It looks like NBCUniversal is going back to focusing on movies as the company as announced that it will be shutting down its gaming development studio, which currently holds a team of 50 people. It’s unclear exactly how the shut down will affect the employees at the studio, or even what will happen with games that the company currently has live and available to download.
In a statement shared to Polygon, an NBCUniversal spokesperson stated, “Given the realities of the increasingly competitive nature of the mobile games landscape, Universal Brand Development (UBD) is shifting its investment and approach in Games to opportunities that don’t require mobile self-publishing.” The statement continues with, “This will allow UBD to deepen their licensing and partnership opportunities across all gaming platforms. As a result of this shift, the team has undergone a restructuring to be better positioned for long-term success.”
A great example of the licensing opportunities that NBCUniversal can pull off includes Frontier Development’s hit, Jurassic World Evolution. The simulation game received quite a bit of praise from critics and consumers, and it has sold quite well since it’s release. On the other end, though, NBCUniversal has released a Pokemon Go-like game, Jurassic World Alive, which appears to be up in the air as the company transitions to focusing on its licensing model.
The NBCUniversal spokesperson speaking with Polygon also stated, “Based on our recent organizational re-alignment we’re working with our development partners on alternative publishing paths for some of the games in our mobile portfolio. Specific details for each title will be announced at a later date.”
It's definitely interesting to see NBCUniversal throwing in the towel and focusing on their licensing, but I can’t say that it’s the wrong decision at all, especially given the company’s track record with self-published content and content they have licensed out to others. It’s always a tricky thing, making games tied to movies and other entertainment properties, so it’s definitely one that companies have to play carefully if they want to succeed.