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View Full Version : 50 redundancies at Lionhead due to poor sales.


Simon
03-12-2006, 12:08 AM
Poor sales cost jobs at Lionhead

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41407000/jpg/_41407654_moly-honour203.jpg Molyneux received an OBE in 2004

Lionhead, the studio led by veteran games maker Peter Molyneux, is cutting about a fifth of its staff.

The games news site Next Generation said there would be 50 redundancies out of its current workforce of 250.

It follows poor sales of the latest games by Lionhead, Black and White 2 and The Movies. In a posting on a Lionhead forum, a spokesman said the company was now focusing on an existing title, as well as on a next generation game.



Its a real shame. These guys make great games and although they are outside of the box, i think Peter's stuff is genius. It just doesnt appeal as much as mindless shooters to the american market I guess.

-Simon

Edit: If you havnt played any lionhead games I suggest you go here order one on budget and you will know why this is so sad. http://www.lionhead.com/bw2/order.html

Lique
03-12-2006, 12:21 AM
I feel sorry for them. I never played b&w, wanted to try movie but never have the time to. People just play too much wow these days.

btw is there a link?

Trenox
03-12-2006, 12:23 AM
Thats a real shame. Could this be the beginning to the end of sandbox games? (those not appealing to girls that is :argh: ).

Its always nice that we have people like Molenoux to explore and innovate the medium, but i always feel that he is more interested in ideas that followes his grand concept rather than pure gameplay. That man simply cannot 'kill his darlings'.

Originality for the sake of originality isnt necessarily fun for the player - but mostly fun for the developer.

If i remember correctly they were only about 12 people working at lionhead for black and white 1 and they said they wanted to keep it at that level. It seems that he has been caught up in the 'production value machine', which is maybe a clue to him that he needs to scale down even further if he insists on doing these crazy ideas for games.

Hopefully he can get the Dungeon Keeper licence back and do a third game - That could maybe really sell ;) (i would definitely want to check it out)

Good luck to Lionhead in the future and keep it up!

leigh
03-12-2006, 12:23 AM
That's a shame to hear. I've always enjoyed Lionheads games.

Simon
03-12-2006, 12:31 AM
[UPDATE] Developer's headcount reportedly cut by 50, remaining staffers working on a pair of unannounced projects.

Barely two months into 2006, it's already shaping up to be an eventful year for Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios. Rumors surfaced in February that the development house was the subject of a heated bidding war (http://www.gamespot.com/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=24306151) between Ubisoft and Microsoft. At the same time, publisher Activision announced the cancellation (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6143873.html) of Lionhead's console versions of its PC game The Movies, citing disappointing sales of the game on its native platform as the reason. Now a Movies fan site is reporting that the developer is downsizing its operations and ending support for The Movies.

"We understand that Lionhead have had a company meeting today, where the decision was taken to downsize the company from three studios to just the two, which means the loss of approx 100 people," reads a news post on The Movies Planet (http://www.themoviesplanet.com/index.php).

An administrator on Lionhead's official forums (http://allboards.lionhead.com/showthread.php?p=1756720#post1756720) gave the following response:

"Over the last few months Lionhead has been working on plans for a new AAA world class game. As work on a number of its titles draws to a close, a pool of 100 super talented developers at Lionhead are available to create a new super team at Lionhead. This will be in addition to an existing team which is working on an amazing next generation title. This strategy was presented to Lionhead this morning in a company meeting but sadly it will mean some redundancies.

"We are still continuing our support of the Movies, with new downloads on the Propshop, an add-on disk in summer, and the announcement of the winner of the Chrysler competition at E3."

Lionhead posted a news story on its Web site (http://www.lionhead.com/news/) Tuesday advertising that the developer was now hiring, but as of press time, the developer's jobs page lists no current openings.

[UPDATE]: Trade site gamesindustry.biz (http://gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=15117) reports confirmation from Lionhead that the developer has laid off 50 staffers from its Surrey studios, bringing the company's total headcount down to 200. The site also says Molyneux informed his staff that only two titles would continue on in development at Lionhead.

link > http://www.gamespot.com/news/6145416.html


The games industry is becoming like a strange reflection of hollywood.

