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Foundation 9 shuts down kids game studio - report

Foundation 9 has closed ImaginEngine (Apples to Apples), its studio dedicated to casual and children's games, adding to layoffs announced just last week at another of its internal developers, Backbone Entertainment. Update: Foundation 9 responds.
Foundation 9 has closed ImaginEngine (Apples to Apples), its studio dedicated to casual and children's games, adding to layoffs announced just last week at another of its internal developers, Backbone Entertainment. Around 25 employees have been laid off from Boston-based ImaginEngine, including studio head Randall Sanborn, according to a report from GamesBeat. Prior to its recent layoffs, Foundation 9 employed nearly 450 workers. The multi-studio developer has made efforts to scale back its operations lately, selling off Griptonite Games (Shinobi 3D) to Glu Mobile in August 2011. Then last week, Foundation 9 reduced its headcount at Backbone (Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix), and some have claimed that the studio's closure is imminent. "Due to a lower demand for conventional console development, the studio has made some difficult but necessary adjustments in both its capacity and services, with the goal of matching the changing needs of today's market," Foundation 9 CEO James North-Hearn told Gamasutra last week. Founded in 1994, ImaginEngine has shipped nearly 200 games for PC, console, and mobile. It released both original and licensed titles, focusing on family-friendly games like the Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader series. Along with Backbone, Los Angeles-based Foundation 9 owns three other studios: Double Helix Games (Silent Hill Homecoming), Pipeworks (Devil May Cry: HD Collection), and Sumo Digital (Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed). [Update: Foundation 9 CEO James North-Hearn has confirmed the news, noting that the company is looking to help or re-hire the affected ImaginEngine staff. Here is his statement in full: "The market conditions for console and handheld games are challenging at best right now, but the kids & family genre, where ImaginEngine has a long history, has been particularly hard-hit. Due to this, we have unfortunately decided to close the ImaginEngine studio in Framingham, MA over the next month. We have offered positions to a number of the talented ImaginEngine team members to transfer to Pipeworks, our studio in Eugene, Oregon, with a dedicated focus on the growing live games space. "We are actively providing assistance, including help in finding new opportunities, to those not making the move. I would like to publicly thank these individuals for their service to ImaginEngine and wish them the best, as well as to thank the individuals undertaking the relocation as we emerge from this restructuring period best positioned to deliver quality products across all platforms."]

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