Business of Gaming: Closures, Layoffs and More THQ

By Dog of Thunder,
Today we're going to go over industry news that did not deserve their own articles but are still worth being discussed in a public forum. It's that awkward grey zone of news that matters, but is not all that exciting to most of the gaming community. Well, that would be why some smart person created the concept of a "round-up" news article, so let's get right down to business.

Codemasters lays off more staff, restructures core business

One of England's premier gaming studios, Codemasters, was forced to lay off more of its staff. The exact number was not released by Codemasters but this news comes alongside a notice from the company that they are beginning to discuss restructuring. This proposed restructure would affect the development of Grid 2, but whenever you hear of a company talk about restructuring, it typically means bad things for its financial health.

Despite the ups and downs Codemasters had in 2012, 2013 looks like it will be a good year financially for the company thanks to the aforementioned Grid 2. Codemasters made the choice last year, following the complete commerical and critical failure of Bodycount, to focus on only racing titles. The restructuring could very well be a way to streamline the company to better support their niche focus moving forward into 2013.

Disney shuts down Junction Point Studios

Junction Point Studios, the developer of Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two and the first, Wii-only Epic Mickey was shut down yesterday by Disney. This brings a tragic end to a studio that started out with so much promise as Junction Point Studios included the legendary Warran Spector, creator of the Thief and Deus Ex franchises. Spector, in his Facebook post, states that he does not know what his next adventure will be, but that yes, he will be back.

An additional 50 people were laid off from Disney's video games division on the same day that Junction Point Studios was shut down. This is in addition to Junction Point Studios, which makes for an impressive amount of cost-cutting in the wake of the Disney Infinity announcement.

I will note that Junction Point Studios is located in Austin, Texas. While that may not seem like an important factoid, we're going to talk about another Austin-based gaming studio, Vigil Games, as the two may have intertwining fates at this point.

Crytek Announces Crytek USA Studio

Crytek, the talented studio behind the Crysis franchise, announced the other day that they will be building a location in the United States called Crytek USA. This new studio will be based in Austin, Texas and the head of this studio? David Adams, the former co-owner and GM of Vigil Games, whom will likely be bringing over other Vigil Games' veterans. No plans were announced for this new studio though Crytek will soon be finishing up two titles in Crysis 3 and Homefront 2. More than likely, Crytek USA will jump directly into next-gen development once they settle into their new offices.

Grasshopper Manufacture Purchased By GungHo Online

In a short and sweet tidbit from the Japanese gaming industry, Grasshopper Manufacture, the studio behind Lollipop Chainsaw, Shadows of the Damned and upcoming Killer is Dead was purchased by GungHo Online, the company which provides hosting for Ragnarok Online. The deal seems to be a joining of forces that will help provide Grasshopper Manufacture with more financial freedom to continue their design and development of niche, off-beat titles.

THQ's Leftovers

Let's talk for a moment about the WWE license, which is widely reported on as going to Take-Two. That is all well and good, but when trying to research this news, all roads led me back to an IGN article on the subject. You can read the original article right here. Go ahead, take a moment, I can wait.

Back? Great!

Did you notice that there is no official announcement? There is no name attached to this information? Is it even true? Well, sure, it seems very likely and the sheer amount of chatter on this subject seems to indicate that it's true. Without details provided by those directly involved with the negotiation however, there isn't much that can be reported on with the WWE license. What happens to Yukes? Can we still expect a WWE title this Fall with the change-over? Who knows?

In a similar fashion, while Platinum Games expressed interest in the Darksiders IP, they have no interest in picking up Vigil Games. Nothing has officially been reported from either side of the Pacific Ocean regarding discussions between THQ and Platinum Games, which means there is no actual news to report on this front. Remember, until something is done involving the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware, all the tweets in the world mean nothing as plans can fall apart very easily when angry investors looking to recoup as much money as possible are involved in the process.

Oh, and before I forget, no one has mentioned Red Faction. It is getting to the point where I'm thinking of taking out a loan and buying the franchise.

That's your business news for the month of January. Here's hoping 2013 improves the financial outlook for the industry as a whole, and well, all signs point to another wave of consoles arriving soon, that could be the shot of adrenaline that the industry needs to re-enter a period of growth.