Tomb Raider Dev Sees Layoffs Amidst Increased Focus on Series, Looking at Batman-like Redesign

Those rumored layoffs at Tomb Raider: Underworld developer Crystal Dynamics have been confirmed by studio owner Eidos, with the company telling Joystiq that this was a result of an increased "focus on the Tomb Raider franchise at Crystal Dynamics." nope

Roughly 30 employees were laid off, including Tomb Raider: Underworld creative director Eric Lindstrom. It is not known if Crystal Dynamics was working on any non-Tomb Raider games--the studio is believed to be wrapping up the 360-exclusive TR:U downloadable content, and doing tentative work on the next Tomb Raider.

The layoffs came on the same day that Eidos expressed disappointment that Tomb Raider: Underworld only sold 1.5 million units, which may prompt a redesign.

That new direction could be "female-friendly," reports TimesOnline, adding that Eidos expected Tomb Raider: Underworld to sell 2 million--a milestone it missed by 500K.

"Look at how Batman changed successfully, from the rather sad character of the Michael Keaton era to the noir style of The Dark Knight," said Eidos CFO Robert Brent. "We need to look at everything, as we develop the next [Tomb Raider] game."

In a thread on the fan-run Tomb Raider forums, creative director Lindstorm revealed he was one of those that lost their jobs, with a site administrator confirming his identity, and addressed speculation that game content was cut for the sole purpose of DLC.

He explained:

I can tell you without doubt that the content of DLC was absolutely not held back from Underworld for the purpose of selling later down the road. I am one of only three people who knows this for sure because not only were there only three of us in the room at the time the decision was made, I was the one who made it. We had a production issue that was going to make us miss our ship date -- which we could not do -- and I needed to find a way to cut enough days from the schedule in a manner that would not rip a hole in the game that would take time to sew up. It was my idea to cut what was cut, and I did hope that it would one day be made available as a download mission, because there was great content already conceived and half completed, but on the day we made the cut, it was made purely for Underworld production reasons. Even if I was told on that day that we would never ever make a downloabable level, I still would have had to cut it. Anyone who says otherwise is speculating or heard someone else speculating, and is incorrect.

Lindstorm's statement came shortly after another alleged ex-employees began posting and claimed the team was "asked to cut some parts out to be used in the DLC."

Thanks to Luckyg and manlyman for the forum links and information.