Report: Layoffs at Split/Second dev Black Rock

Split/Second and Pure developer Black Rock has suffered a number of redundancies, reported to be as many as 100.

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An undisclosed number of staff have been made redundant at Split/Second and Pure developer Black Rock Studio, owner Disney Interactive has confirmed. Rumours whispered to Eurogamer say as many as 100 staff may have been let go.

"Disney Interactive Studios confirms a reduction of its workforce from the Brighton-based internal game development studio, Black Rock Studios," an official statement stated. "The studio will continue its work on its current project."

An anonymous source at Black Rock speaking to Eurogamer revealed supposed reasons behind the layoffs, an issue which Disney tactfully side-stepped.

"It seems Disney have been unable to provide us with a project to work on, and our concept pitches clearly haven't gone down well (despite there being many of them)," the anonymous source said.

"After SS wrapped, we started work on [Split/Second 2] pre-prod which was cancelled last December due to DIS's new management and their changing priorities (the push towards freemium etc) - SS2 didn't really fit in with that (despite some efforts to shoehorn it in)."

The source also said that a sequel to Pure had once been in the works, but was cancelled.

"The inactive portion of the studio has been expecting redundancies for months, so this doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's sad that it's come to this of course, but for many people they'll be quite happy to take the money and go, as they've been sitting around doing nothing for months."

While Disney has not confirmed this version of events, the story certainly would make sense.

Disney Interactive had a round of layoffs in January this year. The publisher again declined to give specifics, but the figure was reported to be around 250. It was rumoured that was only the "first round" of layoffs, and it seems another may have begun.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 5, 2011 7:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Layoffs at Split/Second dev Black Rock.

    Split/Second and Pure developer Black Rock has suffered a number of redundancies, reported to be as many as 100.

    • reply
      May 5, 2011 8:17 AM

      [deleted]

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        May 5, 2011 8:20 AM

        oh man you can tell they had a visit from the Bobs

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        May 5, 2011 8:31 AM

        I think that's what they call layoffs in the UK. I learned this from watching UK version of The Office.

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          May 5, 2011 8:35 AM

          Basically. It's much harder to straight out sack someone, they need to be fired for gross misconduct, but you make their POSITION redundant and in turn they have no job. Their position is made redundant, basically, but then you can't rehire for it.

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            May 5, 2011 10:08 AM

            How English of them.

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            May 5, 2011 1:26 PM

            how dumb.

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            May 5, 2011 3:19 PM

            Redundancy has a specific legal meaning. It's when there is no longer a requirement to perform a particular job in a particular place.

            If a position is made redundant, the employer has to engage in consultation to find "suitable alternative employment". They can decide to cancel any redundancies as late as your last day at work - even if you've gone and made plans with your payout money. The statutory minimum is 1 weeks pay for every year of employment, with a minimum of 2yrs service to qualify. Everyone who has at least 1yr service is entitled to redundancy rights, you just need 2yrs for the right to a payout. If you have less than one year service then you have no protection against unfair dismissal (unless it's on protected grounds, i.e. race, age, gender, disability, etc) so they can just sack you for no reason.

            If you're on a fixed term contract that doesn't get renewed due to redundancy then you're still entitled to redundancy pay as long as you've been there 2 years.

            If within 6 months the employer decides to start performing the redundant (or suitably similar) function again in the same place, they have to give the redundant employees first refusal. In that case, returning employees would have to pay back any redundancy money pro rata (i.e. after 5 months, 1/6 of the payout would be due back to the employer).

            The selection process has to be fair, objective and not discriminate on protected grounds. Most firms used to have a last in, first out rule as it was simple and cheap. That's stopped now that age discrimination is unlawful.

            If an employer gets the process wrong when making employees redundant then the employees can bring a claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. That's a special court for claims relating to employment matters where less than £50,000 is at stake. The panel is made up of a legal expert, someone with experience of trade unions and someone with experience of business.

            That's all I can remember about redundancy off the top of my head. The UK actually has some of the worst redundancy legislation in the EU; employees in countries like France and Germany have much more rights and higher statutory payouts.

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      May 5, 2011 8:20 AM

      I like Split/Second and I like Pure but I don't like redundancies so I'm going to say this sucks and I'm coming down on the side of Black Rock in the video games/redundancies debate.

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        May 5, 2011 8:36 AM

        It does suck, both those games were great.

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      May 5, 2011 9:34 AM

      Tragic news, I love Split Second :( bullshit, I hope they form their own company/team.

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      May 5, 2011 9:48 AM

      Cancelling Split/Second 2 because it's not freemium?

      Seriously, middle management at game publishers seem to be losing an IQ point every 15 seconds for a long time now. I really wonder who keeps paying them to run the company into the ground.

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      May 5, 2011 1:13 PM

      That was not a smart move, Disney.

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        May 5, 2011 1:15 PM

        Wait-a-minute... Isn't Spector in charge of Disney Interactive?

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          May 5, 2011 1:23 PM

          No. He runs one of DIS's studios, Junction Point.

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      May 5, 2011 1:43 PM

      It's sad to see a developer create some great games but still come up short. Pure and Split/Second are some of my favorite arcade racing games.

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      May 5, 2011 2:29 PM

      What the fuck man!
      PURE and Split Second are the BEST!

      Better than Motorstorm that's for sure.
      This is the worst news since Bizarre Creations was disbanded.

      Fuck Disney, its run by monkeys.

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      May 5, 2011 3:29 PM

      I saw the story on Eurogamer, and then the correction from the anonymous source: "No, it wasn't 40 redundancies, it was 40 people unaffected.

      So all three companies that developed the mid-May 2010 racing games (Black Rock's Split/Second, Bizarre Creations' Blur, and UFG's ModNation Racers) have been worse off a year later. Activision closed down Bizarre, and then cancelled True Crime: Hong Kong.

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