JDex
03-12-2006, 12:46 AM
Hmm, too bad.

I heard a lot of good things about B&W (the original), never played it though. I didn't know there was a sequel... though. I guess when you don't have time to play games, you don't pay much attention.

Sorry to hear about the layoffs.

rebo
03-12-2006, 01:34 AM
Sorry to hear about the redundances , having played most of Molyneux's games I just wish he would concentrate more on fun gameplay and less on high concept.

Syndicate was one of his best.

PhilOsirus
03-12-2006, 01:41 AM
It is not an innovation problem. Companies have had management issues which has resulted in monetary losses, but more games were sold in 2005 than in 2004.

1- The industry is very competitive and at the same time bigger each year, so more games are produced.
2- This means gamers have more choice than ever and can buy the maximum number of games they are willing to pay for, hence game sales were up.
3- At the same time companies have invested in the development of sure-sellers only to realize that everyone else had the same bright idea! Hence huge competition occured.
4- Those same companies, in a rush to beat the competition, had another great idea: "So our competitors were as smart as us? Let's hire more people to release more games earlier than the competition!". Everyone did the same. Excessive competition occured once more.

Yeah, gamers bought the games, moreso than the year before, but there's a limit to how many games a gamer can purchase in a month or two.

Hence if companies want to keep on producing a massive flood of games they need more gamers, but they will have to make different games as well because anyone who wants to play video games is already doing so. Of course the stupid executives will just outsource instead of making smaller specialized production teams and simpler games, until someone with the brains of a company like Apple realizes there are better smarter and simpler solutions.

salmonmoose
03-12-2006, 01:46 AM
This is really sad;

Ever since I first played populous on my good ol' Amiga500, I've loved Bullfrog, and then later Lionhead games.

With the possible exception of Hi-Octane, I'd love to revisit all of the old licences, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper, and the old faithful, Syndicate.

Their games have always been great value for money, offering hours upon hours of replayability.

For all you lionhead fans that are looking for something to look forward to, make sure you give 'Spore' a look :)

Frank Lake
03-12-2006, 02:34 AM
Thats a real shame. Could this be the beginning to the end of sandbox games? (those not appealing to girls that is :argh: ).

That's a good question, but I think Lionhead is suffering more from their critial flops the the genre running out. Both B&W's weren't the hits they needed to be, BW2 was nearly a flop. The Movies is the same way.

Now toss in the ugliness the MOO3 had visited on the genre and the lack of other similar games it's not surprising that people have moved away from it! Spore has made a good move to bring life to the genre by allowing players to share designs(hopefully via pier to pier). I firmly believe that the genre itself has gotten away from what made it fun and now is stuck with it's head in the clouds with idealisms instead of playability.

heavyness
03-12-2006, 04:38 AM
B&W2 might have been a mistake, didn't play it but people kept saying it wasn't as good as the first.

shame for The Movies... probably would of sold well if it has the Sims name on it or a Nintendo brand. sometimes the good games get over looked.

i'm sure the people let go will find great jobs [having Lionhead on your resume is pretty nice]. hopefully this cut back will insure the company stays around for some time.

pogonip
03-12-2006, 06:17 AM
Not my fault I bought all there games and pretty muched enjoyed all of them . None ever lived up to the hype but none were bad games IMHO . Ha , well EA has taught us that even when developers are having good sales the pink slips still fall like a bloody guillotine ! (http://www.google.com/search?q=guillotine&sa=N&revid=1203365455&qpos=0&oi=revisions_inline)

Laa-Yosh
03-12-2006, 12:07 PM
So are they going to announce anything about Dimitry?

Lone Deranger
03-12-2006, 03:28 PM
They have 250 staff?? :surprised What on earth were they all working on? Or is it just 1 next gen project they've got going? ;)

Must be Moulinex' new indoor pool costing more than he anticipated...

Simon
03-12-2006, 05:26 PM
Heres a (long) interview with Peter about the whole process..


Molyneux says Lionhead has restructured in order to reflect its desire to focus on fewer products at any one time. Instead of three games at once, the firm will focus on just two next generation titles. The first is thought likely to be a Fable game; the other is unknown. As we reported earlier this week, Lionhead has laid off around 50 people, from an overall tally of around 230.

