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RealNetworks Layoffs Shutter Seattle Casual Game Development Division

A company-wide series of layoffs at Seattle-based multimedia group RealNetworks has shuttered the company's first-party PC casual game division in Seattle, but development will remain in its Netherlands studio.
A company-wide series of layoffs at Seattle-based multimedia group RealNetworks has effectively shuttered the company's first-party game division, halting internal PC casual game development at the GameHouse studio in Seattle, but retaining the development team in the Netherlands, as social games take higher priority at the company. This week, Real said it would eliminate 85 jobs in an effort to "reduce the spans and layers of management to create greater efficiency, teamwork and customer focus." The move comes just three months after a round of 60 layoffs. A Gamasutra source affected by the most recent reorganization said that, while the layoffs hit all parts of the company, "Real has completely disbanded its first party studio" in Seattle, following "a batch of layoffs once every quarter since last August." According to the source, GameHouse -- which Real acquired in 2004 and which serves as the company's game-related brand -- no longer has internal development capability for traditional PC casual games in Seattle. That disbanded group was responsible for the Super Collapse and Little Shop franchises. A GameHouse representative told Gamasutra that the company is retaining its casual game development team in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. GameHouse will continue to run its game portal, which sells titles developed by third parties, and it will continue to develop Facebook games as well as pursue second-party development contracts, under which GameHouse provides design specs to be executed by external studios. "GameHouse continues to invest in new and existing IP content through the efforts of its first party studio in Eindhoven and through global publishing and distributing relationships with developer partners," the GameHouse rep said. In a statement, Real said it expects to incur $3 million in charges for the staff restructuring and another $7 million in losses on now-excesss office facilities, which will be reflected in this year's financial results.

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