Some Updates From LightBox on Studio's Future

Posted by patrickklepek (3471 posts) -
Starhawk development will continue, even though Sony will no longer be paying for it.

Starhawk developer LightBox Interactive hit a major roadbump this week, with the company’s relationship with Sony coming to a close. The studio was then forced to lay off 24 employees.

There were 32 employees at LightBox, but the layoffs will bring that number down to a “core team” of eight, according to LightBox president Dylan Jobe.

Jobe announced the studio would be focusing on iOS development going forward, but would not elaborate on the game itself.

“I could, but I think that'd be inappropriate,” said Jobe in an email. “Right now I'm focusing on making sure the team members I'm laying-off are as prepared as possible to find good jobs. There will be a time for PR on our iOS game--but now is not that time.”

The 24 impacted employees, whose last day is today, have all been offered severance packages.

As Starhawk is an active multiplayer-focused game, players of Starhawk might be hoping LightBox would be contracted to continue support for it, but that’s not the case. Jobe has a solution for the nearterm, though.

“There are some updates that I still want to deploy for our fans around the world so I'll just be ‘eating’ that cost,” he said.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (3471 posts) -
Starhawk development will continue, even though Sony will no longer be paying for it.

Starhawk developer LightBox Interactive hit a major roadbump this week, with the company’s relationship with Sony coming to a close. The studio was then forced to lay off 24 employees.

There were 32 employees at LightBox, but the layoffs will bring that number down to a “core team” of eight, according to LightBox president Dylan Jobe.

Jobe announced the studio would be focusing on iOS development going forward, but would not elaborate on the game itself.

“I could, but I think that'd be inappropriate,” said Jobe in an email. “Right now I'm focusing on making sure the team members I'm laying-off are as prepared as possible to find good jobs. There will be a time for PR on our iOS game--but now is not that time.”

The 24 impacted employees, whose last day is today, have all been offered severance packages.

As Starhawk is an active multiplayer-focused game, players of Starhawk might be hoping LightBox would be contracted to continue support for it, but that’s not the case. Jobe has a solution for the nearterm, though.

“There are some updates that I still want to deploy for our fans around the world so I'll just be ‘eating’ that cost,” he said.

Staff
#2 Posted by ArtelinaRose (1838 posts) -

This is really sad to read. It's never good when such a talented studio is forced to make some very painful decisions.

#3 Posted by walterbennet (152 posts) -

Sad to hear. This industry sure is changing...

#4 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

So sad :( Starhawk was a cool game.

#5 Posted by Cozmicaztaway (216 posts) -

24 employees sounded bad, but 75% of the company!? Damn, hope they find jobs and Lightbox pulls through

#6 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

@Cozmicaztaway said:

24 employees sounded bad, but 75% of the company!? Damn, hope they find jobs and Lightbox pulls through

Yeah, I didn't think there was 32 people. I thought it was a bigger studio.

I hope they do well in there future and the people losing their jobs find new ones ASAP.

#7 Posted by blacklab (1525 posts) -

I am very interested in Studio's Future. Will be it multiplatform?

#8 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2923 posts) -

This is a good reminder that not all games are made by 300 people, and that a 24 person layoff can be devastating.

In this case, Lightbox Interactive went from being a big-time, Sony-championed, PS3 developer of mechanically complex "hardcore" multiplayer games to... an 8-man iOS developer.

This isn't to say iOS devs are shit, but that the change in scale/style is, for lack of a better word, intense.

#9 Posted by iAmJohn (6108 posts) -

Man, that's fucked up. I really hope they pull through, but considering how ridiculously competitive the iOS market is, something tells me they probably won't. :(

#10 Posted by FUMN (84 posts) -

Now I feel bad for not buying Starhawk. I really dug Warhawk I just never got around to picking Starhawk up. :C

#11 Posted by jaks (244 posts) -

I don't know. I think if you choose to make an online only title that is downloadable only for PS3 only, you roll your dice with your financial future.

#12 Posted by RetroVirus (1457 posts) -

Starhawk is great fun in multiplayer, and I'm sad that Sony didn't give it the marketing it needed. Multiplayer games that are based around novel mechanics are few and far between, so hopefully it can keep a decent community in the years to come.

#13 Posted by BlackLagoon (1382 posts) -

@awesomeusername said:

Yeah, I didn't think there was 32 people. I thought it was a bigger studio.

Keep in mind that LightBox didn't do Starhawk alone though, a decent chunk of the Santa Monica Studio is dedicated to supporting external development and this was a joint project with them.

Online
#14 Posted by Krakn3Dfx (2485 posts) -

@RetroVirus said:

I'm sad that Sony didn't give it the marketing it needed.

I feel like this is Sony's problem over and over again with a lot of the great titles on the PS3.

#15 Posted by thatdutchguy (1271 posts) -
@jaks: ? you can buy starhawk in stores and it has a singleplayer campaign.... not a good one but still. 
#16 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

@BlackLagoon said:

@awesomeusername said:

Yeah, I didn't think there was 32 people. I thought it was a bigger studio.

Keep in mind that LightBox didn't do Starhawk alone though, a decent chunk of the Santa Monica Studio is dedicated to supporting external development and this was a joint project with them.

I know that. I just always think there's a ton of people working in studios.

#17 Posted by falling_fast (2186 posts) -

I'm not really interested in games like Starhawk, but it's always a shame when things like this happen. hope those people all find good jobs.

#18 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

@blacklab said:

I am very interested in Studio's Future. Will be it multiplatform?

iOS dude. Read the article next time?

@FUMN said:

Now I feel bad for not buying Starhawk. I really dug Warhawk I just never got around to picking Starhawk up. :C

YOU SUCK! I'm kidding. I never played Warhawk and wasn't really interested in Starhawk so yeah. It is an interesting game though. You know. With dropping bases and shooting heads.