Molyneux says neither Lionhead nor the game industry has figured out how to deal with the problem of 'ramp up'; in which large numbers of development people are employed as a project bears its end, only to find themselves with nothing to do in its aftermath.

The Hollywood model, in which groups of professionals come together to work on a movie, has been cited as one solution. But the game industry's dynamics are not the same as Hollywood's and this solution pitches as many problems as it resolves.

Here's what Molyneux had to say.

Tell us about the job cuts at Lionhead?

Weíve finished three games - Fable Lost Chapters, Black & White 2, and The Movies Ė and weíre going alpha on the relevant add on discs.

Of course, everybody here is saying 'what is coming next?' What weíre saying is that the next generation is all about focus. It's about keeping the talented people youíve got working on something that is going to be incredible, revolutionary and all the things that I always say when we're about to start another new game.

Lionhead needs to focus on two big, big titles, rather than on three titles and a number of smaller distractions. What that actually means is we're taking the people from The Movies studio and the Black & White studio and using those talented people to create a totally new studio to work on a totally new next generation concept that been mulled over by designers over the last few months.

That means weíre going to be taking over a lot of those people but it also means that some of those people will, unfortunately, have to lose their jobs.

That often happens at the end of a project. If you look at pretty much every studio in the world they have some redundancies at the end of a project or if they are a very large organization they move people around.

What I donít believe in doing, is to keep people on, to just keep them busy and just to keep them employed. I donít think that is fair on people.

How many people are we talking about?

There are 100 people who are being freed up by work coming to an end on Black & White and The Movies. Out of those 100 people we are creating another studio. We are keeping on more than half those people.

In the next generation, a lot more people need to be working on a project. For instance if you look at Fable 1 there was a high point of about 70-75 people working on it. Itís difficult at this point to say the precise number. A lot of people in the press have assumed itís about half. I donít know where that came from. It's definitely less.

Have the people who are losing their jobs been informed yet?

There is a process that we go through Ė a consultation period - that means that any of those 100 people can apply for any job within Lionhead. We then interview all those people. Everyone is treated absolutely fairly.

We interview all those people for the positions available and then when weíve interviewed everybody we make a decision based on certain criteria which are the best people for the positions.

At the end of the 30-day period everyone has been found a job or, sadly, some people are made redundant. This isnít a process invented by us, itís a formal legal process to go through Ė itís European law.


How will you make those decisions?

There two ways of looking at it. The first way is to look at someoneís CV [resume] and say 'they are the right person for the job'. But what Iíve found here in the past is that someone's 'fit' and their enthusiasm is just as important.

It isnít just about someoneís qualifications, past or length of service, itís more about the whole fit of this team together.

This must be a difficult time for you personally, and for the company?

This is not my most favorite thing to do in the world. But you can't stick your head in the sand and deny this sort of thing has to happen. We can't just keep people on if there isn't the work. I have to make the right decision for the company and the right thing for those people who are staying. It's also the right thing for those that are leaving, and for the careers in the long-term.

It's incredibly unpleasant but being a CEO is about making the right decisions for the company. On Friday I stood out in front of everyone and said that I passionately want to do the best for the future and go through the fairest process that is humanly possible. I would hope that if you spoke to anyone at Lionhead that they would come away saying that was true.

This isn't just about Lionhead though. It's an industry-wide problem...

Laying off people is one of the challenges that this industry has to solve. We have this thing that we call a 'ramp up'. A game is still started by a very small number of people, then that ramps up to a huge number of people and then what do you do with those people when it's finished?

You either let those people sit around at their desks staring at the wall, or give them some small project, or use those people for doing add-on discs and downloads.

We need a model like in Hollywood where you have groups of people who come together for a period of time to make a movie. But I donít think that quite works in some cases.

You might have artists or programmers on short-term contracts, but then you need them for sequels or add-ons. They are needed for consistency purposes so putting them on short-term contracts just doesnít work.

If you've got someone like a tester, it works more easily. But for higher skills it's difficult and, anyway, some people need the reliance that they are employed.

