at all. The fact is Microsoft is letting Lionhead employees go, whether today or in two months. Let's not sugar coat it by blaming the natural lifecycle of product development or suggesting it's easy for staff to move to a new studio.

Posted:2 years ago

#11
I think the thing to consider is, unlike the movie industry how do folks in games cope with a 6-8 month contract type process which . I doubt if the process sits well to up sticks on a regular basis

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Matt, the headline's plain wrong - has anyone been laid off? No. I really don't see how you can argue with that, but let's agree to disagree.

Anyway, for those who may end up getting laid off, I do feel for them - we went through something similar when my wife worked at an animation studio in the midlands. Interestingly enough, we noticed last night that the former MD is going through a trial now where he's accused of stealing something like 16m from investors. There's bad management and plain wrong:)

Like I said, good luck to any affected. You'll come out the other side absolutely fine, however painful it seems at the time.

Posted:2 years ago

#13
@ Tom - for Lionhead, the question is how many of the overlapping projects have been greenlit for (viable) production. With the various pro tablet/kinect centric based MS strategy - I'm not sure if they potentially got caught out with a tried/tested title vs the more agile development of smaller yearly release of indie type games. In addition, its tricky to know if fable-itis has set in, with perhaps a opportune time to clean the slate, and start again with a totally new IP

Posted:2 years ago

#14

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