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NaturalMotion hit by Zynga layoffs - Report

Oxford-based QA testers made redundant as NaturalMotion looks to outsource some of its jobs

Last week, Zynga revealed that it's cutting 18 percent of its global workforce, or around 364 people, in an effort to control costs. According to a report from our sister site Eurogamer, developer NaturalMotion, which Zynga purchased back in January 2014 for over a half billion dollars, is cutting its Oxford-based quality assurance department as part of the overall Zynga workforce reduction.

NaturalMotion founder Torsten Reil informed his staff about the decision last week. Apparently, NaturalMotion is looking to outsource more of its QA duties on live games in order to have more flexibility to ramp up or down quickly on staff levels. The remaining QA staff will still be working on NaturalMotion's recently soft-launched Dawn of Titans and the upcoming CSR Racing 2.

When asked about the NaturalMotion layoffs, Zynga declined to comment but pointed to the previous statement on the overall cuts by CEO Mark Pincus. At the time, Pincus remarked, "For our people, we need to create an empowered, entrepreneurial culture that fosters more creativity and innovation. Over the years we've seen that tighter, more nimble teams can drive faster innovation and deliver more player value. As a result, today we announced a cost reduction program to focus, simplify and align us against our most promising opportunities. We expect these cost reductions to generate $100m in annualised savings... This was a hard but necessary decision and I believe this plan puts us in the best long term position for success."

Zynga has been struggling for some time as it transitions more fully from Facebook games to mobile games. With Don Mattrick stepping down and Mark Pincus reassuming the leadership role, some remain skeptical of Zynga's plan. And the new round of cuts at Zynga could be cause for concern with some. One source close to NaturalMotion commented that outsourcing more of the QA could harm the quality of the company's live games, and the source expressed frustration that redundancies were taking place at a studio like NaturalMotion that had been doing well financially, unlike Zynga as a whole.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that NaturalMotion was cutting 20 people across its QA force but this was inaccurate as the layoffs only affect the Oxford-based department. Apologies for this error.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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