How much is this to do with poor sales of your games?

This isnít a financial decision. Iíve said that to everyone here this is not about how much money weíve got in the bank. Weíve got enough . Itís forced by the fact that we want to kick off a new project in the right way.

Of course, I wish all my games had sold to every person in the planet, but thatís not the reality. But weíve got hundreds and thousands of royalties coming from Black&White 2, and the Movies is still selling steadily. Iím hopeful it will be like Theme Park where the best sales are yet to come, especially with some more promotion. Fable Lost Chapters has done exceptionally well over in the States too.

I just want to be clear to people that this was done because weíre restructuring the way that weíre run and the way that we run next generation games. Our big passion is to create something unbelievable and original and are we going to do that. Thatís why weíre creating this new studio and why this has all been done.

So what's the future?

There are going to be two big studios here at Lionhead, one is working on something that you may or may not recognize [almost certainly that Fable game - Next Generation] the other is working on something completely new.

I canít tell you what the first studio is working on, but if you were an educated person you would probably be able to work it out. The other is new.

There isnít a dark side here. Weíre just facing the next generation. The story here is that the challenge for the next generation is massive. Far, far more then anyone anticipated.

yann22
03-13-2006, 10:54 AM
actually not only awful, but major gameplay elements were simply broken. The people in the press who hyped this game were either totally clueless mainstream journalists (think NYT),
had never played it or were part of some marketing deal.

It's never nice to hear that people are being made redundant, but Molyneux's hype machine in some cases amounted simply to false advertising. I love high concept but it has to work, after all it's all about the gameplay, no?

faultline
03-13-2006, 11:28 AM
actually not only awful, but major gameplay elements were simply broken. The people in the press who hyped this game were either totally clueless mainstream journalists (think NYT),
had never played it or were part of some marketing deal.

It's never nice to hear that people are being made redundant, but Molyneux's hype machine in some cases amounted simply to false advertising. I love high concept but it has to work, after all it's all about the gameplay, no?

I agree with this in its entirety. I purchased BnW2 and it simply doesnt work on my computer (6 month old specs). No amount of patching or driver fighting fixed the issue.

I followed Molyneux since early games with Bullfrog (Magic carpet, Syndicate etc) These games were amazing, and i loved BnW1. But i can hardly forgive after the abortion BnW2 is. Very sad indeed.

bluemagicuk
03-13-2006, 11:33 AM
I loved everything about black and white ... the gameplay was totally imersive and tonnes of fun, who remembers picking up villagers and tossing them into the ocean?? hah ah ahah or blowing them up with lightning ...... oooh so much fun sigh. Fair enough i didnt bother finishing the game but the 20 hours or so that i did play it were very memorable. I think i will pick up Black and white 2 this month to see whats new.

bluemagicuk
03-13-2006, 11:36 AM
I agree with this in its entirety. I purchased BnW2 and it simply doesnt work on my computer (6 month old specs). No amount of patching or driver fighting fixed the issue.
So you took it back and got your money back? .... no problem. Shame it didnt work for you but you can always get your cash back cant ya.

faultline
03-13-2006, 11:52 AM
So you took it back and got your money back? .... no problem. Shame it didnt work for you but you can always get your cash back cant ya.

No i cant, thanks to the wonderful US free trade agreements and current copyright laws. If the package is opened, stiff luck. I probably should have tried to offload it on ebay, but i hoped an upcoming patch would fix it.. seems to be a recurring issue with amd + gf 6800.. who knows... im not a happy camper though. buyer beware

bluemagicuk
03-13-2006, 04:56 PM
No i cant, thanks to the wonderful US free trade agreements and current copyright laws. If the package is opened, stiff luck. I probably should have tried to offload it on ebay, but i hoped an upcoming patch would fix it.. seems to be a recurring issue with amd + gf 6800.. who knows... im not a happy camper though. buyer beware

Sorry to hear that m8 that sucks ... there are a few stores here in the U.K that do that as well. Personalyl I would refuse to buy a game if the seller cant gaurantee a refund if there is problems with the game. 'Unless it was something like half life 2 (wince) sorry i am weak.'

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