Man, I don't like being a downer, but the game industry hasn't been the happiest of places lately. There's been a lot of layoff news this week, and I'm not even covering all of it here. We can only hope that the start of the next hardware generation will lead to growth instead of the cutbacks and decline we've been seeing this year.
OnLive is Alive, Again
CheatCC's own Robert VerBruggen wrote a great overview of the OnLive situation earlier this week, but what interests us industry gossip-mongers is how the whole thing went down. About a week ago, game developer Brian Fargo (who doesn't work for OnLive, but apparently had friends there) Tweeted that he'd been informed of the impending demise of the cloud gaming service. Of course, news outlets picked up on the story, and journalists began frantically dialing their sources at OnLive.
After an interesting period of mixed messages about what was happening with the company, a full picture of the situation was pieced together as official company statements were released. It seems that about fifty percent of the staff was cut, and sadly these laid-off workers were offered no severance pay. OnLive then filed for bankruptcy before being spun off into a new company backed by venture capitalist Gary Lauder. As is often the case, it seems that the "little guys" suffered the most from this restructuring, as the company's management team is said to still be intact.
Will the new OnLive continue as it has been, offering expensive game streaming services to a small pool of customers, or will it try some novel business strategies in its new form? One would hope that after such a painful restructuring, the company can think of something better to do than repeat its past mistakes.
It's been about a year since casual gaming giant PopCap was acquired by EA, and contrary to promises, it looks like things have changed for the company. PopCap has always produced extremely successful games, but taken a very long time to do so. In a world in which quick and cheap casual games like Angry Birds have taken over the landscape, PopCap has found that it needs to become a bit leaner and meaner to survive. Perhaps the most unfortunate casualty of these layoffs was George Fan, the creator of Plants vs. Zombies, who was laid off the day after the company confirmed it was working on Plants vs. Zombies 2.
PopCap claims that the layoff decisions were solely its own, not EA's, though of course there's always going to be some healthy skepticism about those types of claims where EA is involved. Still, it's true that the casual gaming market has changed drastically in the past couple of years, and people are no longer going to pay the amount that they once did for PopCap's games. It should be interesting to see how the company releases and prices Plants vs. Zombies 2 and its other future offerings.