#19 Posted by AmericanNinja (157 posts) -

iOS gaming. where gaming companies go to die. :(

#20 Posted by zeekthegeek (381 posts) -

Yah, I don't really see iOS as able to save a company - it's a meatgrinder right now and incredibly hard to get a game the needed attention on.

#21 Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@RetroVirus said:

Starhawk is great fun in multiplayer, and I'm sad that Sony didn't give it the marketing it needed.

When Starhawk was coming out, I couldn't walk into a store, open up a webpage, or open a gaming magazine without seeing ads plastered everywhere for it. I wouldn't say that they didn't give it the marketing it NEEDED, but rather that the marketing they gave it just didn't do any good.

With that said, it's always shitty to hear these stories, and it honestly seems like it is just happening way too often now. Honestly, it's the reason that the Kickstarter and self-funded indie revolution has been so exciting. It's interesting to point out that as we sit here today, the market of gaming is made up of more independent developers than major corporation-owned houses, and that number continues to rise. Eventually, we may be able to get away from so much corporate influence in gaming and move into a place where developers can make the games that they truly want to at all times.

#22 Posted by peritus (961 posts) -

Well atleast they lay off while they are still able to pay their employees, it's better to see this then another 38 studios situation.

#23 Posted by Trav (241 posts) -

This is too bad. Interest in Starhawk tapered off extremely quickly. It seems like it had a warm reception and quickly disappeared. Personally, I can afford so few new games (none this year!) that I didn't pick it up.

That being said, it seemed like Starhawk wasn't the game people wanted, from what I heard. I had expected, or at least hoped, for a large map with seamless transition from ground to space warfare. The base drops they included were certainly interesting, but not as compelling as the potential I had hoped for. Good luck to all of those laid off, that's a hard row.

#24 Posted by 014 (347 posts) -

Man, I'm tired of the shift to cell phone / tablet gaming. IMO, it's a craze that feels new but it's actually backwards. Isn't it? The new game medium is uber expensive, multifunctional devices that have weak controls and performance. The phone I carry around is $600 MSRP. That's a pretty serious console bundle! And people complain about the Vita price. Heh.

I just spent $400 to upgrade my computer. I hope great games that require some horsepower continue to come out. Though it's sad to see game studios get smaller or close, I think the market is over saturated. Games don't seem to perform financially well enough unless they sell millions. Well, the same group of people can't buy every good game that's released anymore like they used to ten years ago. How many must-have games were released per year back then? Three? There are now too many really good games. I should slap myself for saying that, but I think that's how it is.

#25 Posted by JuggaloAcidman (272 posts) -

I disliked the multiplayer in StarHawk. Great on paper but in practice not so much.

#26 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

This wasn't a downsizing in terms of "we can't afford our next thing," it was a downsizing in terms of "we want to self-fund an iOS game and we can afford to do that if we lay off 75% of the company."

Basically, their original press statement seemed really rather confident. Hard to feel bad for the 8 left at Lightbox, here's hoping they make something cool for iOS and their ex-colleagues find work.

#27 Posted by Enigma777 (6057 posts) -

Pretty amazing that Starhawk was made by only 32 people. I hope they all land on their feet!

#28 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

I wanted to like star hawk since I liked the original warhawk so much, but ultimately the incredibly loose controls killed it for me. It wasn't any run to sloppily worm my way around the environments.

#29 Edited by thatdutchguy (1271 posts) -

i kinda regret buying   this game at full price... but it had some great moments online.

#30 Posted by Yodasdarkside (276 posts) -

Man, it just hit me that it was pretty cynical of Sony to drop the price of this and offer the single-player for free to Plus members, right before the developer was due to be let go. I wonder how many jumped on board and bought the multiplayer component, only for support to essentially stop 2 weeks later?

#31 Posted by BlackLagoon (1382 posts) -

@Yodasdarkside: SCE Santa Monica co-developed the game, and Sony has stated that they will be continuing to support it.

Online
#32 Posted by kwonstein (15 posts) -

Didn't realize the studio was only 32 people. Haven't played starhawk yet but it does look awesome, and I've really enjoyed Warhawk. I just wonder how this really happened. It's really just tragic. Jobe sounds really sincere tho and I hope the best for all the members who were at Lightbox.

#33 Posted by Palaeomerus (354 posts) -

I don't understand small dev teams renting a big fancy office in downtown Austin when they could probably work out of two portable buildings on any private vacant lot with parking nearby, and save a LOT of money to stay more stable.

#34 Posted by kittenmittns (10 posts) -

need to get starhawk

#35 Posted by DedBeet (271 posts) -

Can't believe they feel iOS development will save them. Wouldn't indie PC development be a safer bet?

#36 Posted by jasondesante (601 posts) -

come on guys, at least mention how the game is free on psn+.

#37 Posted by Corvak (901 posts) -

@DedBeet: iOS will save them faster. Hopefully they can recover and move back to bigger projects. A large scale multiplayer experience like Starhawk might work better on PC. More players, bigger maps, dedicated servers, etc.

#38 Posted by DedBeet (271 posts) -

@Corvak said:

@DedBeet: iOS will save them faster. Hopefully they can recover and move back to bigger projects. A large scale multiplayer experience like Starhawk might work better on PC. More players, bigger maps, dedicated servers, etc.

There's no guarantee of them being able to make money on either platform, though I still believe PC is a safer bet. There's been articles lately (latest i've seen has been on PA Report) where even a push by Apple is not enough to make a game financially successful on iOS, and the app store is your only conduit to Apple devices. With PC, there's several ways they could get their product noticed and picked up by consumers.

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