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Kardashian game maker cut 50 jobs during 'disappointing' holiday season

Celebrity-focused mobile game maker Glu Mobile axed 50 positions in December in a restructuring effort following a 'disappointing' holiday season that saw the company's revenues and profits drop.

Celebrity-focused mobile game maker Glu Mobile axed 50 positions in December, according to GamesIndustry, as part of a company-wide restructuring that company chief Niccolo de Masi described in an investor call this week as an effort to "avoid a repeat of 2015's disappointing H2."

De Masi's description of the latter half of Glu's fiscal year (which ended December 31st) as "disappointing" and "extremely humbling" is notable because the company's stock is currently riding high on the news that Glu is partnering with Taylor Swift to launch a game starring the pop star.

But that's a bit of a rallying effort for Glu, given that its 2015 earnings report shows a decline in both revenue and profits for the last three months of the year. Speaking to investors, de Masi attributed this in large part to a smorgasbord of missteps that led games like James Bond: World of Espionage and Katy Perry: Pop to significantly underperform. 

"One studio posted revenues approximately $50 million below our internal plan," de Masi said during the earnings call. "Two other studios contributed additional eight-figure misses," driving Glu to restructure in such a fashion as to remove 50 jobs across three studios. It's not clear whether the three studios de Masi referred to are the ones affected by the job cuts.

What is clear is that Glu's 2015 strategy was significantly informed by the remarkable success of its 2014 game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which drove it to record profits that year and continues to be the studio's standout earner more than a year later (see chart below). However, the company seems to be having trouble duplicating success of that magnitude, and is reining in its celebrity game-making for 2016.

"Having now reached our targeted scale, we intend to considerably slow the signing of additional celebrity partnerships," de Masi said, noting that in addition to the Katy Perry partnership "we have one known musician male and one female celebrity signed that will be announced near their 2017 game launches."

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