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MMO Publisher Nexon Closes Vancouver Studio

Gamasutra has learned that Alex Garden-headed development studio Nexon Vancouver, also known as Humanature Studios, has been shut down by parent company Nexon (MapleStory), with 90 staff members losing their jobs. [UPDATE: Nexon comments att
Development studio Nexon Vancouver, also known as Humanature Studios, has been shut down by Korean parent company Nexon (MapleStory), which focuses on free-to-play MMOs. The story was first reported by weblog Kotaku, and was independently verified by Gamasutra with development sources close to the company. All 90 employees at the studio are said to have been let go -- the latest in an ongoing string of game industry closures over the last several months. The Vancouver-based group had not released any of its own games, although it was involved in Klei Entertainment's forthcoming PC online title Sugar Rush, which has been Beta testing and is published by Nexon North America. Humanature served as Nexon's Canadian development headquarters, and was headed up by Alex Garden, known for co-founding successful PC game developer Relic Entertainment (Homeworld, Company of Heroes). He had already been a Nexon advisory board member for five years before joining the studio. In an interview with Garden posted on Humanature's website in 2008, Nexon said that the Canadian studio was aiming to become "North America’s leading center for online game development, with a focus on products that speak powerfully to the North American audience." Nexon still retains a North American office in Los Angeles, which is primarily focused on localization and creating Western-focused content for Nexon's existing games. [UPDATE: In a statement to the press, Nexon spoke about the decision to close the Vancouver-based studio, crediting the "rapidly changing economic climate." "This was a difficult decision, particularly given the hard work and dedication of the staff," says the company. "However, it is a necessary decision, given today’s economic landscape and the need to secure Nexon’s core business for the long term." "Nexon remains committed to publishing high quality, free-to-play online games for the North American market and our Los Angeles-based teams will continue to work on our existing titles as well as upcoming titles for 2009."]

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